Mobile phone, seatbelt cameras closer for SA roads

The State Government is seeking information on cameras to catch drivers using mobile phones behind the wheel, and if the technology can be extended to spotting drivers not wearing seatbelts.

May 25, 2021, updated May 25, 2021

The Government announced it would spend $19.4 million installing “state-of-the-art” fixed mobile phone detection cameras at high-risk sites across metropolitan Adelaide in November’s State Budget.

At the time, Road Safety Minister Vincent Tarzia told InDaily that the Government anticipated that the cameras would generate up to $300,000 in fines per week, with installation expected to start from September 2022.

Last week, the Department for Infrastructure and Transport launched a “request for information” process to find out how South Australia could operate the high-definition cameras.

According to a government document, installing the cameras would result “improved road safety outcomes” by deterring people from using their phone behind the wheel.

“The use of a mobile phone while driving is considered to be a significant distraction to the driving task which places the driver, vehicle passengers and other road users at a higher risk of a crash which may result in a serious injury or life lost,” the document states.

“The use of a mobile phone while driving a vehicle is illegal under the South Australian Road Rules and this is currently enforced manually by SAPOL at the road side.

“It is believed that this process could be automated through the use of camera technology, allowing a greater deterrence effect across the road network.” 

The document states the Government also wants to find out whether mobile phone detection cameras have “additional enforcement capabilities”, such as seatbelt detection.

Tarzia told InDaily this morning that the South Australian Government was “always open to considering additional initiatives and technologies that prevent further lives lost and serious injuries”.

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“The Department for Infrastructure and Transport is currently seeking information from technology providers about the capabilities of mobile phone detection cameras,” he said.

“Sadly, distraction is one of the leading causes of lives lost and serious injuries on our roads.”

It comes after the Queensland Government installed high-tech seatbelt detection cameras along its roads last year.

Almost 1000 drivers were caught without seatbelts in the first month of the trial.

The Queensland cameras take several photos of vehicles’ registration plates and front cabins at high speed.

The images are processed through an algorithm that uses indicators to detect whether a driver is holding a mobile phone or not wearing a seatbelt.

A police officer then verifies the images to detect whether an offence has been committed.

Drivers and passengers who are caught not wearing a seatbelt in South Australia face a $388 fine and the loss of three demerit points.

Using a phone while driving attracts a $544 fine and the loss of three demerit points.

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