Published: Oct 30, 2019
Cracking down on drivers using mobile phones illegally
The world’s first mobile phone detection camera program will be rolled out in NSW by the end of the year.
Minister for Roads Andrew Constance and Minister for Regional Roads Paul Toole said the cameras will crack down on drivers illegally using their mobile phones.
During the Government’s recent six month pilot, the safety technology provided by tech company Acusensus checked 8.5 million vehicles and found more than 100,000 drivers using their phones illegally.
“Unfortunately some people haven’t received the message and think they can continue to put the safety of themselves, their passengers and the community at risk without consequence,” Mr Constance said.
“There is strong community support for more enforcement to stop illegal mobile phone use with 80 per cent of people we surveyed supporting use of the mobile phone detection cameras.”
The program will operate in warning letter mode for the first three months to reinforce the ‘get your hand off it’ message. If you offend after that, you’ll cop a $344 fine and five demerit points.
“The decision to pick up your phone can have fatal consequences. It doesn’t matter whether you’re driving on a busy city motorway or on an isolated road in the bush – there’s just no excuse for using your phone illegally,” Mr Toole said.
“Independent modelling has shown that these cameras could prevent around 100 fatal and serious injury crashes over five years.”
Managing Director of Acusensus Alexander Jannink lost a friend in an accident caused by a distracted and impaired driver.
“We are committed to supporting the NSW Government's pioneering initiative to reduce the significant loss and trauma caused by illegal phone use on the road network,” Mr Jannink said.
“We know from the success of the pilot and other enforcement technology programs that the deployment of the Acusensus Heads-Up solution will drive behavioural change and improve the safety of road users.”
Road safety advocate Vicki Richardson founded the ‘Don’t-txt-n-drive’ foundation to raise awareness of driver distraction after her daughter Brooke lost her life at age 20 in a crash caused by using her phone while driving.
“Brooke was driving to work and she decided to text a client. That was the last decision she ever made. Working Towards Zero is very important to me,” Ms Richardson said.
NSW Police Traffic and Highway Patrol Commander, Assistant Commissioner Michael Corboy, said more than 16,500 people had been caught using a mobile phone while driving so far this year.
“When you drive while using a phone, your attention is not on the road, on other cars, pedestrians, or on other dangers and it poses a risk to everyone who uses the road,” Mr Corboy said.
“There is simply no excuse for it.”
The mobile phone detection camera program will be supported by a comprehensive road safety campaign including online information and public education.
The program will start later this year and progressively expand to perform 135 million vehicle checks annually by 2023.
The program will include fixed cameras and relocatable trailer-mounted versions of the technology. The transportable cameras will move across a network of locations statewide, targeting illegal mobile phone use anywhere, anytime.
The Privacy Commissioner has been involved in ongoing consultation during the pilot regarding the privacy protection measures incorporated into the program.