Sneaky new driving rule hits state in days

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NewsWire Photos - Mobile phone detection cameras will soon also be used to detect whether drivers and passengers are using their seatbelts on NSW roads. Seatbelts have been mandatory by law in NSW for more than 50 years, however 15 percent of deaths on NSW roads every year involved seatbelt noncompliance. Picture: NewsWire handout
Mobile phone detection cameras will soon be able to detect drivers and passengers who fail to wear seatbelts. Picture: NewsWire handout

Mobile phone detection cameras will soon be able to bust NSW drivers not wearing a seatbelt, with the government trying to lower the number of avoidable deaths that occur on the state’s roads each year.

The new capabilities come online from July 1, and drivers and passengers blatantly flouting the laws will be stung with the fine.

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.

In NSW, drivers are fined $344 and one demerit point per unbelted passenger, with the demerit penalty doubling if two or more passengers are unbelted.

Money raised from the seat belt cameras will also be reinvested into road safety programs.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NewsWire Photos - Mobile phone detection cameras will soon also be used to detect whether drivers and passengers are using their seatbelts on NSW roads. Seatbelts have been mandatory by law in NSW for more than 50 years, however 15 percent of deaths on NSW roads every year involved seatbelt noncompliance. Picture: NewsWire handout
Mobile phone detection cameras will soon be able to detect drivers and passengers who fail to wear seatbelts Picture: NewsWire handout

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.

“If camera enforcement can convince those people to buckle up, we can reduce the 15 per cent of deaths that involve a belt not being worn,” he said.

“Camera enforcement will be a significant step to reducing needless trauma on the roads that comes at the cost of families, loved ones and the first responders who routinely deal with unimaginable tragedy.”

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Roads Minister John Graham said the new initiative would be a ‘significant step’ in reducing deaths as a result of someone not wearing a seatbelt. Picture: NewsWire / Gaye Gerard

Regional Transport and Roads Minister Jenny Aitchison said NSW Police fined about 10,000 people a year for shirking the law.

“Driving in the country brings with it different challenges to city driving – longer distances are often covered on higher speed roads and we know that although country residents make up about a third of the NSW population they sadly make up around two-thirds of deaths on NSW roads,” she said.

“Nobody is above the law and we want to see every single person wear a seatbelt and wear it correctly every single trip.

“We cannot over-estimate how important wearing a seatbelt is to saving your life if the worst happens and you’re in a crash.”