Road signs and mobile phones

road signs and mobile phones

Did you know that there are road signs which can detect mobile phones in use in vehicles? The tech detects when a phone is in use within the vehicle and triggers a flash warning sign.

The system (which can tell the difference between active phone calls and other activities based on the strength of a signal and how long it lasts) has been designed as a deterrent. It flashes up a red warning signal to drivers when it detects a call.

Holding a phone while driving was outlawed in the UK in 2003 – but almost 25% of people admitted to taking a call in a recent RAC report on Motoring. Norfolk County Council’s road safety team have worked with speed and warning sign specialists Westcotec on deploying the next-level signs, which are a first for UK roads.

road signs and mobile phones
There’s daft, and then there’s looking at your mobile while you’re driving daft… (Shutterstock)

Inspector Jonathan Chapman from Norfolk Roads Policing said: “This road signs and mobile phones scheme is a good example of how we can work with local authorities to make using a mobile whilst driving as socially unacceptable as drink or drug-driving.

“Any scheme which prevents this kind of behaviour is welcomed. Using a mobile phone at the wheel is one of the fatal four road offences which can have devastating consequences if it causes a fatal or serious collision.

“We will be using the information provided by Norfolk County Council’s road safety team to help us target drivers in the future but the message is simple – leave your phone alone whilst you’re behind the wheel.”

For anyone with even only a basic level of common sense, the temptation to make or take a call while at the wheel of a vehicle should never arise. It’s clear and obvious how dangerous it is. But, of course, it happens. This road signs system is one way of tackling the problem.



  1. Nigel Freeney

    July 14, 2018 at 08:51

    How useful will the figures actually be? I can’t think of a way in which the signal strength would be different if the phone was being held in the hand or being used hands free. Lots of people have hands free and use it safely within the law. If the sign flashes up for each of these – the sign itself will become a distraction to the driver worried that they will be penalised for doing nothing wrong.

  2. Roy

    July 21, 2018 at 09:23

    How about your pasanger useing a mobile phone will it still flash you ???

  3. Gazzerjay

    July 21, 2018 at 09:36

    There is only one way which this technology can work. There MUST be photographic evidence to show the DRIVER is holding a phone in the hand. Without this corresponding evidence the police and courts would not be able to prosecute anyone as a detected live call being detected could be a passenger within the vehicle, so NRP and Front/Side facing cameras would have to be used in conjunction with the monitoring technology. Even here, I suspect the hardened mobile phone criminals will find a way to get round this technology; maybe by using speaker phone and leaving the phone on their lap, so the technology may detect the phone call but no Bluetooth signal. Nigel Freeney is correct in his comment when he says the sign itself will be the distraction, in the same way that speed check cameras that display your speed makes the driver take their eyes of the road to read the sign and then check their speedometer, usually at a place in the road that they should be watching the road very carefully. If the whole package is not available at the detection site then the authorities will have a hard time proving their case against the driver.

  4. John

    July 21, 2018 at 09:46

    I agree with Nigel Freeney, but it’s going to add to the argument that you shouldn’t use a phone at all when you’re driving – if you can detect it you can ban it.

    It’s not going to discriminate between the driver and a passenger except by taking a photograph, so I’m going to get a left-hand drive car to annoy the system.

    The claim is that in the seconds that the car is in range of the detector, probably in a line of busy traffic, it will be able to spot the difference between legal and illegal use – live traffic updates on the satnav is the first legal use that comes to mind.

    The more I think about it, the less feasible it seems; perhaps this is a rumour being put out by Norfolk County Council to scare us into obeying the law. If so, then although the intentions are good, it’s actually a hoax.

    Also, it’s badly written.

  5. The instagoter

    July 31, 2018 at 16:01

    Total rubbish idea as how will it know who’s using the phone in a car, just another scam to collect data from everyone

  6. ian Griffiths

    January 13, 2020 at 11:31

    how does this work when my wife of the children are using their phones….. Then other road users think its automatically the driver…….

  7. Anish

    January 21, 2020 at 12:39

    More surveillance disguised as road safety.
    How could it detect difference from driver or passenger sitting next to you.

    “Surveillance and revenue”

    Majority of people will just pay the fine instead of arguing it in court, a money generator.

    I would challenge it in court ..I challenged the TV-Licence some fifteen or more years ago and now I am exempt from requiring one. No one ever comes to my door or tries to contact me. (there is no law that enforces you to enter into a ‘contract agreement’ with a private company, BBC. That`s why its called a ‘contract agreement’. Simply say “I do not agree or wish to enter in to a contract agreement”)

    I have also challenged speeding tickets and parking fines and had them squashed.
    (there is no law that says you must pay a fine/penalty to a private car parking facility, again its an agreement that you enter in ..simple say “I do not agree, I reject your request to pay a penalty fine”). On one occasion I called the police to have a wheel-clamp removed, and after explaining the law to the Constable it ended up with the owner being arrested for vandalism to my motor-vehicle. I was awarded £185 in court to replace my scratched alloy and the rest was compensation.

    You got to stand up for yourself and challenge…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Most Popular

To Top