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World-first, life saving, Mobile Phone Detection Camera Programme receives Royal Award

15 December 2020

Transport for NSW has led the world in introducing innovative automated camera enforcement technology to tackle illegal mobile phone use while driving.

Until now, achieving widespread deterrence has been limited and the only enforcement option was on on-road policing.

Despite the lack of existing suitable technology, the team worked with the industry to support them to meet rigorous government, legal and community requirements. Technology developed by an Australian start-up ultimately led the innovation that will now supply a worldwide market.

Camera technology and artificial intelligence software were developed by an Australian company to meet the exacting requirements necessary to meet privacy, policy and regulatory obligations and ensure safety outcomes are achieved.

Challenging established policy positions on issues such as co-locating signage with the cameras, for example, means the program will achieve the same benefits in one year that would otherwise take five years to achieve.

Following rigorous testing and piloting of the camera system, warning letters were sent for three months from December 2019 and penalty notices have been sent to non-compliant drivers since 1 March 2020. A bespoke and comprehensive community education campaign spanning TV, Radio, Social and both fixed and variable message signs ensured the community is engaged with the road rules and motivated to change their behaviour.

During the pilot, 1 in every 82 drivers (1.2%) were detected using their mobile phone illegally. However early data since enforcement commenced, suggests a positive shift in driver behaviour and a significant improvement in compliance with the law. Between March and June 2020, 1 in every 420 drivers (0.24%) were detected illegally using their phone and issued a penalty notice.

The automated enforcement solution is a game-changing, sustainable means of addressing this persistent behavioural safety issue.

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