New ‘no warning’ road cameras to be switched on
Dozens of new mobile detection cameras are set to be switched on across NSW tomorrow and drivers will not be told where they are installed.
From December 1, 45 of the detection cameras will be set up across the state in both fixed and trailer-mounted spots.
The decision comes after a successful six month trial of the world-first safety technology provided by tech company Acusensus.
The cameras were set up at two locations across Sydney, one on the Clunies Ross St overpass on the M4 Motorway and the other on Anzac Parade at Moore Park.
During the trial about 8.5 million vehicles were checked and more than 100,000 drivers were caught using their phones illegally - the equivalent of $34.5 million in fines.
The technology uses high-definition cameras to capture images of the front seats of the vehicle as it drives past.
Artificial intelligence is then used to automatically review the images and detect if a driver is on their phone.
If the automated system flags an offending driver, that image will then be reviewed by a human before a penalty is issued.
The cameras are even capable of catching dangerous drivers at night, in poor weather conditions and at speeds up to 300km/h.
As with other road safety camera programs in NSW, strict controls are in place to ensure images captured by the system are securely stored and managed.
NO WARNING SIGNS FOR DRIVERS
Unlike with speed cameras, there will be no warning signs to alert drivers to the presence of the mobile detection cameras.
Centre for Road Safety executive director Bernard Carlon said drivers need to believe they can be caught at any time.
"Mobile phone use while driving is not a black spot problem it is happening all over the road network all the time," he said.
"To truly deter people from breaking the law and putting people's lives at risk, offenders need to believe they could be caught anywhere on the road network at any time."
NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance hit back at Labor last week after revealing the party was seeking an amendment in the legislation that would result in warnings signs being put up.
Mr Constance told 2GB's Ray Hadley he was "furious" about the suggestion, claiming it would completely undermine the purpose of the cameras.
"I don't want these signs warning people about the mobile phones because the moment someone backs out of their driveway I want them to know they can get busted anywhere, any time," he said.
"Advice back from the experts are saying that there could be 100 lives saved with having these cameras in place, but that drops dramatically if you put the warning signs up.
"You put up the warning signs and people immediately get off the phones and then you have defeated the purpose of the program and that is to save lives."
NRMA spokesman Peter Khoury has also backed the push for warning signs to be put up, saying the public have a right to know where they are located.
"The NRMA fought for these cameras, but they must come with warning signs in the same way every other camera on our roads has," Mr Khoury said.
"These cameras must be about getting people to put down their phones, not taking away licences.
"We want people to change their behaviour behind the wheel - not three weeks later when they get a fine in the mail. Warning signs are a vital part of the enforcement and education mix."
Though no warning signs will be posted before the cameras, Transport for NSW will be installing signs on key routes so drivers are aware the cameras are in use across the state.
THREE-MONTH GRACE PERIOD
For the first three months the cameras are running, drivers will not be issued fines if they are caught by the new technology.
Instead, they'll be sent warning letters during the grace period.
An advertising campaign is also running on TV, radio, social media, billboards and printed materials to advise of the cameras operating in warning mode for the first three months.
When the first three months is over offending drivers will be issued a $344 fine and five demerit points.
This penalty is bumped up to $457 if they are caught in a school zone or ten demerit points if they are caught during a double demerits period.
Double demerits will be in force over the Christmas and New Year period from December 20 to January 1, 2020.