NSW drivers are being put on notice: new mobile phone detection cameras are going live this weekend in NSW, with our other states looking to follow New South Wales’ lead in this new technology.
The new mobile phone detection cameras were announced back in 2018 by the NSW Government, with plans to roll the cameras out more widely over the next two years to reduce fatalities on NSW roads by up to 30%.
According to Transport for NSW, the program will introduce both fixed and transportable trailer-mounted cameras that can roam around the city and regional road network, in a bid to target drivers using their mobile phones illegally whilst driving their cars.
Unlike speed cameras though, there’s been no public announcement of where these cameras will be, making it seem much more like a cash grab than an actual deterrent. The nature of the technology, though, means the cameras will require a fairly high vantage, making their placement likely on gantries, tall signs, etc. rather than lower, street-level cameras.
During a trial earlier this year, some 8.5 million vehicles were scanned by the new technology, and more than 100,000 drivers were caught doing the wrong thing. During the trial, no fines were issued, and for the first three months of the rollout now, only warning letters will be sent. After that, though, come fines in the hundreds of dollars along with five demerit points for anyone doing the wrong thing.
These cameras will make the NSW Government some serious money, too. Projections are the cameras will rake up some $35 million dollars in the first year of operation, and with no warning signs about where the cameras are or will be, drivers who do the wrong thing are going to get caught. Colloquial experience around Sydney especially suggests that drivers just aren’t getting the message – or don’t care – with mobile phone use a common, common sight on Sydney’s roads.
Minister for transport and roads in NSW, Andrews Constance, has said that:
“We have to unfortunately use the element of surprise to get people to think ‘well, I could get caught at any time’,” and that “I want behaviour to change and I want it changed immediately. It’s not about revenue — it’s about saving lives.”
To catch out naughty drivers, the new cameras will use artificial intelligence (AI) to help determine if someone in the front of the vehicle and specifically behind the wheel is using their mobile phone and will be able to catch drivers out round the clock, day or night.
The new cameras start operating on 1 December 2019, with fines commencing in March 2020.