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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Mobile phone blitz from Wednesday

A three-month trial of state-of-the-art safety cameras that will capture distracted drivers on Victorian roads is set to get underway on Wednesday.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Lisa Neville said the technology was designed to detect mobile phone use behind the wheel and potentially other illegal driving activities, making roads safer for the majority of road users who do the right thing.

She said the trial would ensure the technology operates accurately and is appropriate for use on Victorian roads before a potential rollout statewide.

“We know distracted drivers can have devastating outcomes on our roads – this technology is another step towards targeting this kind of unacceptable behaviour and keeping all road users safe,” said Minister Neville.

“We all have a role to play in reducing our road toll – every time someone picks up their phone behind the wheel they are putting lives in danger. This technology will detect those who choose to put lives at risk on our roads.”

Ms Neville said research showed drivers who use a mobile phone while driving were four times more likely to cause a fatal road accident.

“Texting, browsing and emailing increase the crash risk even further – up to 10 times.”

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

Minister for Roads and Road Safety, Ben Carroll said that as well as capturing drivers illegally using their mobile phones, the cameras would be tested for possible future use to crack down on other dangerous driver behaviour on Victorian roads, including not wearing a seatbelt.

“We know how dangerous it is to use your phone while driving – that’s why we’re trialing this new technology to help stamp out this irresponsible behaviour.”

He said no infringements would be issued during the pilot and number plate matching would not be undertaken, while all photographs captured during the trial to be deleted, except for a limited number of de-identified images.

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.

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