Australia: New cameras using AI detect thousands of drivers a day using their mobile phone behind the wheel

New cameras detect thousands of drivers a day using their mobile phone behind the wheel

By Bellinda Kontominas Updated Sun at 7:52pm

PHOTO: New high-tech cameras are capable of detecting drivers using their mobile phones day or night and in all weather conditions. (Supplied: NSW Government)

Drivers may think twice about using their mobile phones, after the NSW Government announced a trial of world-first technology able to catch them in the act while behind the wheel.

Key points
·        The technology uses AI to spot drivers in any weather, day or night
·        A trial of the technology at the M4 Motorway and Anzac Parade will start from January
·        The creator's friend died as a result of a driver distracted by their mobile phone

The new high-definition cameras have already detected more than 11,000 drivers using their mobile phones during a month-long test during October, Roads Minister Melinda Pavey said.

"Shockingly, one driver was pictured with two hands on his phone while his passenger steered the car travelling at 80kph, putting everyone on the road at risk," she said.

"We saw people on Facebook, people texting. We saw people trying to be tricky by having their phone below the window line of their vehicles.

"It is a very dangerous act to keep your eyes down low and not on the road, which is why this technology we expect will have a huge impact on driver behaviour and therefore road safety.

Three technology companies took part in the testing period, with Australian company Acusensus chosen to trial their cameras for three months from January.

The cameras were developed by Alex Jannink from Acusensus after his friend James Rapley was killed by a driver distracted while using their mobile phone.

"I think that James would be proud of any solution that reduces trauma on our roads," he said.

"James and I worked together for three years and we delivered the NSW mobile speed enforcement technology so we were both involved in road safety already."

Improving driver behavior

The cameras will use artificial intelligence to detect people illegally using their phones while driving and can be used in all weather, day or night.

They can also catch drivers travelling up to 300 kph.

The cameras will be located at the Clunies Ross Street overpass on the M4 at Prospect and Anzac Parade at Moore Park, as well as a mobile camera to "keep people guessing".

"If people know where those cameras are they'll adjust their behaviours but maybe not improve their behaviour," Mrs Pavey said.

No fines will be issued during the trial period but drivers caught illegally using their mobile phones will receive warning letters.

"If, at the end of the trial, the technology proves to be foolproof, the community will be made aware of its permanent use," Mrs Pavey said.

"We don't want to get ahead of ourselves, we need it to be 100 per cent perfect so that it stands up in a court of law."

Mrs Pavey said there was strong community support for the cameras and she hoped they would change driver behaviour to save lives.

"Not only is it a problem in terms of road safety, but we all suspect the amount of collisions that we have in Sydney that impede the network operating to its full efficiency is quite impacted by people inappropriately using mobile phones," she said.

It is illegal for NSW drivers to hold their mobile phone while behind the wheel, however they can talk, play music or use a navigation app if the phone is in a cradle.

First posted Sat at 5:50pm


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