An Australian state has introduced special high-tech cameras to catch people using their smartphones while driving, according to the Straits Times.
New South Wales (NWS) Roads Minister Andrew Constance announced on Monday that they would introduce 45 Mobile Phone Detection Cameras by December. Each unit contains two cameras; one which photographs what drivers are doing inside their car, while another captures the vehicle’s registration plate.
The units use artificial intelligence (AI) to exclude drivers who are not touching their phones. Photos that show suspected illegal behaviour are referred for verification by human eyes before an infringement notice is sent to the vehicle’s registered owner along with a A$344 (S$320) fine. Some cameras will be permanently fixed along roadsides and others will be moved around the state. –Straits Times
“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 the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
A six-month trial of two AI cameras checked 8.5 million vehicles – detecting 100,000 drivers holding their phones. Under NSW law, drivers are allowed to use hands-free cradles and Bluetooth, however touching a phone while driving except to give it to a passenger is illegal. The law applies to those sitting at red lights and stuck in traffic jams. According to Constance – NSW authorities will relax the law to allow caught drivers to pay their fines at restaurant drive-throughs.
NSW wants to expand the program to 135 million checks per year by 2023, according to the report.
National Roads and Motorists’ Association spokesman Peter Khoury, a leading advocate for road users, accused the government of using stealth to crack down on illegal phone use. While the association supported tougher action against drivers distracted by phones, it wanted signs warning motorists that phone detection cameras were operating in an area, as happens with speed cameras in the state.
Government modelling found that the phone detection cameras could prevent 100 fatal and serious injuries over five years. –Straits Times
So far this year, over 16,500 drivers have been fined for illegally using their phones.