14 March 2024

More than 2500 fines handed out in first few weeks from mobile phone detection cameras

| Claire Fenwicke
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woman looking at computer screen

Adjudicators manually check each instance of illegal mobile phone use while driving detected by the cameras. Photo: Claire Fenwicke.

Potentially $1.3 million (at least) has been made in the first few weeks of fines being issued from the photos taken by the ACT’s mobile phone detection cameras.

Between 20 February (when the fines period began) and 6 March, 1.16 million vehicles were checked by both fixed and transportable cameras.

This has resulted in 2576 infringements being issued, which are worth $514 (and three demerit points) if you’re caught holding your phone for a call, or $632 (and four demerit points) for using the phone to send a text message, access the internet or check social media.

Of these infringements, 192 vehicles have received more than one notice.

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The technology behind the cameras detects mobile phones or phone-shaped objects to determine whether an offence is potentially being committed.

The cameras take three clear photos of the vehicle, both up close and far away, and then send it off as an ‘evidence package’ for human confirmation by people known as adjudicators.

They then confirm the details of the vehicle and that the phone is, in fact, being used illegally.

It’s important to note the infringement notice is sent to the registered owner of the vehicle, who may not be the person driving the vehicle at the time of the detected offence.

If the adjudicators determine a driver had not been holding or touching a phone, the evidence package is rejected and deleted.

The technology is currently not programmed to detect other instances of distracted driving, such as having a pet in your lap, putting on makeup, or eating cereal while driving (which has been seen in other jurisdictions).

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The ACT Government has insisted this is a road safety initiative rather than a cash grab, and data indicates drivers appear to be changing their behaviour.

“The community is reminded that it has been an offence to use a mobile device while driving in the ACT for over 20 years,” a spokesperson said.

“While the monthly detection rate for the transportable and fixed cameras is gradually decreasing over time, there are still too many people using their mobile device while driving, putting all other road users at risk.”

During the warning period, about 225 drivers were caught on their phones each day. That’s now down to an average of 161 drivers detected on phones each day.

The fixed camera on Gungahlin Drive continues to be the busiest site, both for vehicles passing through the camera and people getting caught.

It has recorded 1230 infringements, with 88 vehicles receiving multiple notices.

People can dispute the infringement notice, apply for a waiver, or have it withdrawn; however, most have been electing to pay the fine once they see the pictures.

Registered owners can also apply to have the fine altered if they weren’t the person who was driving the vehicle.

There are options available if you can’t pay the fine immediately.

“The ACT Government understands that some Canberra households are facing cost-of-living pressures,” the spokesperson said.

“Payment plans will be available for vulnerable members of the community who may struggle to pay the infringement in full.”

More information about mobile phone detection cameras can be found through ACT City Services.

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Ross of Canberra8:56 pm 30 Mar 24

Its’ the soft end of a fascist state.

@Ross of Canberra
LMAO … really – a fascist state?

You realise, Ross, that you have the freedom to not pay the fine, by simply not touching your mobile device while driving? I know it’s a difficult concept to grasp, but try it and I promise you, you want get fined.

If anything, it’s an opportunistic state … preying on the idiots out there who don’t get it, especially those 192 muppets who got fined more than once in the period.

So you can only touch your phone if you put your car in ‘Park’ – what if your car has MANual transmission?

Capital Retro12:42 pm 31 Mar 24

You have to be a critical thinker to drive a manual.

If it’s not revenue raising, remove the offenders from our roads altogether and actually make it safer for everyone else. If it’s about revenue raising, fine them and let them keep driving so they can be fined again, and again…

Lefty Boomer10:57 am 16 Mar 24

The addiction people have to their phones is astonishing and this will impact them, hopefully and make roads safer. That said, just bought a new vehicle (first time in 10 years) with a big screen with Car Play and lots of other stuff…I’m concerned that it’s affecting my driving in that it’s tempting to play around/adjust things on the go. Big effort to avoid doing it and have learnt to use steering wheel buttons to do the job instead.

Ban those massive screens in newer cars too – how are they any less distracting?

Ross of Canberra8:54 pm 30 Mar 24


obviously, this revenue needs to be used for improving public transport and cycling infrastructure, and not just because of the increased demand that will result from phone-obsessed people losing their drivers licences.

Heywood Jablowme2:30 pm 15 Mar 24

There is plenty of PT and cycling infrastructure already. Revenue needs to be used to actually fix our roads properly, not pay contractors to simply fill holes with hot bitumen which falls apart in a year or two.

“This has resulted in 2576 infringements being issued, which are worth $514 (and three demerit points)”

Good, they should double the demerit points. Do it twice and you’re off the road.

Agree 100% … these idiots, who are not concentrating fully on their driving, should not be allowed on the road.

No concerns for privacy as they share these images online.
9.15 backpack someone is late for uni.

Are we going to see the same as NSW where people are getting fines for holding a drink bottle or where they dont own a device.

Was it also tested to ensure it didn’t pick up a particular skin colour more than others?

Heywood Jablowme2:31 pm 15 Mar 24

Are you suggesting you know who the person in question is in the photo above? Really….

Did you even read the article, or did you just jump straight to the comments for outrage? 3 photos are reviewed by a person. If it is determined that they are not using a mobile device, no fine is issued. Also, what % of the driving population wouldn’t own a phone these days?

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