Back in July 2019 we reported that new mobile phone detecting cameras have been trialled in NSW.

According to Channel 9 News the new cameras will go live this weekend! Both fixed and mobile cameras will be rolled out, with the location of the fixed cameras undisclosed

New Camera Technology

The new camera technology allows it to capture high resolution images of the front cabin of all passing vehicles. It can capture hi-res images of both the driver and the front seat passenger, can operate day and night, at any speed and in any weather conditions. 

Captured images will be processed by an automated artificial intelligence system, which will detect offending drivers. These images will then be reviewed by authorized personnel for further action. Images of non-offending drivers will presumably be excluded by the automated system from further processing.

A pilot using two fixed cameras was conducted earlier this year in Sydney, on the M4 and on Anzac Pde. Another pilot using a portable version of the high resolution camera was conducted between April and June 2019. (Source: Transport NSW Centre for Road Safety)

According to NSW Transport over 100,000 drivers were photographed using their mobile phones illegally during the trial period. Thus the government considers the trial a huge success and the cameras will go live this Saturday at 45 locations around the state.

During the first 3 months of the roll-out drivers caught using their mobile phones illegally will receive a warning letter. Once the initial 3 month grace period is over, offenders will be slammed with $344 fine and 5 demerit points on their license. The Holiday Season’s “double the points, double the fines” will see offending drivers being hit with 10 demerit points and $688 fine!

Initial Concerns about Privacy

When the news of the new cameras broke out there were privacy concerns associated with this new technology. Should the government be allowed to pry on drivers when they are in their vehicles? And what about professional drivers, such as truck drivers, taxi drivers and couriers, whose vehicles are their “workplace”? Does the use of the new camera technology conflict with the NSW Workplace Surveillance Act (2005) which restricts surveillance in the workplace?

Well, in my view, the privacy concerns are secondary to the main objective here: we need to save lives and we need to stop drivers using their mobile phones when driving. These reckless drivers are causing injuries and deaths with their irresponsible behaviour. So removing the distraction can save lives. This is far more important than getting some privacy in your vehicle while you’re driving. Dead road users (motorbike riders, drivers and pedestrians) had their right to live taken away from them, so why is the “privacy” of a reckless driver (or any driver) more important?

Get Reckless Drivers Off Our Roads!

Motorbike riders are more vulnerable than car drivers and suffer far greater consequences from the irresponsible behaviour of reckless drivers. In a previous post I have expressed my view on getting reckless drivers off our roads. Personally, I wholly support the actions taken by the state to address these road safety issues, especially mobile phone usage while driving. New camera technology, greater fines, suspension of licenses or whatever it takes in order to make our roads safer.

We all hope the new cameras will provide deterrence and will stop offending drivers from illegally using their mobile phones while driving.

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Be safe. Enjoy the ride.

Related articles: New Mobile Phone Detecting Cameras: Revenue, Privacy and Safety