Mobile Phones – The Camera That Catches ALL – Revenue Or Safety?

After a successful, month-long test period the cameras are now being trailed in two locations across Sydney and, while drivers will be notified if they have been caught, there is a slight catch.

Mobile Phones – The Camera That Catches ALL – Revenue Or Safety?

According to reports  more than 40,000 infringements were issued by police for illegal mobile phone use in the 2016‑17 financial year. As a result, emerging automated camera and software technology is now being used to supplement police enforcement and further deter motorists from using mobile phones illegally.

We have heard it in the media now for some time that Cameras will soon be able to show everything happening inside the vehicle. But when exactly are these Cameras going live?

According to Seven News 7 Sydney two fixed locations for the mobile phone detection cameras that will begin operating on Sydney roads from next week are already to begin issuing penalty notices. Soon you can expect to be detected using your phone by many speed cameras, red light cameras, T-Way cameras, bus lane cameras, and even motorway toll cameras.

According to another report the world-first technology is capable of catching drivers using their phones, even at night time, in poor weather conditions or at speeds up to 300km/h.

According to further reports, these cameras were only in trial phase. However, now we informed that cameras are located on the Clunies Ross St overpass on the M4 Motorway at Prospect and on Anzac Parade at Moore Park and are set to enforcing passengers from as early as next week (January 2019). Drivers however will still have a get-out-of-gaol card and will only receive a letter telling of warning until April 2019 where fines and demerit points will apply.

THE LAW RELATING TO MOBILE PHONE USE WHILE DRIVING

The New South Wales Road Rules 2014 prohibits mobile phone use by novice drivers and limit other licence holders’ phone use. The ways the law works is as follows:

  1. Learner, P1 and P2 drivers are not permitted to use any function of their mobile phones while driving whatsoever;
  2. Unrestricted licence holders can only make or receive calls or play music if this does not involve touching the phone or if the phone is in a cradle fixed to the vehicle;

In other words, nobody is allowed to touch their phone while drive under any circumstances

WHAT ABOUT THE IPHONE WATCH?

A Senior Sergeant reported that

“There is no doubt there is potential for distraction if a driver has a message beep at them on their watch phone,”.

Our team at National Criminal Lawyers have interpreted the law in respect of offences relating to using a hand held device. Currently as it stands, it is not illegal to use an iphone watch whilst driving so long as you are not touching the watch. That is not to say that if a collision occurs, you may avoid a charge of negligent or dangerous driving.

Read more on negligent driving here.

PENALTIES

As of September 2018, using a mobile phone while driving will result in the loss of five demerit points and an astounding 10 points if caught during a double demerit points period. Depending on your circumstances, this may result in your licence being suspended.

The current monetary fine is $337.

 METHODS OF DETECTION

NSW now use a variety of methods to detect drivers using their phones while driving.

The most common method previously used have been the Line-of-site technique whereby trained officers catch a person using their mobile phone while patrolling however, long-ranged cameras have been used with success, and helmet cameras in motorcycle police continue to be used.

In addition to the above many speed cameras, red light cameras, T-Way cameras, bus lane cameras, and even motorway toll cameras are being modified to catch unsuspecting motorist. On top bridge cameras are also now available for use.

REVENUE RAISING OR SAFETY?

While the state government insists the 5 demerit points and $337 fine is not about harshly penalising offenders but rather to deter them from using their phone while driving it is clear during a test in Melbourne that the revenue raised by the imposition of this new technology will be not insignificant. In particular one red-light style camera capable of photographing drivers illegally using their mobile phones was trialed last year in Melbourne over the freeway. The technology —a world first — detected 272 culprits during a five-hour test. That means if it were to have been deployed in Sydney with the current monetary penalty then for five hours of work a mobile phone detection camera raises approximately $91,664. This is probably even a moderate estimate as this particular test only covered one lane of the Melbourne Eastern Freeway.

CONCLUSIONS

New high-tech speed cameras are now watching you closer than ever before. In fact, there are already hundreds of cameras across NSW that are ready or almost ready to enforce mobile phone use. Their location is no secret as the cameras that will initially detect and enforce mobile phone use by drivers have been on our roads for years.

If you receive a penalty notice or are at risk of being suspended due to mobile phone use, you should contact National Criminal Lawyers. We are specialists in traffic law and we can help you keep your licence.

ADVICE TO THOSE WHO RECEIVE A PENALTY NOTICE FOR TRAFFIC MATTERS

  1. You are only required by law to provide your license, and/or partake in a breath/drug test if asked by a police officer;
  2. If you do not have your license with you in the car, you must provide your name, address and DOB;
  3. You are not required to answer any other question;
  4. It is always good practise to ask the police for their name, rank and station and keep a file note of same;
  5. Always contact National Criminal Lawyers for sound advice (you may be lucky enough to keep your points and not pay a fine). Remember your first consultation is always FREE.
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