The State Government of New South Wales in Australia has chosen a year-old company to roll out the world’s first cell phone detection camera pilot following a competitive tender process, with the Acusensus Heads-Up system due to be trialled at two locations in Sydney from January next year.
Founded in early 2018 to provide solutions to major unaddressed road safety challenges, Acusensus has attracted seed investment and has been sponsored by the University of Melbourne’s Accelerator Program.
The company provides a pioneering distracted driving automated enforcement technology to assist road authorities and police forces in creating behavioral change among drivers. The contract award in NSW follows a successful testing phase of Acusensus’s high-tech cameras, where over 28-day period more than 11,000 drivers were detected using a cell phone illegally.
Distracted riving is a major problem across Australia. In NSW alone, in the last financial year over 40,000 people were fined for using their phones while driving. From official statistics, between 2012 to 2017 there were 175 crashes in the state involving cell phones, resulting in nine deaths and 50 serious injuries. However, the category is under-reported, and the true number caused by cell phone use is likely to be much higher.
The Acusensus safety camera system visually detects any motorist using a cell phone illegally, day or night, at any speed, and can be deployed anywhere on the road network, in both metropolitan and rural areas. The quality of the evidence and the high detection performance ensures that anybody who does text and drive will be caught and can be prosecuted. The Heads-Up enforcement camera system automatically detects any driver illegally using their cell phone, and captures high-quality court-ready evidential imagery of the offense. The solution can detect drivers illegally touching a phone anywhere in the vehicle’s cabin, even if they try to hide the phone and hand beneath the steering wheel.
Heads-Up can operate day and night in all weather conditions and will detect drivers at speeds up to 186mph (300km/h). The high detection performance enhances the deterrent effect to ensure that if people do text and drive, they will be caught, and this deterrent effect will lead to reduced distraction and reduced road trauma. Acusensus says it has several other public safety products in the pipeline that it believes will contribute to further reductions in road deaths and injuries.
Joining the NSW Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, Melinda Pavey, at the announcement of the pilot program, Acusensus’s managing director, Alexander Jannink, said, “We are very pleased to have been selected to partner with the government for this pioneering road safety project. Drivers using a cell phone have a dramatically increased crash risk, and we know from our system tests that right now up to 3% of drivers will be illegally using a phone. Our cutting-edge technology provides the government with an effective tool to enforce illegal phone use and drive behavioral change to reduce the prevalence of distracted driving. This change will lead to fewer crashes and safer roads for all of us.”