About the project

Mobile device use by drivers is one of the biggest challenges facing road safety at the present time. Although the use of handheld devices has been illegal since 2003, the pace of technological development, as well its widespread availability, is fast outstripping both the ability of the law to keep pace with the actual nature of the problem, and the ability of the road safety community to offer an effective response.

There is a wealth of exciting and innovative activity in this area amongst practitioners across the road safety community, but it is generally the work of enthusiastic individuals often working in isolation and often without funding.  Expertise is therefore contained in silos and institutional memory is hard to sustain leading to the cessation of good work when its champion is moved on to other projects or leaves the field.  Limited police and partnership resources mean that now, more than ever, the road safety community needs to be looking to share a knowledge-base of research-informed practice.

In order to achieve this, the project will therefore:

  1. Identify and map the range of innovations being implemented across police forces, local authorities, and road safety partnerships throughout the UK;
  2. Contact innovators in the area and offer academic input into their activities, including advice on using research to generate research-informed practice, and on methods for evaluating their activities;
  3. Produce a compendium of innovations to be used as a resource for interested road safety and roads policing professionals, which can also act as basis for future research and evaluation activities;
  4. Host a conference where best-practice and innovation can be shared, leading to a network of those professionals, academics, and companies active in this area;
  5. Disseminate the findings of the project in a range of formats accessible to public, practitioners and academics, with an emphasis on the benefits of combining research-informed practice with the experiential expertise of practitioners.


The project will aim to lay a foundation for future evaluations, as well as building capacity in, and networks between, those at the forefront of innovation in this area.  

The proposal allows for, and will seek to ensure, the inclusion of innovations drawn from across the spectrum of the ‘Three E’s’, for example the use of educational diversion schemes, general and specific deterrence campaigns (including the use of social media), developments in automated enforcement or ‘target hardening’ of the technology, opportunities for redirecting fine revenue into preventative activity, and intensive enforcement operations  - all of which are currently operating or being discussed in regions across the UK.   


By sharing best practice and innovation is it anticipated that:

  1. The number of projects and interventions in operation nationally will increase with areas that are not currently operating in a particularly pro-active way being encouraged to innovate without ‘reinventing the wheel’;
  2. Innovators in the field will take the opportunity to benefit from academic input into their projects through knowledge exchange processes, building capacity for the utilisation and adoption of research-informed practice in this area;
  3. The replication of projects as a result of sharing ideas and approaches will create testing ground opportunities for meaningful evaluations, including assessments of replicability;
  4. A legacy of networked innovators in this area will be created and lead to a vibrant culture of innovation and evaluation, with positive outcomes for both this present challenge and those that lie beyond the horizon.