Speed Camera

AI-equipped speeding camera test catches 500 driving offences

Image credit: Thomas Dutour Shutterstock

A local police force has used an AI-equipped camera van to catch nearly 500 people suspected of driving offences.

Hampshire and Thames Valley Police forces deployed the Sensor Test Vehicle, which is made by Aecom, on the A34 and A303 earlier this month.

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 checking the presence of the lap portion of the belt and confirming that the seatbelt is clipped into the buckle.

All images of possible offences are automatically captured and sent to be checked by two separate AECOM teams in the UK, before being provided to the police for their review.

The process has been designed to ensure that only clear offences, which are reviewed by at least two humans, are considered for prosecution.

Last week, the ‘Heads-up’ van identified 86 drivers suspected of using a phone and 273 motorists or passengers suspected of not wearing a seatbelt.

Heads Up Van parked by the side of a road.

Image credit: Hampshire Police

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 at Aecom, said: “The technology Aecom is deploying makes detection straightforward and is providing valuable insight to the police and policymakers 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.”

As part of the week of action, 132 mechanical offences were identified by the Commercial Vehicle Unit (CVU). 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 CVU, 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.”

In 2020, a report investigating the police use of AI and data-driven technologies called for urgent national guidance amid concerns that its uptake could lead to discrimination.

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