8 February 2021

New AI cameras to catch drivers on phone in the act

| Ian Bushnell
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Mobile phone detection cameras

Drivers using mobile phones are accidents waiting to happen. Photo: Supplied.

ACT drivers using their mobile phones will be caught out by new cameras using artificial intelligence technology that will be introduced in the Territory in the second half of this year.

The ACT Government is setting aside $10 million for the new road safety initiative in Tuesday’s Budget.

The move is part of the government’s commitment to ‘Vision Zero’ – no deaths or serious injuries on our roads. The cameras will require legislation to be passed in the Legislative Assembly.

The new cameras can detect mobile phone device use and capture high-resolution evidence of drivers in the act, but they come with strict privacy requirements.

Images of front-seat passengers must be pixelated, and the cameras must not see into the rest of the car.

All images that do not contain evidence of a mobile device use offence will be rapidly and permanently deleted, and only the minimum amount of data required to detect and enforce offences will be retained.

There will also be defined use and disclosure of images, and they must be securely protected and encrypted.

Minister for Transport and City Services Chris Steel said driver distraction had become a major safety issue on ACT roads, with drivers who look at their mobile phone being three times more likely to be involved in a crash, and those who text and look at emails on their mobile phone 10 times more likely to have an accident.

He said 1,008 infringement notices and 190 cautions were issued for mobile phone offences in the Territory in 2020.

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Mr Steel said that road safety cameras used in conjunction with police enforcement would play a critical role in addressing high-risk behaviours on ACT roads.

“Drivers who look at their mobile phones are significantly more likely to be involved in a crash, endangering themselves, the public and other road users,” Mr Steel said.

Mr Steel said that other states where the cameras had been introduced had experienced a reduction in distraction offences.

He said the move was a significant change in technology and drivers would be given a period of time to adapt to the operation of the mobile cameras.

“The ACT Government will conduct an extensive campaign to educate the community with a three-month no-fine warning period when the cameras are first deployed,” Mr Steel said.

”During this time, warning letters will be sent to infringing drivers without penalty.

“The penalties are significant and reflect the risk that driver distraction poses to the community.”

The fine in the ACT for touching your phone while in control of a motor vehicle is $447 and four demerit points. If the driver is using the mobile for social media or the internet, the fine goes up to $588 with a loss of four demerit points.

”Every accident that results in serious injury or death is a tragedy and costs the community in some way; including through heartache to family and friends, loss in productivity to our city’s economy and increased pressure on our health system,” Mr Steel said.

In NSW, mobile phone detection cameras came into operation in December 2019. They can operate in all weather conditions, including fog and wet weather.

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Graham Byrne11:10 pm 04 Mar 21

I was wondering what all those cameras were about. They are everywhere. But I’d rather see more red light cameras.

They haven’t been installed yet I don’t think Graham given it was only just funded in the Budget released a couple of weeks ago…. I think your probably talking about the general traffic cams/heavy vehicle cameras around the place.

James-T-Kirk2:39 pm 11 Feb 21

Your artuicle says: “The fine in the ACT for touching your phone while in control of a motor vehicle is $447 and four demerit points. If the driver is using the mobile for social media or the internet, the fine goes up to $588 with a loss of four demerit points.”

It is worth noting that the ACT – “ROAD TRANSPORT (ROAD RULES) REGULATION 2017” says this:

REG 300 (1) The driver of a vehicle must not use a mobile device while the vehicle is moving, or is stationary but not parked, unless—

(a) the device is being used to make or receive an audio call and the body of the device— (i) is secured in a mounting affixed to the vehicle while being so used

The fine is for using it while not being securely mounted…. not touching. It is very important to know the difference.

Put the phone into a mount – attach it to the windscreen so it is not an obstruction and get on with your life.

This is great. Everyday there’s mum’s with kids using their phone .

Capital Retro5:01 pm 09 Feb 21

Wow, no steering wheel in a Tesla?

Capital Retro11:04 am 09 Feb 21

Isn’t about time the subject matter of this thread is called a device and not a phone.?

My observations indicate if people do use it as a phone they do so in safe, hands-free mode which has been around since before texting was invented. The rest of the time people are texting or checking up on celebrities and other mindless crap which requires visual and finger input and this is what creates the problems.

Interestingly the experts reckon using hands free for voice can be just as bad as you are concentrating on the conversation rather than the road. Same experts also say some in car conversations with people can cause issues too and nots let forget kids fighting in the back or wanting to have a frustrating conversation about something that makes you stop and think.

I’ve actually personally experienced this where I’ve been on a handsfree call and either mid call or at the end I have to think twice about where I am. I’m not lost, my memory isn’t going on me yet but I’ve been so engrossed in the call that I have lost track of where I am and need to double take to get back to it.

Capital Retro1:34 pm 10 Feb 21

If that were right JC mobile phone use in cars would be banned completely.

I mean, all these “experts” you are channeling and your personal experiences must be right so, to have a different opinion would mean one would be a denialist.

A quick google search will bring up plenty of papers on the subject.

And out of interest handsfree use is banned in a number of states for learners and P platers and counties like the UK are considering full bans.

Think only reason it isn’t banned is it would be next to impossible to police with the integration between cars and phones these days.

liberalsocialist8:03 pm 08 Feb 21

Can we just cut the revenue raising things such as this, and spend the money installing flashing 40km/h zones in Schools so everyone is aware of when school holidays are on, and interstate travellers (who don’t do all-day school zones) don’t get caught unaware?
Or will that not produce the revenue like these camera’s will.
I support the cameras for sure, but are they really serious about safety? Get the cheap flashing lights into canberra for school zones. Never know, it may actually save a child.

Capital Retro10:59 am 09 Feb 21

Hear, hear.

The ACT is one of the few jurisdictions that actively ‘puts away’ the school zone signs during school holidays – so its not hard to know when school holidays are on….

Capital Retro1:57 pm 09 Feb 21

The lights only flash on school days in NSW. Much cheaper and more effective to flick a switch remotely in NSW than send people out in Canberra to physically flip over the sign.

Your truly off the loop CR. My comment was in response to the point made that lights were need to make sure ‘everyone is aware of when school holidays are on’ – rightly or wrongly, that is already clearly happening.

Its amazing how you’ll jump on tiny issues like this like a bat out of hell, but couldn’t possibly see Government intervention as needed on matters of far greater significance….

Capital Retro1:30 pm 10 Feb 21

I was calling out the deficiencies of the ACT government in the way they handle the matter JS9. Tiny it may be but it doesn’t give me confidence in their need to intervene in other matters of far greater significance and I wonder what they could possibly be?

By the way, have you noticed how cool it is today?

I get wholeheartedly about texting while driving say but I’m puzzled why a driver stopped at the lights is presenting a danger while glancing at their mobile as opposed to checking the old UBD directories, as we did in the past, for instance. At worst there is an inconvenience to others until the blare of a horn brings them around…

Attention level is one of the issues. You see it all the time people where say you have one car on their phone stopped in a straight ahead lane next to someone in turn lane. The turn lane goes green person on phone going straight sees movement out corner of their eye and takes off despite having a red.

But you do make a good point about the old days of reading road directories etc whilst stopped. No doubt similar issues were encountered but number of people doing it were less.

Gareth Rowlands8:10 am 09 Feb 21

Because it needs to be a blanket rule, with no areas of Grey. If your using it at lights, you’re almost certainly using it while driving.

“We need to change the current privacy legislation to further our implementation of the 1984esque surveillance society, and be allowed to fine you based on flimsy decisions madde by AI”.

This government will stop at nothing to raise the revenue required to cover their wastage..

It’s a slippery slope! Next they’ll be trying to raise revenue by fining people for parking in the wrong place or for drinking alcohol before driving.

Hows that kool-aid taste?

They are not fining from AI decisions. The decisions of the AI are sent to a human for verification.

Hahaha you and CR are a special breed in the comments section on here.

Read the article and its quite clear the AI does not make the final decision….

You mean it will be like the mobile parking camera fines? The ones where they just send out fines and only have a person review them if somebody appeals?

Ahhh, JS9, The hilarious part is how naive you are, believing this time it will be different, from a government that has just announced the largest Government debt in ACT history and is scrambling to make money.

Parking cameras are a lot less black and white.l and it’s not using AI to determine if you are illegally parked. Same with speed cameras.

How are parking cameras a lot less black and white? They can somehow determine if somebody was parked in a spot, left and came back to the same spot an hour later? We were told those photos would be checked by a person before a fine was issued, but that didn’t happen and invalid fines were issued.

A while back I used my wallet as a pretend phone while stopped at the lights. Finished my pretend call, was followed by a female driver who pulled up beside me while on the move. She is cursing so much she lost control of her vehicle mounted the curb,then rear ended another vehicle. I was using my parithial vision while the whole episode of events where going on around me.

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