New road cameras to detect mobile phone use
NSW will be the first place in the world to introduce speed camera-style technology to detect illegal mobile phone use by motorists.
Earlier this year, the NSW government passed laws to crack down on motorists in attempts to lower the number of fatalities and serious injuries on our roads. Under the Road Transport Legislation Amendment (Road Safety) Act 2018, speed camera style technology will now be used to detect the illegal use of mobile phones while driving.
Under these new laws, drivers caught using their mobile phone while driving will receive a fine of $330 and a loss of 4 demerit points. This fine will increase to $439 when drivers are caught within a school zone.
These mobile detection cameras will come into force from 1 July 2018.
The detection system will involve an automated system for identifying possible infringements with advanced cameras to see into moving vehicles. Tracking vehicles for up to 50 meters at a time, the cameras work initially by eliminating motorist who are not on their phones, reducing the number of potential infringements to be analysed. If a driver has their hands on the wheel and nothing in their lap, they will be excluded.
Once the cameras identify a driver using their mobile device, the footage is then reviewed manually for confirmation.
The revenue raised from the camera detection technology will be paid into the Community Road Safety Fund, which allows community organisations to develop road safety projects in their local areas. Such projects include:
- Driver mentoring assistance for disadvantaged youth;
- Awareness campaign targeting driveway safety;
- Road safety workshops targeting culturally and linguistically diverse communities; and
- Road safety seminar series and newly arrived migrants.
It has been reported that during an initial test on Sydney’s Harbour Bridge, the new system detected 750 drivers in six hours. This is contrasted with NSW Police having issued less than 100 infringements per week using the current methods.
Drivers are being urged to refrain from using their mobile phones illegally while driving to ensure safety and avoid penalties. Fully licensed drivers may only use their phone – as long as it is used hands-free – to play audio, make or answer a call, or for navigation. Drivers cannot hold phones, nestle them in laps or cradle them between shoulder and ear. Learner, P1, and P2 license holders are not permitted to use a mobile phone at all, including when stuck in traffic.