Aussies warned as mobile detection cameras nab 66,000 drivers in one state

Drivers in Western Australia have been warned the cameras will be rolled out this year.

An Australian state will become the latest to introduce mobile detection cameras after a trial busted more than 66,000 drivers distracted behind the wheel.

Motorists in Western Australia have been warned the new cameras will be rolled out this year after a successful six-month test that ended last February. It caught a driver using their phone every four minutes, The West Australian reports.

The cameras — placed at 94 different locations — nabbed 66,787 people for “verified mobile phone offences’, however none of them received a fine because they were being used in a trial. Mobile road safety cameras can also detect speeding and seatbelt offences.

A mobile detection camera is seen on the M1 Motorway south of Brisbane.
Western Australia will become the latest to introduce mobile detection cameras after a trial nabbed 66,000 drivers. Source: AAP

Road Safety Minister David Michael told the publication the Cook Government is “working towards having a number of these cameras operational this year”. “This technology will dramatically increase the likelihood of phone-distracted drivers getting caught,” he said. “But the fear of getting caught should not be the motivator for good driving practice.”

Despite the state seeing the number of mobile phone infringements dropping by almost half last year last year, there are still concerns too many people are using them illegally. In WA, it is a $1,000 fine and four demerits if you are caught texting or using social media, or $500 and three demerits if you touch a phone not in a cradle.

States gain millions of dollars from mobile camera fines

Drivers have seen an increase in the number of yellow or white boxes on the side of the road since speed cameras were first introduced in Australia in 1985, Simon Raftery the Centre for Automotive Safety Research at the University of Adelaide said in an article for The Conversation just days before Christmas.

In the past three years, mobile detection cameras have been implemented in NSW, Queensland, Victoria, the ACT and Tasmania.

Photo released by Transport for NSW shows a driver using a mobile phone while driving in Australia.
Queensland and Tasmania also use the cameras for seatbelt infringements. Source: Transport for NSW via AP

South Australia will join WA this year with plans to roll out mobile phone detection cameras as part of an initiative to reduce road trauma as the state tries to tackle its gruesome spike in road deaths. Queensland and Tasmania are the only states that also use the cameras for seatbelt infringements. NSW will too from mid-2024.

In their first month of use in 2020, new mobile phone detection cameras in Sydney netted $7 million in fines, increasing revenue by 1500 per cent. In the year since its traffic cameras were set up, Queensland’s revenue has jumped by $200 million for speeding and seatbelt fines, the ABC reports.

According to the Victorian Government, in the 2021-22 financial year, fines issued from road safety cameras amounted to $404 million.

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