Australia:

Mobile phone detection cameras: safety or revenue raising?


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The world-first mobile phone detection camera technology
targeting illegal mobile phone use was introduced by the New South
Wales Government in December 2019.

The initiative was rolled out with an initial three month
warning period whereby motorists who had been detected on their
mobile phone were sent a warning notice. However as of 1 March 2020, drivers who are caught by the
cameras are issued penalty notices carrying fines and demerit
points.

The new system utilises high definition cameras which capture
images from the front and side angle to detect both talking on the
phone and handling phones illegally. The cameras integrate
artificial intelligence and can operate in all weather conditions
including fog and wet weather. Further, unlike speed cameras there
is no requirement to warn motorist of the cameras presence.

The current penalties available for driving whilst using your
mobile phone are as follows:

  1. $344 fine which increased to $457 in a school zone; and

  2. Five demerit points.

Recent figures from March 2020 have been released highlighting
the effectiveness of the new initiative. The NSW figures show that
in the first month of operation 12,991 fines were issued for mobile
phone offences which totalled over $7.1 million in fines.

Whilst any attempt to improve safety on our roads is encouraged
these statistics show an increase of 1500 percent in the revenue
raised from mobile phone infringements compared to the previous
month. With such a significant increase in revenue, it is
questioned what is the higher priority for this initiative, safety
or revenue raising?

Regardless of any underlying agenda, if you receive a penalty
notice for using your mobile phone, the matter can be determined by
the courts with the possibility of no fine and no demerit points
being enforced.

We encourage you to contact our office to discuss this matter
with our highly experienced traffic and criminal law team.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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