The current penalty for using a mobile phone whilst driving a motor vehicle is $344 and five demerit points. But is this enough to deter drivers from using a mobile phone whilst on the road? The NSW Government is not convinced.
With the increase of fatalities on NSW roads over the last year, the NSW Government is on a mission to change the overwhelmingly high number of motorists using their mobile phones on the road.
In early 2019, a six-month trial was conducted in an effort to capture drivers using their phones illegally. During that trial, several high-tech mobile phone detecting cameras were installed in two locations across NSW, hidden from road users and operating on a 24-hour basis.
Unsuprisingly, more than 100,000 drivers were found to be using their mobile phone whilst operating their motor vehicle.
So what is the answer?
Recently, the NSW Government introduced the permanent installation of high-tech mobile phone detecting cameras across NSW. As part of the investment, the government will spend approximately $88 million dollars on the installation of cameras, around 45 locations across the state. These cameras will operate 24 hours a day and will not have any warning signs to alert drivers as they approach.
But how will they operate?
According to the new legislation, cameras will take a photograph if an object is held by the driver of a motor vehicle and if such an object “is presumed to be a mobile phone… either held by, or resting on, any part of the driver’s body”.
The cameras will use their artificial intelligence to snap a photograph of a vehicle, in circumstances where it is presumed the driver is using a mobile phone whilst operating a car.
How accurate will the cameras really be?
The installation of mobile phone detecting cameras appears pivotal in combatting the high statistics of illegal mobile phone use in NSW, however, doubt has risen over the accuracy of the new high tech device.
Concerns have been raised that drivers may cop fines for simply eating food behind the wheel. As Mr Michal Mantaj (Trial Advocate) says, “there will be many drivers who will be doing nothing more than maybe holding a chocolate bar”.
The NSW Government has ensured that all photographs captured by the device will be reviewed by a person, who will ultimately determine whether or not, in fact, that person is holding a mobile phone device.
The cameras are expected to be in full-force by December 2019.