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Australia adopts new methods to catch drivers using phones

CANBERRA: The Australian government is trying to convince people to shutdown their smartphones while driving by rolling out cameras to indict distracted drivers.

Andrew Constance, New South Wales Roads Minister said on Monday that Australia’s most populated state is the first territory in the world to use such technology to penalize motorists who are distracted by social media, text messages or phone calls.

Road safety researchers are alarmed by the increasing incidence of fatal accidents involving cellphone using drivers s on New South Wales roads. Researchers argue that motorists who use phones while driving, they are four times more likely to have an accident.

“There is no doubt drink-driving as far as I’m concerned is on a par with mobile phone use, and that’s why we want everyone to be aware that you’re going to get busted doing this anytime, anywhere,” Constance told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

The government intends to roll out 45 Mobile Phone Detection Cameras across the state by December, he said.

In fact, there are two cameras in each device. One camera takes a picture of the vehicle’s registration plate and a second high-set lens looks down through the windshield and sees what drivers are doing with their hands.

The devices use artificial intelligence exclude drivers who are not touching their mobile phones. Pictures showing suspected illegal behavior are forwarded for verification by human eyes before an infringement notice is sent to the registered owner of the vehicle along with a fine of 344 Australian dollars. Some cameras will be permanently installed on sides of the roads and others will be put on trailers and moved around the state.

This year, a six-month trial of two fixed cameras inspected 8.5 million cars and identified more than 100,000 drivers using cell phones while driving their vehicles.

The Government intends to expand the program to 135 million checks per year by 2023. There are 5.2 million registered cars in New South Wales.


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