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Motorway safety trial results ‘disappointing’


National Highways says the results of a study, which used AI technology to detect seatbelt and mobile phone offences as drivers travelled through motorway roadworks, are “disappointing to say the least”. The pilot study monitored offences along a short section of the M6 in Merseyside for a two-week period during December.

At one point, a camera placed in the roadworks south of junction 23 of the M6 at Haydock, was spotting an offence every 90 seconds – compared to the average at all other sites of one every six minutes.

In total, more than 750 offences were detected. National Highways says the pilot project aimed to collect data on offences as part of its work to boost safety.

Jamie Hassall, National Highways manager for the data collection project, said: “We wanted to find out whether driving through a substantial section of roadworks with barriers, a reduced speed limit and other traffic management would see drivers and passengers modifying their behaviour.

“The findings are disappointing to say the least with drivers spotted using a mobile phone almost every five minutes and lots of drivers and passengers simply not bothering to belt up.

“Hopefully, these results will be a wake-up call to motorway users.”

The camera system uses artificial intelligence (AI) to photograph offences which are then verified by at least two pairs of human eyes. National Highways says the cameras have ‘huge potential’ to be taught to look for other traffic or vehicle offences and poor driver behaviour such as unsecure loads, tailgating or eating at the wheel.

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