Drivers warned days ahead of major camera change on Aussie roads

From the first of July, mobile phone detection cameras in NSW will have the capability to spot when drivers aren't buckled up.

A driver on CCTV not wearing a seatbelt, with mobile detection cameras in NSW to detect seatbelt offences from July 1.
Mobile detection cameras will now be able to capture drivers not wearing seatbelts in NSW from July 1. Source: NCA Newswire

Drivers and their passengers are being warned to comply or cop the consequences ahead of new changes to mobile phone detection cameras that will, from July, be able to detect when people aren't wearing their seatbelts.

While the changes have been in the works for some time, road authorities are reminding motorists this week there will be no grace period for those caught breaking the law, with "the message having been out there for five decades", drivers have been told "50 years is enough" warning.

In NSW from the first of next month, mobile phone detection cameras will have the capability to spot when drivers aren't buckled up, in a fresh bid to drastically reduce the number of road deaths around the state — the rate of which data has shown continues to increase.

A driver in SA seen using his 'pinky' finger to grip the steering wheel.
Mobile detection cameras are busting people all over the country for driving under unlawful circumstances. Source: 9News

"This is not a new issue. This technology is being used for other things," NRMA spokesman Peter Khoury told Yahoo News Australia. "It's a really serious matter, people still getting in the car and not putting on their seatbelts. Often it's people who are in an impaired state, those people getting in the passenger seat after they've been drinking."

With the changes just days away, there had been some concern in the lead-up online that speed and mobile phone camera technology had become too invasive. But Khoury said those arguments are baseless.

"The issue of privacy is addressed in the legislation," he said. "What this is about is using that technology that makes sure people comply. It's the same sort of technology we use to detect when cars are speeding, it's just that it's now focusing on the inside the vehicle.

"I don't think privacy is much of a concern. We need to get people to wear their seatbelts, and that's why we support this technology."

Unlike other schemes, NSW politicians voted against implementing a grace period, which hits drivers with warning letters instead of fines, at the outset of the scheme.

They'll now be slugged wth $344 fines and one demerit point per unbelted passenger, with the demerit penalty doubling if two or more passengers are unbelted. All occupants of a vehicle aged over 16 will get a fine for not wearing a seatbelt, including passengers and learner drivers, according to Transport for NSW.

Money raised from the seat belt cameras — which is expected to be in the tens of millions — will also be reinvested into road safety programs. In South Australia for example, during a two-month trial period in which seven million motorists passed through on mobile detection cameras across the state, 71,044 people were found to have been using their mobile behind the wheel.

According to SA Police, the road offences, if detected during a non-trial phase, would have generated more than $45 million in fines.

Meanwhile, government data found 36 motorists or passengers, or 15 per cent of people who died on NSW roads in 2023, did not wear a seatbelt. The numbers were greater for people living in regional Australia, with 85 per cent of deaths and 76 per cent of serious injuries occurring in situations where someone wasn’t wearing the safety device.

NSW Roads Minister John Graham said seatbelts doubled a person’s chance of surviving an accident, and while it has been a legal requirement to wear a seatbelt in NSW since 1971, it was “frankly disturbing” a “small minority” of people still flouted the laws.

with NCA Newswire

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