A transportable mobile phone detector camera.
A transportable mobile phone detector camera.

‘ANYWHERE, ANYTIME’: Mobile phone cameras deployed

IPSWICH drivers are being warned mobile phone detection cameras “could be located anywhere, anytime” as part of a trial that will run until the end of the year.

The specialised cameras can also capture people failing to wear a seatbelt and monitor vehicles across multiple lanes.

The trial was postponed in April due to COVID-19 but kicked off late last month.

A rollout in New South Wales saw a ‘handful’ of cameras catch 21,000 motorists using handheld devices in two months.

The cameras, which can operate 24/7, can be installed on bridges or overpasses or from roadside trailers.

Drivers caught without a seatbelt on or with a phone in their hand during the trial won’t be fined.

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Since the $1000 fine for distracted drivers came into effect in February, more than 2300 offences have been detected and fines totalling $2.3 million issued.

A Transport and Main Roads spokesperson said cameras will be moved to “multiple locations” throughout Queensland as part of the trial.

“Motorists should assume they could be located anywhere, anytime,” they said.

“The more motorists who are aware of the cameras and stop using their phones illegally and buckle up, the safer our roads become.

“Cameras will be located at sites that will deliver road safety benefits, and may be different to locations that target speed and red light offences.

“If the evaluation of the technology proves it successful the cameras will be rolled out from 2021.

“The cameras will only be used to detect illegal mobile phone use and front seat occupants who do not wear their seatbelt.”

Between the start of the year and August 5, there were 145 fatalities on Queensland roads, which is 26 per cent greater over the same period last year.

Senior Sergeant Troy Hamilton.
Senior Sergeant Troy Hamilton.

Ipswich Road Policing Unit officer in charge Senior Sergeant Troy Hamilton said the technology was a step in the right direction to improve road safety.

He said the $1000 fine - the toughest penalty for the offence in Australia - was a “real wake up call” for drivers,

“There’s still instances where people are using their phones and being caught by police and necessary action has been taken,” he said.

“We encourage people not to become complacent.

“Get into the habit of putting your phone in your handbag or on the back seat where it’s out of sight and out of mind.”

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Snr Sgt Hamilton said police had noticed an alarming number of people filming a crash on their phones as they drove passed.

“They need footage to post on social media,” he said.

“It’s just crazy. It’s another accident waiting to happen.”

Snr Sgt Hamilton said police had noticed an uptick in drivers acting impatiently since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out.

“There’s certainly been an obvious increase in the impatience of people but certainly what we’re finding is there’s more higher speeds detected by people who in more of a rush,” he said.

“They’re frustrated, they’re impatient … there’s a whole lot of reasons.

“It’s no excuse.”

Read more stories by Lachlan McIvor here.

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