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Cameras That Catch You Using Your Phone While Driving Are Coming to Queensland Roads

The cameras are being tested on metropolitan and regional roads for six months.
By Samantha Teague, Libby Curran and Sarah Ward
July 27, 2020
By Samantha Teague, Libby Curran and Sarah Ward
July 27, 2020

It's about to get a whole lot harder for any Queensland driver to get away with using their mobile phone while driving, or for a driver or front seat passenger to fail to wear a seatbelt for that matter — and it's thanks to new state-of-the art safety cameras being installed to detect the illegal behaviour.

Starting today, Monday, July 27, the Queensland Government is launching a trial of the phone and seatbelt detection cameras. The test phase will run until Christmas and then, if successful, the cameras could be rolled out across the state permanently.

So, how do they work? Well, the cameras will take high-resolution images of the front seat of the car, and those images are then scanned by artificial intelligence to detect folks either using their phones while they're behind the wheel, or not wearing seatbelts if they're driving or sitting in the front passenger seat. The cameras can apparently operate in all conditions, day and night, and regardless of the weather — and they can watch vehicles across multi-traffic lanes, whether installed on overpasses and bridges, or operating from trailers by the roadside.

The new technology will be tested across several metro and regional locations, according to the government, with the trial following the launch of similar world-first cameras in NSW. Victoria has just announced that it'll be testing mobile phone detection cameras as well; however only Queensland's cameras will also capture folks who don't wear a seatbelt.

During Sydney's six-month trial of the cameras in early 2019 — before they were rolled out permanently in late 2019 — the cameras spied more than 100,000 drivers illegally using their phones.

A photo taken during the NSW camera trial

Earlier this year, Queensland implemented new penalties for using your mobile phone while driving — with those caught with their device in their hands and being used for any reason, even when stopped at traffic lights or in congested traffic, facing $1000 fines and the loss of four demerit points. That said, the state government will not be handing out any fines to those captured by the new cameras during the trial, or sending photographs to those involved. Rather, they'll be evaluating the effectiveness of the cameras.

Still, if you're wondering about privacy concerns, images will only be used to identify mobile phone use and the wearing of seatbelts, and to check the registration status of the vehicle. "Images that do not contain any illegal mobile phone use or failure to wear a seatbelt will be deleted by the system in a short timeframe," the government advises.

Queensland's six-month trial of safety cameras starts on Monday, July 27. To find out more, head to the Queensland Government website.

Published on July 27, 2020 by Samantha Teague


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