SA’s first mobile phone detection camera installed

South Australia is set to enhance road safety with the recent installation of its first mobile phone detection cameras, a $15.9 million initiative aimed at reducing driver distraction.

South Australia is set to enhance road safety with the recent installation of its first mobile phone detection cameras, a $15.9 million initiative aimed at reducing driver distraction. This pivotal move, spearheaded by the State Government, aims to diminish road trauma and follows a successful trial earlier this year.

The technology has been installed at five key locations across Adelaide, chosen based on research conducted by Adelaide University’s Centre for Automotive Safety Research. These locations are:

  • Southern Expressway, Darlington
  • South Road, Torrensville
  • North South Motorway, Regency Park
  • Port Road, Hindmarsh
  • Port Wakefield Road, Gepps Cross.

This strategic selection targets crash trends and busy road corridors in various areas of the city, with the South Road Torrensville camera marking the latest installation in this significant road safety initiative.

Following final reviews, these mobile phone detection cameras (MPDC) have become operational. They are installed on existing digital variable message signs. To allow drivers time to adjust to this new system, a three-month educational period has been initiated, during which no fines or demerit points will be issued. However, after this period, penalties for illegal mobile phone use while driving will become stringent, with fines set at $540, plus a $99 victims of crime levy, and three demerit points.

The State Government has announced that all funds collected from these fines will be directed to the Community Road Safety Fund. This fund is crucial for delivering essential road safety initiatives, including infrastructure improvements, educational programs, and impactful public advertising campaigns.

Inattention, particularly due to mobile phone usage, is a leading cause of road accidents in South Australia, contributing to approximately half of all lives lost and over a third of serious injuries on the roads. MPDCs aim to save lives by detecting and deterring this dangerous behavior. They capture high-quality images through the driver’s windscreen from multiple angles, utilizing artificial intelligence to identify drivers using their phones. These images are then verified by SA Police, with those depicting law-abiding drivers being discarded.

This initiative is part of the state’s Road Safety Action Plan 2023-25 and follows the model of New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland, where similar cameras are already making a difference. A grace period is also in place in the Australian Capital Territory.

Joe Szakacs MP, Minister for Police, stresses the cameras’ role in combating driver distraction, saying, “With a devastating number of lives lost in 2023, these cameras serve as another crucial tool… Drivers must give their full attention to the driving task… We’re out to change behavior and help drivers realize that there is no safe level of mobile use while driving.”

Ian Parrot, SAPOL Assistant Commissioner State Operations Service, highlights the increasing prevalence of mobile phone use while driving and its significant contribution to crashes resulting in serious injuries and deaths. He hopes the MPDCs will strengthen enforcement capabilities and foster a shift in driver behavior.

Darren Davis, President of the Get Home Safe Foundation, calls for societal change and personal accountability, urging everyone to reject the acceptance of mobile device use while driving and to consider the irreversible sorrow faced by families who have lost loved ones in such accidents.

This initiative represents a part of a broader commitment to road safety by the Malinauskas Government, which includes a recent $168 million joint funding commitment with the Commonwealth Government and $98 million in the 2023-24 State Budget, totaling over a quarter of a billion dollars invested in the next five years to enhance road safety in South Australia.

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