New technology being deployed in North Carolina is hoping to curb distracted driving habits among commercial vehicle drivers.
The North Carolina Highway Patrol recently announced they will be using roadside cameras and artificial intelligence to identify distracted truckers. According to troopers, there have been over 150 fatal crashes involving commercial vehicles in the state since 2022.
Currently installed along Interstate 40 in Hickory, N.C., the automated camera snaps multiple photos of commercial vehicles as they pass. The cameras record photos of the vehicle and license plate, along with a photo looking down into the cab showing what the driver of the truck is doing.
After the pics are collected, artificial intelligence determines if the driver was distracted by holding a cell phone or not wearing a seatbelt. If it is determined that further action is needed, a series of photos is then relayed to troopers parked more than a half mile away. The department says the whole process occurs “in just a matter of seconds.”
Federal and state laws prohibit drivers from holding an electronic device while operating a commercial vehicle – something the agency says they’re looking to strictly enforce in the name of safety.
“They know what the rules are. They know what the regulations say,” First Sergeant Chris Knox on the NC Highway Patrol told WSOC-TV. “And ones that are rolling the dice and not putting their phones down and not looking at the road, they’re really putting themselves and other people in danger by doing that.”
The Highway Patrol says the new enforcement equipment is portable and they intend to move it to other locations around the state.
Currently, the cameras and artificial intelligence are only being used for enforcement with commercial vehicles. According to a report from WSOC-TV’s Dave Faherty, the Highway Patrol said the reason for truckers being singled out is simple.
“They say unlike someone driving a car…state and federal law makes it illegal for commercial truck drivers to even hold a cell phone while driving,” Faherty said in a Facebook post. “The equipment captures still images but does not discern whether or not the driver is actually texting. Without that information….they can’t really use it on someone driving a car because holding a cell phone in a car is not illegal in NC.”
Truckers caught exhibiting distracted driving behaviors, or not wearing their seat belt, could face up to $100 in fines. LL