Australian motorists are now being watched by a number of cameras which are able to detect whether they are using a mobile phone while they drive.
In what is being described as a world-first, the New South Wales Government rolled out a number of fixed and mobile trailer-mounted cameras at the weekend which are able to detect when a motorist is using a mobile phone.
The system is reportedly able to work day or night and in all weather conditions. In a trial of the technology conducted earlier this year, the NSW Centre for Road Safety said that the cameras caught 100 000 drivers using a mobile phone while driving.
The cameras make use of artificial intelligence to review images and detect offending drivers. Images that are flagged by the system are reviewed by trained personnel to insure that the image does contain a driver using a mobile phone.
The government has said that for three months from the date of commencement, drivers caught by a mobile phone detection camera will receive a warning letter. Thereafter, drivers will earn a $344 fine ($457 in a school zone) as well as five demerit points and 10 demerit points during double demerit periods.
“Independent modelling has shown these cameras could prevent around 100 fatal and serious injury crashes over five years,” said director of transport at the NSW Centre for Road Safety, Bernard Carlon.
“There is strong community support for more enforcement, with 80 per cent of people surveyed supporting use of detection cameras to stop illegal mobile phone use,” Carlon added.
The government has said that every effort has been made to insure that the privacy of motorists is protected. This includes deleting photos of non-offending drivers within an hour and retaining only the data needed to detect and enforce offences.
The NSW government hopes to expand the programme to perform some 135 million vehicle checks by 2023.