Monday, May 20, 2024

SA tests state’s first mobile phone detection cameras

Testing is underway on South Australia’s first mobile phone detection cameras, which have been installed at key metropolitan corridors in a bid to reduce dangerous distraction behind the wheel.

Overhead cameras at four busy locations across Adelaide have been set up, targeting drivers who use their mobile phones and put themselves and other road users at risk, SA’s Department of Infrastructure and Transport said in a statement.

Sites now testing include South Road, at Torrensville, with SA Police detecting one in 84 driversusing their mobile phones – at an average of 177 incidents per day – during a single-lane trial of the new technology last year.

Between 1 April and 28 April 2023, a total of 4,955 incidents were detected from 415,805 passing vehicles – equating to an offence rate of 1.19%.

Driver inattention, which includes phone use, is a contributing factor in around half of all lives lost and over a third of serious injuries – an issue the SA Government says it is determined to address.

Mobile phone detection cameras have been fitted on existing digital signage at:

  • South Road, Torrensville
  • Southern Expressway, Darlington
  • North-South Motorway, Regency Park
  • Port Wakefield Road, Gepps Cross

A fifth site, at Port Road in Hindmarsh, will go live for testing in the coming weeks, the Department confirmed.

Last year, 117 lives were lost on South Australian roads, while 856 people suffered serious injuries. Of the 27 lives lost in 2024, seven have been linked to distraction along with 123 serious injuries.

During the testing phase from April 2024, vehicles will be photographed and validated by SA Police but no further action will be taken against drivers until 19 June 2024 when a three-month grace period begins.

During this grace period, vehicle owners will be issued with a warning letter advising them that the driver of their vehicle has been detected by the camera.

From 19 September 2024, SA Police will issue fines to vehicle owners or drivers, which are currently $540 (plus a $99 Victims of Crime levy) and three demerit points.

All funds raised from the fines will be returned to the Community Road Safety Fund, to deliver road safety improvements, education programs and hard-hitting public advertising across the state.

The Department says camera locations were selected based on research by Adelaide University’s Centre for Automotive Safety Research, considering crash trends and targeting busy road corridors across metropolitan Adelaide.

The cameras work by capturing high quality images from multiple angles through the driver’s windscreen, with artificial intelligence software identifying drivers on their mobile phones.

Photographs of drivers are then validated by SA Police, with images of those following the law to be deleted.

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