A focused week of action by roads policing officers has led to nearly 500 suspected driving offences being identified, with the help of an AI-equipped camera van from enforcement technology company Acusensus.
The Joint Operations Roads Policing Unit of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary and Thames Valley Police were targeting commercial vehiclesas part of a National Police Chiefs Council campaign running 17-21 July.
The forces were also provided data by AECOM, who deployed their Sensor Test Vehicle with Acusensus’ ‘Heads-up’ solution on the A34 and A303.
This AI-equipped camera van can detect drivers using their phones, and was deployed in Hampshire for the first time as part of this national week of action.
The van is equipped with two cameras which capture suspected offences. One of them is set at a shallow angle to identify mobile phone use to the ear, and to see whether the seatbelt is going across the body or hanging down behind the driver.
The second camera has a steep view, providing visibility of mobile phone use low down, to detect behaviour such as texting near the steering wheel or door. This second camera also gives further evidence of seatbelt use by being able to check the presence of the lap portion of the belt, and confirm that the seatbelt is clipped into the buckle.
All images of possible offences are automatically captured then sent to be checked by two separate AECOM teams in the UK, before being provided to the police for their review. This process ensures that only clear offences, which are reviewed by at least two humans, are considered for prosecution.
The ‘Heads-up’ van identified 86 drivers suspected of using a phone and 273 motorists or passengers suspected of not wearing a seatbelt.
Simon Gomer, manager of the Safer Roads Unit said: “These are very exciting times and this has been a great opportunity for both forces to utilise the latest in AI technology.
“But the results we’ve had from just one week sadly show how prolific these offences are. We will continue to spread the message that distracted driving kills, these offences will be punished and social habits need to change.”
Dr Jamie Uff, Technical Director – Strategic Consultancy, Transportation at AECOM, said: “Despite the often-reported dangers of distracted driving and failing to wear seat belts, the numbers of people killed or seriously injured as a result of these behaviours remain high.
“The technology AECOM is deploying makes detection straightforward and is providing valuable insight to the police and policy makers on the current level of road user behaviour. We are really keen for the use of this technology to be expanded to raise awareness and improve road safety for everyone.”
Geoff Collins, UK General Manager for Acusensus, said: “The ‘Heads Up’ system is a perfect example for how AI technology can be used to improve road safety.
“Distracted drivers are a significant hazard for everyone, whilst those not wearing a seatbelt are far more likely to be killed in a collision – the Acusensus technology can help to change behaviours, reducing the casualty toll on our roads”
As part of the week of action, 132 mechanical offences were identified by the Commercial Vehicle Unit. This included 39 insecure loads, 30 defective tyres, 18 non-compliant mirrors and 23 overweight vehicles.
Five arrests were made by the CVU team for offences such as drug driving and disqualified driving.
Police Sergeant Paul Diamond, of the Commercial Vehicle Unit, said: “It is always disappointing to see the level of danger some people bring to themselves and other motorists but with dedicated operations like this we can combat the threat and remove the worst offenders.
“This activity was part of a national drive but our Roads Policing Unit conducts this work daily throughout the year and will continue to do so.”
(Picture – Hampshire Police)