Mobile phone camera trial starts

A three-month trial of state-of-the-art safety cameras that will capture distracted drivers on Victoria’s roads will start this week throughout the state.

The technology is designed to detect mobile phone use behind the wheel and potentially other illegal driving activities, making our roads safer for the majority of road users who do the right thing.

The trial – which begins this Wednesday, 29 July – will ensure the technology operates accurately and is appropriate for use on Victorian roads before a potential rollout.

Research shows drivers who use a mobile phone while driving are four times more likely to cause a fatal road accident. Texting, browsing and emailing increase the crash risk even further – up to ten times.

In 2017-18, more than 30,000 motorists were issued with fines for using a mobile phone while driving in Victoria. Drivers and riders involved in distraction-related crashes may make up at least 11 per cent of road fatalities.

As well as capturing drivers illegally using their mobile phones while driving, the cameras will be tested for possible future use to crack down on other dangerous driver behaviour on Victorian roads, including not wearing a seatbelt.

No infringements will be issued during the pilot and number plate matching will not be undertaken. All photographs captured will be deleted, except for a limited number of de-identified images.

The trial will help understand how the technology can be integrated with the existing road safety camera systems and ensure the cameras operate effectively and accurately, so fines issued under a full rollout are appropriate.

If introduced to Victorian roads, the technology will be able to operate from any location, 24 hours a day, in all conditions, meaning drivers who choose to do the wrong thing will be caught out.

Research conducted by the Monash University Accident Research Centre estimated an automated mobile phone enforcement camera program could prevent 95 casualty crashes per year and save taxpayers $21 million annually.

The cameras allow high-resolution images to be captured in all conditions, regardless of weather and light levels, and for those images to be reviewed in real time to detect potential offences.

Testing will focus on a relocatable version of the technology across several metropolitan and regional locations and will be conducted by the technology provider, Acusensus, and the current traffic camera services contractor.

The government provided more than $120 million dollars in the Victorian Budget 2019/20 to increase mobile camera enforcement by 75 per cent over the coming years and investigate new road safety camera capabilities.