Strange catch with new road cameras
DRIVERS who use their phones on Sydney roads may now be caught out without even realising it as new mobile detection cameras get up and running in parts of the city.
The world-first technology is capable of catching drivers using their phones, even at night time, in poor weather conditions or at speeds up to 300km/h.
After a successful, month-long test period the cameras are now being trailed in two locations across Sydney and, while drivers will be notified if they have been caught, there is a slight catch.
The cameras are located on the Clunies Ross St overpass on the M4 Motorway at Prospect and on Anzac Parade at Moore Park.
They will be operating from the start of next week but even though drivers will receive a letter telling them they have been caught, motorists will not actually start being fined until April.
NSW Roads Minister Melinda Pavey said the grace period will allow time for any possible teething issues to be worked out.
"If at the end of the trial, the technology proves to be foolproof, the community will be made aware of its permanent use," Ms Pavey said.
"Seventy-four per cent of the NSW community support the use of cameras to enforce mobile phone offences. I strongly believe this technology will change driver behaviour and save lives."
Ms Pavey told reporters that it is imperative the technology is working perfectly before fines start being handed out as it's likely there will be a number of lawyers waiting to challenge the new technology.
"This is not about revenue raising," she said.
"This is about sending a very strong message to get off your phone when you're behind the wheel of a car."
During the October testing period more than 11,000 drivers were snapped using their mobile phone behind the wheel.
The technology uses a radar-based sensor system to automatically detect vehicles and record data, including photos taken through car windshields, which is then automatically analysed by artificial intelligence and passed on for review by a person.
One of the pictures captured during the test period shows a driver with both hands on his phone while a passenger holds the wheel for him.
In NSW drivers who are caught even just touching their phone will be handed a $337 fine and five demerit points.
Motorists are able to answer or make a call or use the phone's navigation app if the device is secured in a cradle.
Alex Jannink from Acusensus, the Australian company chosen to trial the cameras, said he was motivated to create the mobile phone detection technology after his friend was killed in a horrific crash a few days before Christmas.
"Since my friend James was killed by an impaired and phone-distracted driver five years ago, I have had a strong desire to develop this technology to save lives," Mr Jannink said.