Featured Article No.6

From The Oxford Times ��?” Friday April 22, 2005

New roadside safety device will give ���ticking off��� to distracted drivers.

Drivers who flout laws on mobile phones will receive a public ���ticking off��� from new roadside safety devices in South Oxfordshire.

The County Council���s road safety team has joined forces with South Oxfordshire District Council to create a new radio controlled, portable variable message sign, to educate drivers about the dangers of speeding, using hand held mobile phones and not wearing seat belts. The battery powered machine, the first of its kind in the UK, will be operated by someone using a remote control handset.

If he or she spots a driver not wearing a seatbelt, the waist height sign will be activated and the message ���seat belt��� will pop up in its display, giving a sharp reminder to the motorist in question.

Eight other messages including ���mobile phone���, and ���slow down!��� will also be programmed into the machine.

���It will be like a little tap on the wrist saying ���naughty���, but in a nice way.��� Said Steve Wood, County Safer Roads Officer.

���Driver education is a very important part of our road safety work and this has been proved by the success of our speed indicator displays,��� he added, ���Although there has been a fall in the number of people being killed and injured on South Oxfordshire���s roads, the number of complaints about speeding vehicles and people driving irresponsibly continues to rise.���

���Speeding remains peoples biggest fear��� said Mr Wood. ��� We are still losing three people a week on the Thames Valley���s roads.��� Mr Wood drew up the specification for the new machine and South Oxfordshire District Council���s Community Safety Group agreed to fund it.

He added:��� It has taken 12 months for us to find a suitable company to make us the machine and whilst it will only be used on South Oxfordshire���s roads to start with, we hope other districts will soon come on board.��� While the machine will only serve as a warning to drivers behaving in a distracted manner, the council may eventually liaise with the police to stop offenders.

The machine was launched at the Traffex 2005 show at the National Exhibition centre, Birmingham, this week and is expected to be in operation in the next few weeks.

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