Written warnings will start being sent to motorists caught using their phones while driving by Canberra’s mobile device detection cameras.
A three-month warning period began on Friday (3 November) in an attempt to use education to reinforce the need for behaviour change on our roads.
“Since we’ve been collecting data, over 39,000 Canberrans have been detected using a mobile device, highlighting the significant road safety issue we are currently facing,” Transport Minister Chris Steel said.
“That number translates to cameras detecting over 150 people currently breaking the law daily when they get behind the wheel.”
The government came under fire for delaying the commencement of the warnings and fines period, but the government argued it wanted people to be given as much time as possible to be aware the cameras had been installed.
Three transportable road safety cameras have been popping up on Canberra’s roads since February 2023, and a fixed camera was set up on Hindmarsh Drive (near the Monaro Highway overpass) in June.
A second fixed camera will be installed on Gungahlin Drive (near the Barton Highway overpass) by the end of the year.
The cameras will be able to detect:
- a driver of a vehicle holding a mobile device in their hand at the ear or above the shoulder
- a driver of a vehicle holding a mobile device by resting the device between the ear and the driver’s shoulder
- a driver holding a mobile device in their hand or hands, including where it is held at chest level or below
- a driver touching, but not holding, a mobile device with their hand where the device is not secured in a mounting affixed to the vehicle
- a mobile device that is resting on any part of the body of a driver whether or not the device is also touched or held (except where the device is in a pocket of the driver’s clothing or in a pouch that is worn by the driver)
Throughout the three-month warning period, the third phase of a comprehensive road safety campaign will also get underway.
Mr Steel said the campaign would ensure everyone was aware that it is illegal to use their mobile device while driving, and also give a “substantial warning” that infringements will commence from February 2024 for any driver who chooses to break the law.
“Any time you take your eyes off the road you are risking your own life and the lives of other road users. Any activity that distracts a driver can result in higher speeds, lane deviations and delays in reaction time,” he said.
“We are asking motorists to leave their phones alone. Now is the time to change bad habits, put your phone down and prioritise getting yourself and all road users home safely.”
ACT Policing will still issue fines to drivers they detect illegally using their mobile phones. This warning period only applies to mobile detection cameras.
Officer in Charge of ACT Road Policing, Acting Inspector Mark Richardson, said driver distraction is one of the “leading contributors” to fatal collisions on our roads.
“In the three seconds it takes someone to read a text message or social media post, a vehicle going 60 km/h travels about 50 metres, and can cause irreparable damage to both a driver and other road users,” he said.
“Any action that takes a driver’s attention away from the road has the potential to cause tragic consequences.
“ACT Policing continue to do everything we can to reduce road trauma, and support these cameras as part of a wider road safety enforcement.”
More information can be found on the City Services website.