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The trial of a revolutionary new safety camera that can detect when drivers aren’t wearing their seatbelts is set to roll out nationwide.

The cameras, which can also identify motorists using their mobile phones at the wheel, were first trialled by National Highways back in 2021. Those who were caught received warning letters from the police.

Following this, the trial was extended to the Devon and Cornwall police forces, catching nearly 600 road users not wearing seatbelts within the first two weeks. Now, the trial is proceeding on a national scale, with a further 10 forces getting involved.

Those taking part are Durham, Greater Manchester, Humberside, Staffordshire, West Mercia, Northamptonshire, Wiltshire, Norfolk, Thames Valley and Suffolk. The trial will run until March 2025, with the first having launched a fortnight ago.

The technology is mounted on a vehicle or trailer and is equipped with multiple cameras, giving alternative views of drivers. It works by capturing footage of passing motorists, using AI to identify whether they’re committing an offence. The footage is then sent to the police where further action is considered.

Currently, the consequence for not wearing a seatbelt is a fine of up to £500 and penalty points, while the fine for being caught using a mobile phone while driving is up to £1,000 and six penalty points.

This follows a string of innovative new cameras, including the trial of a speed camera in Spain that can detect drivers slowing down upon approach.

Matt Staton, the head of national road user safety delivery at National Highways, said: “We know that distracted driving and not wearing seatbelts were key factors in a high number of incidents that resulted in people being killed or seriously injured.

“Working with our police partners we want to reduce such dangerous driving and reduce the risks posed to both the drivers and other people.

“We believe that using technology like this will make people seriously consider their driving behaviour.”

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