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New Cameras Have One Goal: Catch Drivers on Phones

Australia's New South Wales may be the first to employ the technology
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 24, 2019 12:11 PM CDT
This photo captured by a Mobile Phone Detection Camera shows a driver using a mobile phone while driving in Australia.   (Transport for NSW via AP)

(Newser) – Australia's most populous state is trying to get people to put down their phones while driving by rolling out cameras to prosecute distracted motorists. New South Wales Roads Minister Andrew Constance says his is the first jurisdiction in the world to use such technology to punish drivers distracted by social media, text messages, or phone calls, per the AP. The government intends to roll out 45 Mobile Phone Detection Cameras across the state by December. In fact, each unit contains two cameras. One photographs a car's registration plate and a second high-set lens looks down through the windscreen and can see what drivers are doing with their hands. The units use artificial intelligence to exclude drivers who are not touching their phones.

Photos that show suspected illegal behavior are referred for verification by human eyes before an infringement notice is sent to the vehicle's registered owner along with a fine equal to $232 in the US. A six-month trial of two fixed cameras this year checked 8.5 million vehicles and detected more than 100,000 drivers with their hands on phones, including one driver who was using a phone and iPad simultaneously, the government said. It wants to expand the program to 135 million checks a year by 2023 as modeling found that the cameras could prevent 100 fatal and serious injuries over five years.

(Read more Australia stories.)

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