NEW cameras capable of detecting motorists illegally using mobile phones in cars are now on NSW roads after a one month trial last year.
The world-first technology – which uses artificial intelligence and can operate in both fixed and mobile locations, 24 hours a day and in all weather conditions – “penetrate” through windshields, capturing drivers sneakily using their mobiles at the wheel.
During a four-week test on Sydney’s M4, more than 11,000 drivers were snapped on their mobile phones at high speed.
In one shocking photo, a driver was caught holding a phone with both hands while the passenger steered the car as it travelled at 80km/h.
Another offender was speeding at 120km/h in a 100km/h zone while looking down at his phone, while a truck driver was busted using an iPad on his lap.
From today, the cameras will be switched on at Anzac Pde in Moore Park and the existing test site on the M4 at the Clunies Ross St overpass at Prospect.
The state government will conduct a three-month pilot to further test the technology and, if successful, drivers will receive warning letters for a month before fines are enforced.
Australian company Acusensus developed the camera technology.
Penalties for drivers illegally using mobile phones are five demerit points and a $337 fine or $448 for those caught in a school zone. During double demerit periods, motorists will lose 10 points.
Rules for mobile phone use in cars include no texting, emailing, video messaging and taking photos.
Drivers can make and answer calls but only if the phone is fixed in a cradle or can be operated without touching any part of the device such as via Bluetooth.
Acusensus managing director Alexander Jannink said the cameras, developed in the NSW Southern Highlands, produced images that were “highly prosecutable” and were double-checked by humans.
At any one time, more than 3 per cent of NSW drivers are distracted by illegally using a mobile phone, significantly increasing their crash risk.
Even at 60km/h cars cover 33m per second.
“The lower the phone is, the longer the amount of time the driver has their eyes off the road,” Mr Jannink said.
A state government survey found that 74 per cent of the community support the use of cameras to enforce mobile phone offences.