Mysterious roadside devices baffle Aussie drivers – here's what they're for

A local council has put an end to speculation over the devices.

Mysterious black boxes on the side of the road have left Aussie drivers confused and feeling like they’re being "monitored". One driver told Yahoo News Australia he expected the worst after spotting two strange machines recently about five to 10 metres apart and "each pointed at a different lane".

In a series of photos, the plastic boxes can be seen attached to metal poles with "no parking" signs on them. Fixed to the top of the poles is what appears to be a camera, with wires leading down to the box. "I was worried about them maybe being speed cameras," Hayden Sutherland said, "also about how much we are being monitored nowadays. We have a total lack of privacy."

Black box attached to a pole with a camera on top on the side of Campbelltown Road
Road users feared they were being monitored after spotting these devices. Source: Facebook

Sutherland spotted the devices on Campbelltown Road in Western Sydney and asked a local Facebook group for help identifying what they're for. Residents offered a number of theories, such as catching people who illegally park on the road, detecting unregistered vehicles, and tracking "hoons" after complaints from local "Karens".

Council confirms real reason for devices

Campbelltown Council has since confirmed to Yahoo that the devices are part of a "simple traffic study" in the Campbelltown City Centre area. Temporarily attached to street signs in and around the Campbelltown City Centre, the traffic counters were installed to assist in capturing data that will be used by Transport for New South Wales and Campbelltown Council in planning for transport needs.

The data collected will be used to quantify the level of vehicle use across the street network, including the number of vehicles turning each direction at intersections, using key routes and travelling to and from major destinations. The length of vehicle queues at intersections was also measured, along with testing of usual travel times for journeys.

In addition to the cameras, sensor cables and cars undertaking timed journeys along key routes were also used to gather information.

In a brief about the project online, Campbelltown Council confirmed that all data will be de-identified and anonymous, with no personal or identifying information collected.

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