Regardless of whether you are checking directions, seeing who a text message is from or changing your music playlist, in New South Wales, new high-tech cameras are catching drivers for using their mobile phones.
In an unprecedented move, this innovative technology has been rolled out across 45 locations throughout New South Wales since September 2019 as part of a trial, but will continue to be part of the ‘norm’ very soon.
How does it work?
These new high-tech cameras use artificial intelligence (AI) to detect mobile phone use in the front-row cabin space of all vehicles – focusing specifically on the driver.
These images are discreetly captured – providing clear evidence even in low light or poor weather conditions – and reviewed by authorised personnel who will then determine whether an offence was made, without the driver even realising they have been caught.
The program is part of the New South Wales Road Safety Plan 2021 and will involve fixed and transportable trailer-mounted cameras with long-range artificial intelligence cameras.
What is the penalty?
While the trial is underway throughout New South Wales, a warning letter will be issued to the offending drivers, reminding them of the road rules and the offence they have committed.
After the trial has completed, the penalty for offending drivers in New South Wales is five demerit points and a $344 fine ($457 in a school zone). New South Wales also has a “double-demerit period” over the holidays, where the penalty will then increase to 10 demerit points.
The penalties are tough; with the intention of changing driver behaviour quickly. Learner and P1 drivers are completely prohibited from using a mobile phone – even if it’s the hands free, wireless headsets or a mobile phone’s loudspeaker function. Additionally, if someone is caught for more than one mobile phone offences within one year, double demerit points will also apply.
What are the rules for fully-licensed drivers in New South Wales?
If your phone can be operated with Bluetooth or voice activation, or if it is in a cradle fixed to your vehicle, you can use your phone to:
- Make or answer a call
- Use the audio playing function (music)
If your phone is fixed to your vehicle via a cradle (or has smart technology and a display screen on the dashboard), you can use your phone to:
- Use maps and other navigation devices
While driving, you cannot use your mobile phone to:
- Text or audio text
- Use social media
- Take photos or videos
- Video message
- Hold your phone at all – including in your hands, on your lap, between your shoulder and ear.
If you need to use your phone for any of the above reasons, your car must be parked (not just stopped at lights).
If you’ve been caught using your mobile phone while driving or have any questions about mobile phone use in Queensland, please reach out to qualified traffic lawyers.