In July of 2008, the European Union launched ASSETT (Advanced Safety and Driver Support for Essential Road Transport), a program aimed at reducing accidents caused by traffic rule violations. It involves a consortium of 19 partner organizations in 12 countries, but it boils down to one thing thing for European drivers – the police will be handing out more tickets. In order to cover a larger number of vehicles, while making things easier for officers and more fair for motorists, VTT Technical Research Center of Finland is currently testing a mobile system that monitors traffic and notes when infractions occur.

The current version of VTT’s system is contained within a small trailer, which can be towed and set up at any roadside location. Using automated surveillance cameras and a wireless network connection, it detects when drivers are doing things such as not wearing their seatbelts, speeding, and following other vehicles too close. It can also monitor road surface conditions, and calculate traffic emissions.

Information on offending vehicles is recorded and transmitted to a central database, but all other traffic footage is automatically deleted after one month.

The system is presently being tested in the Finnish city of Tampere. Once the testing phase is over, the technology could be implemented directly into police vehicles. VTT estimates that the system could be ready for commercialization by 2013.