SA’s first mobile phone detection camera locations revealed

SA’s first mobile phone detection cameras will soon be rolled out on key metropolitan corridors in a $15.9 million initiative as the State Government pushes to reduce road trauma caused by driver distraction.

South Australia is poised to enhance road safety with the introduction of its first mobile phone detection cameras, a $15.9 million initiative targeting driver distraction. This significant move, part of the State Government’s efforts to mitigate road trauma, follows a successful trial earlier this year.

The technology will be implemented at five key locations across Adelaide, chosen based on research 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 is aimed at addressing crash trends and busy road corridors across different areas of the city.

Pending final reviews, these mobile phone detection cameras (MPDC) are expected to be operational by June 2024. Notably, they will be installed on existing digital variable message signage. Before enforcement begins, a three-month educational period from June to September 2024 will allow drivers to adapt to this new system. During this period, no fines or demerit points will be issued. However, post-September, penalties for illegal mobile phone use while driving will be stringent, with fines currently set at $540, plus a $99 victims of crime levy, and three demerit points.

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

Inattention, often due to mobile phone usage, is a significant factor in road accidents in South Australia. It contributes to around half of all lives lost and over a third of serious injuries on the roads. MPDCs are designed to save lives by detecting and deterring this dangerous behavior. They work by capturing high-quality images through the driver’s windscreen from multiple angles, using artificial intelligence to identify drivers using their phones. These images are then validated by SA Police, with those showing law-abiding drivers being deleted.

The initiative aligns with the state’s Road Safety Action Plan 2023-25 and follows the lead of New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland, where similar cameras are already in operation. A grace period is also underway in the Australian Capital Territory.

Joe Szakacs MP, Minister for Police, emphasizes the cameras’ role in addressing driver distraction, stating, “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 behaviour and help drivers realise that there is no safe level of mobile use while driving.”

Ian Parrot, SAPOL Assistant Commissioner State Operations Service, points out the increasing commonality of mobile phone use while driving, noting its significant role in crashes resulting in serious injuries and deaths. He hopes the MPDCs will enhance enforcement capabilities and contribute to changing driver behavior.

Darren Davis, President of the Get Home Safe Foundation, also weighs in, urging societal change and personal responsibility. He calls for everyone to challenge the acceptance of mobile device use while driving, highlighting the irreparable heartache experienced by families who have lost loved ones in such accidents.

This initiative is a part of a broader commitment to road safety by the Malinauskas Government, including 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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