New AI cameras to catch drivers on phone in the act

Ian Bushnell 8 February 2021 67
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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67 Responses to New AI cameras to catch drivers on phone in the act
Graham Byrne Graham Byrne 11:10 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.

    JS9 JS9 11:56 pm 04 Mar 21

    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.

Jeff Smith Jeff Smith 10:47 am 12 Feb 21

Will be busy here in the


James-T-Kirk James-T-Kirk 2:39 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.

Ashley Grace Smith Ashley Grace Smith 9:59 am 10 Feb 21

Just get a phone holder, can still use it 🤷🏼‍♀️

Astrid Smith Astrid Smith 2:35 am 10 Feb 21

Nat and Lauren. Now in Canberra too.

Joel Anderson Joel Anderson 7:04 pm 09 Feb 21

Reasons to pass legislation.... to make safer roads. All In favor raise your hands *Crickets cherp*

It'll create revenue 🤷‍♂️ *next minute a Mexican wave of hands floods the assembly* 🤣

yamaam yamaam 6:22 pm 09 Feb 21

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

Capital Retro Capital Retro 5:01 pm 09 Feb 21

Wow, no steering wheel in a Tesla?

Ben Garden Ben Garden 3:31 pm 09 Feb 21

You just need our Tesla screen and it won’t be illegal to touch your screen cause it’s how you control the whole car......what will they do when every car is basically a phone display?

Dylan Weaver Dylan Weaver 3:27 pm 09 Feb 21

Alex Macklin it’s finally happened

Peter Kunz Peter Kunz 3:11 pm 09 Feb 21

Zero fatalities is a delusion. Just gives them more of an excuse to monitor people. Don't agree with using mobiles while driving however.

Sydney Dormer Sydney Dormer 2:46 pm 09 Feb 21

Lucas Paton what we where talking about when going down to the coast

Sydney Dormer Sydney Dormer 1:59 pm 09 Feb 21

Lucas Paton for your dad as well

Damien Cummings Damien Cummings 11:58 am 09 Feb 21

I guess they have to fund the red tram somehow?

Capital Retro Capital Retro 11:04 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.

    JC JC 6:50 am 10 Feb 21

    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 Retro Capital Retro 1:34 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.

    JC JC 5:41 pm 12 Feb 21

    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.

Chris Lai Chris Lai 10:49 am 09 Feb 21

Phone is used as GPS too. Is that illegal now?

    Tim Charles Tim Charles 12:11 pm 09 Feb 21

    Chris Lai

    Only if you touch it while driving/in control of the vehicle- including stopped at lights etc..

    Set it up before you start the car, leave it in its mount until the car is turned off and all will be good.

Lauryn Roberts Lauryn Roberts 10:05 am 09 Feb 21

So did NICK KYRGIOS get a fine after posting himself talking to fb while driving his car?!

    Em Emeralds Em Emeralds 1:27 pm 09 Feb 21

    Lauryn Roberts he didn’t actually touch the phone whilst driving

    Lauryn Roberts Lauryn Roberts 9:24 pm 09 Feb 21

    Em Emeralds clearly distracted and making a post to social media...

    Em Emeralds Em Emeralds 10:55 pm 09 Feb 21

    I agree — but I don’t get to make the laws — by the letter of the law he wouldn’t have been fined as he wasn’t touching the phone. If we actually looked at cognitive distractions and driving safety we would need to ban mobile phones (even just looking at the gps, music and kids in cars!)

    Lauryn Roberts Lauryn Roberts 8:44 am 10 Feb 21

    Lauryn Roberts Lauryn Roberts 8:45 am 10 Feb 21

    Em Emeralds I still think it’s dumb to use cameras /social media while driving.

    Not setting a good example tho I guess that boat sailed a while ago now...

Maureen Lipinski Maureen Lipinski 9:04 am 09 Feb 21

I fully support this initiative! Saving lives matters.....

Paul Kitson Paul Kitson 10:57 pm 08 Feb 21

Gotta get revenue from somewhere.

    Jo Miles Jo Miles 1:59 am 09 Feb 21

    Paul Kitson and where better than from decisions that poor lives at risk?

    Don’t want to pay? Don’t use your phone when driving.

    Paul Kitson Paul Kitson 8:56 am 09 Feb 21

    Jo Miles agreed. But it’s also easy money, like speed cameras. Meanwhile making the roads safe by keeping drivers out of the overtaking lane for example is ignored.

    Em Emeralds Em Emeralds 1:23 pm 09 Feb 21

    Paul Kitson it’s only easy money because stupid or arrogant people have the egocentricity to use their mobiles whilst driving!

liberalsocialist liberalsocialist 8:03 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 Retro Capital Retro 10:59 am 09 Feb 21

    Hear, hear.

    JS9 JS9 12:14 pm 09 Feb 21

    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 Retro Capital Retro 1:57 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.

    JS9 JS9 12:19 pm 10 Feb 21

    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 Retro Capital Retro 1:30 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?

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