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Police Trial Drones To Target Poor Driving

Devon and Cornwall have launched a new program to tackle unsafe driving practices on high-risk routes. The initiative is a collaborative effort between the counties’ roads policing team, road casualty reduction officers, and speed detection officers, and is now using drones to help detect driving offences.

The primary objective of the project is to target irresponsible driving and riding practices, with a particular emphasis on motorcyclists, not just drivers.

The move comes after more than 200 riders were killed or seriously injured in the region due to road accidents in 2022.

Drones are the main technology being used in this initiative and are being used to calculate vehicle speed in real-time using fixed points on the highways.

They can also capture live video footage of incidents, which means that any dangerous or inappropriate driving can be recorded as evidence.

Insurance brokers and companies may also be asked to assist as they can help confirm the MOT, tax, and insurance policy status of any private or motor trade vehicles and motorbikes, as well as check whether it has been reported as stolen.

If a vehicle is found breaking the law, the details are immediately sent to officers on the ground, who can then take appropriate action.

Calibrated laser cameras can also be used by speed detection officers to accurately record the speed of the vehicle before police road casualty reduction officers pull over the driver or rider.

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Depending on the severity of the offense, the offender may receive a warning, referral to a specific training course, or even a fine and penalty points.

In more severe cases, they may be prosecuted in court or arrested on the spot.

The program is part of a broader effort to make roads safer for everyone. Devon & Cornwall Police have invested heavily in drone technology to capture footage in different weather, temperature, and lighting conditions.

The drones are also equipped with high-resolution cameras that can capture footage from a distance.

The Vision Zero South West road safety partnership’s motorcycle task group is overseeing the initiative and has made reducing motorcycle collisions a top priority for 2023.

The program also includes engagement events, training opportunities, video projects, and a publicity campaign aimed at promoting safer driving practices among riders and drivers of new and used cars and motorbikes.

Chief inspector Ben Asprey, head of roads policing at Devon & Cornwall Police said: “Sadly last year was a terrible year for serious and fatal collisions involving motorcyclists. In 2022, 16 motorcyclists were killed on Devon and Cornwall’s roads – the highest figure in the past five years.”

“A further 187 were also left seriously injured. Despite motorcyclists making up less than 1% of overall traffic, they account for roughly a third of all serious and fatal collisions in our area. Motorcyclists are already a vulnerable road user group, not least because they have considerably less protection than drivers of cars or other vehicles. Preventing any further unnecessary loss of life is our top priority.”

Devon & Cornwall Police has invested heavily in drone technology, with equipment capable of operating in high and low temperatures and varying weather conditions.

They are also equipped with high resolution cameras with far reaching zoom lenses.

While Vision Zero South West has made this project a priority for 2023, they will use engagement events, video projects, training opportunities and a publicity campaign designed to raise awareness and help change behaviour.