Sending text messages or talking on the mobile phone while driving can increase risks for potentially fatal accidents.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has long warned of the dangers of distracted driving that involves the use of cellphones.
“When you send or read a text message, you take your eyes off the road for about 5 seconds, long enough to cover the length a football field while driving at 55 mph,” the CDC said.
Special Cameras Designed To Catch Drivers Using Phones
New South Wales in Australia intends to address this problem. The New South Wales Transport revealed on Sunday that it will roll out special cameras designed to catch drivers using mobile phones.
The detection cameras use artificial intelligence to detect drivers using mobile phones 24 hours a day. They can also survive in all weather conditions.
The devices will be set up in fixed and trailer-mounted spots across New South Wales starting in December.
Drivers will not get any warning if they are approaching any of these phone detection cameras.
“We have to unfortunately use the element of surprise to get people to think ‘well, I could get caught at any time’,” NSW Roads Minister Andrew Constance said. “I want behavior to change and I want it changed immediately.”
The program aims to progressively expand to performing 135 million vehicle checks every year by the year 2023.
Program Can Help Save Lives
A six-month pilot trial that involved three cameras checked 85 million cars. During the trial period, 100,00 drivers were captured illegally using their phones. Some were caught using Facebook and texting, while others did worse things.
“Shockingly, one driver was pictured with two hands on his phone while his passenger steered the car traveling at 80kph, putting everyone on the road at risk,” Roads Minister Melinda Pavey said.
“We saw people on Facebook, people texting. We saw people trying to be tricky by having their phone below the window line of their vehicles.
The number of drivers captured using their phones would have translated to $34.5 million in fines, but no fines were issued during the trial period.
Modeling suggests that the cameras could prevent about 100 deadly and serious car crashes over five years.