New camera technology to catch drivers

New images have laid bare the extent of drivers texting or using their phones while driving, placing the lives of Victorians at risk.

The Victorian Government will roll out new mobile phone camera technology over the next two years that will help police slap hefty fines onto drivers taking part in the dangerous behaviour.

A three-month trial of the technology assessed more than 600,000 vehicles on Victorian roads, and found a whopping one in 42 drivers were detected illegally using a mobile phone behind the wheel.

The technology used two portable cameras across a number of metropolitan and regional locations.

The highest rates of mobile phone use occurred at Craigieburn Road East in Wollert, Calder Park Drive in Hillside and Old Geelong Road at Laverton.

The technology also detected drivers who weren’t wearing seatbelts, driving without hands on the wheel or with pets on laps.

Acting Police Minister Danny Pearson said the findings were unacceptable.

“Using your phone while driving is unbelievably dangerous, and this trial has shown just how common it is on our roads,” he said.

“It’s unacceptable that so many Victorians are putting others’ lives at risk.”

The new $33.7 million technology will be rolled out officially by 2023 to help police manage the issue, making it a first for the state.

Data from Monash University Accident Research Centre has shown the technology has the capacity to prevent 95 casualty crashes every year.

Further stakeholder consultation, technology testing and demonstrations, as well as a public campaign are being prepared ahead of the technology being rolled out for enforcement.

The technology uses an artificial intelligence enabled camera system to capture high-resolution images of passing vehicles in all traffic and weather conditions.

Mr Pearson said he hoped the initiative would go towards reducing road deaths.

“It’s up to all of us to do the right thing and put our phones away while driving to help keep our roads safe.”

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