24 February 2023

One week on, how many drivers have Canberra's new mobile phone detection cameras busted?

| James Coleman
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Person using mobile phone in a car

A person caught using a mobile phone while driving by a mobile phone detection camera in NSW. Photo: NSW Police, Facebook.

Canberra’s new mobile phone detection cameras have already identified more than 1300 offences in the space of seven days.

Between 14 and 20 February, 1306 drivers were snapped with phones or other devices in their hands while driving, according to data shared by the ACT Government’s Transport Canberra and City Services (TCCS) directorate.

The three cameras were wheeled out to three roadside locations on 14 February at the beginning of a $9 million, five-year deal between the ACT Government and artificial intelligence (AI) developer Acusensus.

The locations included Yamba Drive in Phillip, Canberra Avenue in Jerrabomberra and Horse Park Drive in Forde.

READ ALSO Inquiry urges tougher penalties, fewer second chances to curb dangerous and deadly driving

In the first week, Horse Park Drive had the highest offence rate of 0.79 per cent, with 602 offences detected across 75,809 passing vehicles.

Canberra Avenue was next, with 383 confirmed offences from a pool of 126,734 vehicles making for an offence rate of 0.30 per cent.

Yamba Drive identified 321 offences across 67,902 vehicles (0.47 offence rate).

The peak day for all three cameras was Wednesday, 15 February, when Horse Park Drive nearly cracked a one per cent offence rate (136 offences confirmed across 13,750 vehicles).

These locations were decided with the help of the Centre for Automotive Safety Research at the University of Adelaide, which looked into the data to find locations with a high rate of crashes or links to distraction.

mobile phone detection camera

With their bright yellow trailers, the transportable mobile device detection cameras are hard to miss. Photo: Claire Fenwicke.

Other stakeholders were also consulted on spots where vulnerable road users are at high risk, mobile device use is common, and where enforcement with existing police resources has proved difficult.

A spokesperson for the ACT Government said now the cameras are calibrated, they will be transported to “various sites across the city every few days” to keep motorists on their toes.

“As the cameras move around our city, we will be working to integrate them with existing ACT Government systems,” the spokesperson said.

“We will also be collecting data to help inform future road safety strategies such as placement of cameras and ACT Policing activities.”

To top it off, two fixed cameras will soon be installed on Hindmarsh Drive and Gungahlin Drive.

READ ALSO Keep your pants on, mobile detection cameras aren’t all bad

Over the past five financial years, ACT Policing has issued an average of 911 infringements and 260 cautions for using a mobile device while driving. This carries a penalty of three demerit points and a $498 fine.

For now, the 1306 drivers caught by the cameras are off the hook. Warning notices won’t be issued until the middle of this year in a grace period that extends to October when the fines start coming.

The government hasn’t ruled out more mobile phone detection cameras in a year’s time, if needed.

For now, ACT Road Policing Detective Acting Superintendent Matt Craft has a message: “You don’t need to use it, put it away, have it away from you. That one moment of distraction could lead to fatal consequences.”

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Presumably it’s still acceptable to hold the phone to your ear as the cameras only seem to capture the phone if you’re holding it in your lap.

“Presumably it’s still acceptable to hold the phone to your ear” … and that displays how much thought you put into your comments before posting. Check the law on using mobile phones while posting.

I know the law, and that is the point of my comment – why not have a camera that can record the offence?

Who says it won’t record you talking on the phone, Bob? Try holding your phone to your ear while going through a camera (when fines are actually imposed) and see if it picks you up. I’m sure many RiotACTers will look forward to your report – especially how long they give you to pay the fine.

Megan van der Velde10:18 am 26 Feb 23

The advantage of driving a manual car is you need both of your hands. to hold the wheel and change gears! It is almost impossible to even eat while driving one. Maybe we should bring the manual back in fashion!

Welcome to crotch cam, where your crotch photo ends up on the internet without your concent. A clear violation of personal rights and the privacy princples.
Surely this is very very similar to revenge porn, sharing a photo of someones private moment as revege.

Yes, texting while driving is bad. However dangerous driving on purpose is far worse and the only way to stop that is more cops on the roads.

David Lee (David Lee)8:16 am 27 Feb 23

No violation here. They would have gone through privacy review by lawyers to ensure that. Those photos are black and white, and it did not display anyone’s face, which made them unidentifiable. Read the Information Privacy Act 2014.

Don’t grope your crotch like the person in the photo then

Capital Retro12:11 pm 30 Mar 23

If they are unidentifiable, then how can they be fined?

Anyone who takes this subject lightly should watch this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fev32zxoh00

And we’re on bicycles while these idiots are in charge of 1000kg’s of steel.

Capital Retro10:26 am 30 Mar 23

I’ve seen plenty of cyclists on “their” paths holding a device in both hands while riding. They are the real “idiots”.

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