Mobile Phone Detection Cameras Targeting Illegal Phone Use

Mobile phones are everywhere and have crept into every facet of our lives.

Mobile phone use whilst driving presents as a major and dangerous distraction. It is illegal for a driver to make or receive a phone call whilst driving unless they are using Bluetooth or similar connectivity technology. Learners and provisional licence holders are not permitted any type of mobile phone use.

Recently released figures indicated between 2012 and 2017, there had been 184 motor vehicle accidents which involved illegal phone use. Alarmingly those accidents resulted in 7 deaths and 105 injuries.

These statistics were quoted by Melinda Pavey, the Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, as she highlighted increasing community concern surrounding mobile phone use by drivers. Concern has resulted in legislative changes effective from 1 July 2018. The introduction of the Road Transport Legislation Amendment (Road Safety) Act 2018 No 15 provides the power for speed camera style technology to detect illegal mobile phone use.

The changes allow evidence of mobile phone use from devices approved for detection of mobile phone use, in addition to the existing network of traffic offence cameras, such as bus zone cameras, toll offence cameras, speed cameras, red light cameras, and all be admitted into evidence.

NSW is the first jurisdiction in Australia to introduce this legislation. Once the camera detects that a person has been found to be using a phone whilst driving, the footage will be reviewed manually prior to an infringement notice being issued.

For drivers caught using a mobile phone whilst driving, they will receive a $330 fine and lose 4 demerit points. If in a school zone, the fine increases to $439.

It has been reported that an initial test o Sydney’s Harbour Bridge, the new system detected 750 drivers in six hours. Notwithstanding this report however, the NSW Police have issued less than 100 infringements per week since the laws have been introduced.

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 things such as driver mentoring programs, an awareness campaign targeting driveway safety and road safety seminars targeting culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

The changes will be significant step towards decreasing accidents and fatalities on our road.