Australia Cracks Down on Mobile Phone Use While Driving with New Detection Cameras

Australia to deploy mobile phone detection cameras, imposing hefty fines on distracted drivers to improve road safety.

Geeta Pillai
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Australia Cracks Down on Mobile Phone Use While Driving with New Detection Cameras

Australia Cracks Down on Mobile Phone Use While Driving with New Detection Cameras

Dangerous drivers caught using their phones on the road in Australia will soon face hefty penalties, as more detection cameras are set to go live across the country. The South Australian government is testing mobile phone detection cameras at key metropolitan corridors in Adelaide to reduce dangerous distraction behind the wheel.

The cameras have been installed at four locations, including South Road in Torrensville, where one in 84 drivers were detected using their mobile phones during a trial last year. Between April 1 and April 28, 2023, a total of 4,955 incidents were detected from 415,805 passing vehicles, equating to an offence rate of 1.19%.

The $15.9 million initiative aims to change this behavior, which increases a driver's crash risk by at least four times. During the testing phase from April 2024, vehicle owners will receive warning letters, and from September 2024, fines of $540 plus a $99 Victims of Crime levy and three demerit points will be issued. All funds raised from the fines will be used for road safety improvements, education programs, and public advertising.

Why this matters: The use of mobile phones while driving poses a significant risk to road safety, contributing to distracted driving and increased crash risk. The implementation of mobile phone detection cameras aims to deter this dangerous behavior and improve overall road safety for all users.

The camera locations were selected based on research by the Centre for Automotive Safety Research, considering crash trends and targeting busy road corridors across metropolitan Adelaide. The cameras work by capturing high-quality images from multiple angles through the driver's windscreen, with artificial intelligence software identifying drivers on their mobile phones. Photographs of drivers are then validated by SA Police, with images of those following the law deleted.

Across Australia, police will be conducting road safety operations and enforcing double demerit points for certain driving offenses over the Anzac Day period. In New South Wales, double demerit points will apply from April 24-28 for speeding, mobile phone use, seatbelt, and motorcycle helmet violations. The ACT will also have double demerit points in place during this time.

While Victoria will not have double demerit points, they will have a statewide road policing operation called Operation Tribune from April 24-28. The Northern Territory will not be implementing double demerit points, but will focus on the 'fatal five' driving behaviors. Queensland has double demerit points year-round for repeat offenses. Tasmania, Western Australia, and South Australia will not have double demerit points, but will have increased police patrols and operations focused on road safety.

Key Takeaways

  • Australia to deploy mobile phone detection cameras to catch distracted drivers.
  • Fines of $540 plus 3 demerit points for mobile phone use while driving.
  • Funds from fines will be used for road safety improvements and education.
  • Police to enforce double demerit points for driving offenses over Anzac Day.
  • South Australia committed to reducing road trauma caused by distracted driving.