In Australia, Transport for New South Wales (TfNSW) has revealed that thousands of motorists have been caught illegally using their phone while driving during the first week of the NSW Government’s mobile phone detection camera program.
During the first week of operations, from December 1-7, a total of 3,303 drivers were caught breaking the law by fixed and mobile trailer-mounted cameras at various locations across the state. Overall, the camera units carried out 773,532 vehicle checks on Sydney’s motorway network. The NSW Government’s new safety program comes after a six-month trial of the Heads-Up camera system developed by Australian technology company Acusensus. The camera pilot between January and June identified over 100,000 drivers illegally using a mobile phone while driving from the 8,500,000 vehicles checked.
For the first three months of the new enforcement program, until the start of March 2020, drivers caught by a mobile phone detection camera will receive a warning letter. When the warning phase ends, the penalty for offending drivers is five demerit points and a A$344 fine (US$233), rising to A$457 (US$310) in a school zone, with 10 points added during double demerit periods. The mobile phone detection camera program will progressively expand to perform an estimated 135 million vehicle checks on NSW roads each year by 2023.
“These drivers captured by the cameras should count themselves lucky to be only receiving a warning letter. At 60km/h (37mph) if you look at your phone while driving for just two seconds, you travel 33 metres (108 feet) blind; it’s dangerous, it’s stupid and it needs to stop,” said NSW’s Minister for Roads, Andrew Constance. “Around 500 drivers a day are getting pinged by these cameras doing the wrong thing. With double demerits starting Friday, we need drivers to get the message and get off the phone, otherwise they risk killing themselves or someone innocent on our roads. I’d like to thank drivers doing the right thing, we have seen a reduction in the noncompliance rate by two thirds since we first trialled the technology earlier this year.”
The executive director of transport at NSW’s Centre for Road Safety, Bernard Carlon, said, “Independent modelling shows the latest addition to the Government’s road safety program could prevent around 100 fatal and serious injury crashes over five years. We need to see a steep behavioural change from motorists to save lives. While drivers caught on camera get a warning now, NSW Police will continue to issue fines for illegal mobile phone use as part of their regular operations.”