Thursday, June 13, 2024

Millions of Aussie drivers warned as mobile cameras target new road rules

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Drivers in multiple jurisdictions are being warned about the increased threat of roadside cameras initially used to detect mobile phone use as authorities expand the number of infringements being targeted with the help of the technology.

Drivers in the ACT will have to make sure their paperwork is up to date as cameras recently rolled out to nab drivers for using their phone behind the wheel will also be used to check motorists have proper insurance and registration.

The ACT began fining drivers in February after rolling out the mobile detection cameras. But from August, the devices, along with the rest of the territory’s road safety camera network including speed cameras and red light cameras, will be used to send hefty fines to people who are driving without proper registration or insurance.

Those caught doing the wrong thing by the cameras will have their paperwork manually checked by transport staff. An infringement for driving an unregistered vehicle in the ACT is $700 while the fine for driving an uninsured car is $973.

The ACT government has also flagged that the mobile detection cameras could soon be programmed to detect speeding.

A car driving past a mobile detection camera in Canberra.

Drivers are being warned they’ll be caught if on the road without proper registration or insurance. Source: AAP

ACT Transport Minister Chris Steel said in December increased capabilities would be rolled out “over the coming years”, highlighting the desire by state and territory authorities around the country to increase the utility of the technology.

As a result, the government expects fines to jump quite significantly, bringing in $65.9 million in the 2024-25 financial year.

Across the border, NSW is also expanding the capabilities of its roadside mobile-detection cameras. From the beginning of next month authorities will activate seatbelt-spotting detection, meaning the cameras will also be able to catch drivers who aren’t wearing their seatbelt properly.

The move, from July 1, sees the state join Queensland which last year reportedly became the first jurisdiction in the world to roll out the dual capability software.

And drivers are being warned there will be no grace period when it comes to issuing the seatbelt fines.

A Queensland driver caught holding their mobile phone behind the wheel while the passenger steers. A Queensland driver caught holding their mobile phone behind the wheel while the passenger steers.

States and territories have been eager to expand the capabilities of roadside mobile detection cameras. Source: AAP

“The expansion of mobile phone detection cameras to also apply to seatbelt offences reinforces the NSW Government’s commitment to enforcing the 50-year-old seatbelt law, actively contributing to improving road safety and reducing fatalities on NSW roads,” the NSW government says on its website.

The department recently told Yahoo that all images captured by cameras are reviewed automatically by software. Those that don’t contain evidence of an offence are permanently and irretrievable deleted, typically within an hour.

Meanwhile in Victoria, the state rolled out dual mobile phone and seatbelt detection cameras last year after a two year trial. A staggering 52,000 drivers and passengers have been caught out in the past 10 months, it was revealed in May.

In South Australia, authorities began testing overhead mobile detection cameras at four busy locations around Adelaide in April. Fines are not currently being issued, but that grace period is due to finish next week on June 19.

As a result, the state expects an uptick in fines for drivers caught handling their phone, costing them $540 and three demerit points.

The NRMA has endorsed the ratcheting up of roadside camera capabilities across the nation.

“The laws were brought in and this technology was brought in as a preventative measure … to stop people getting behind the wheel and taking risks that jeopardise the safety of others,” the organisation’s head of media recently told Yahoo News.

“The road toll is terrible nationally in Australia … So we need to do everything we can to reduce risks on our roads.”

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