Authorities on the east coast of Australia have taken the fight against mobile phone using drivers to the next level, with the introduction of ‘world-first’ detection cameras.
The cameras, which came into effect in New South Wales on 1 December, use artificial intelligence to review images and detect illegal use of the devices.
The Guardian reports that images identified by the automated system as likely to contain a driver illegally using a mobile phone are then verified by authorised personnel.
New South Wales Police hopes the system, which is able to operate day and night, will ‘change the culture’ among drivers.
Until the end of February, offending drivers will be issued with a warning letter. After that, the penalty will be a A$344 (approx £180) fine – which increases to A$457 (approx £240) if the offence is committed in a school zone. In both cases, drivers will also receive penalty points.
The Australian Government hopes evidence from the cameras will help to prosecute around 73,000 offenders annually.
Is the UK utilising mobile phone detection technology?
Police forces in England are already using new technology to detect mobile phone offences.
The technology, which can detect when people in a car are using their phones without using a hands free device, has been developed by Westcotec.
It was first trialled by Norfolk County Council in 2018 – before being introduced by Thames Valley and Hampshire’s Joint Operations Roads Policing Unit.
The Westcotec system identifies what type of signal is being transmitted by the handset and whether it is being used via the vehicle’s Bluetooth system.
When the relevant signal is detected – indicating that a mobile phone is being used within the vehicle – the road sign is activated as the vehicle passes, giving a flashing visual message.
However, the technology cannot distinguish if it is a passenger or the driver who is using a phone and so the sign is activated regardless of who is using the mobile.