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Take a look around the new road camera van that caught 56 drivers on day one

Hull Live 3/28/2023 Harry Ingham

It is not exactly hard to spot, but this new traffic enforcement van is already catching bad drivers.

On its first day of service, its hi-tech cameras, attached to the top of a tall pole, detected 56 motorists suspected of using their mobile phones at the wheel or failing to wear a seatbelt. Operated by Safer Roads Humber and National Highways, it uses AI technology to flag potential lawbreakers.

Hull Live was given a tour of the new vehicle on its second day of service.

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Parked up outside the police station on Clough Road, the van certainly looks unusual. Protruding from the roof is a long metal pole, which supports a camera gantry. These cameras look down into vehicles to detect potential offenders.

Inside, the van looks unremarkable, with little to suggest it is operating the latest in computer technology. Artificial intelligence is used to flag offences such as driving while using a phone, before the images are reviewed by people.

The vehicle is currently in operation on Clough Road © Duncan Young The vehicle is currently in operation on Clough Road

It is hoped that the new vehicle will lead to fewer fatalities on our roads. The key focus is the so-called "Fatal Four" – speeding, using a mobile phone, drink and drug driving, and not wearing a seatbelt – which are the main cause of fatal collisions.

This week, the van is being trialled at various locations around the region. On Monday, the van was sent to the A63. It detected 22 drivers thought to be using their mobile phone at the wheel, and 34 people who were suspected of not wearing a seatbelt.

Ian Robertson, the manager at Safer Roads Humber Partnership, said: "This is a National Highways vehicle. It's on trial with us this week, from Monday to Friday, and we're putting it in five different areas. Yesterday, we had it on the A63 near South Cave, and it's detecting drivers who are unlawfully using their mobile phones, or unlawfully not wearing a seatbelt.

"It does that through the use of the cameras on top of the large pole, the cameras look into the vehicle and using artificial intelligence [they] flag up the drivers who are potentially breaking the law. That's then assessed by human beings and if an offence is identified, we look at processing those offences and the driver will either be offered education or possibly prosecution if that is more suitable.

"It's been very effective: yesterday on the A63 there were 22 vehicles detected where the driver was on their mobile phone and 34 vehicles detected where there was a potential seatbelt offence, and that was only in a four-hour period. That's unacceptable and actually most people support the fact that we'll do this work because when you see a driver on their mobile phone, everyone knows that is a risk."

Ian added: "The vehicle will be moving into the East Riding area next, and then into North East Lincolnshire and North Lincolnshire areas."

The inside of the van is fairly basic, as most of the technology is contained within the camera itself © Duncan Young The inside of the van is fairly basic, as most of the technology is contained within the camera itself

Jamie Hassall, the road safety team leader at National Highways, said: “This technology has already been deployed on roads elsewhere in the country, where it has helped to shine a light on the minority of dangerous drivers who continue to put themselves and others at risk. We want to see if we can change driver behaviour and therefore improve road safety for everyone.”

Safer Roads Humber is a partnership made up of East Riding Council, Hull City Council, Humberside Fire and Rescue Service, Humberside Police, National Highways, North East Lincolnshire Council and North Lincolnshire Council. Its stated aim is to reduce the number of people killed or injured on the roads and maintain casualty reduction.

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