‘It’s NOT about revenue’: Government defends controversial $88million project to bust drivers using mobile phones behind the wheel – and reveal why there will be no warning signs
- Cameras designed to bust people driving and on their phones roll out by 2020
- A pilot version of the program caught 100,000 drivers using their phones
- Drivers have expressed concerns about privacy and how images will be stored
- Transport Minister Andrew Constance has denied it’s about revenue raising
The government has defended its controversial plan to implement cameras in a bid to bust drivers who use their mobile phones behind the wheel.
Transport for New South Wales will spend $88 million on cameras to be placed at 45 locations across the state.
From March 1 drivers will cop fines of $344 and lose five demerit points if they are caught using their phones behind the wheel.
The project announced on Sunday has already been met with backlash, but Transport Minister Andrew Constance said ‘It’s not about revenue – it’s about saving lives’.
‘We have to unfortunately use the element of surprise to get people to think ‘well, I could get caught at any time,’ he said.
The project, announced on Sunday, has already been met with backlash, but Transport Minister Andrew Constance said ‘It’s not about revenue – it’s about saving lives’
‘Unfortunately some people haven’t received the message and think they can continue to put the safety of themselves, their passengers and the community at risk without consequence.
‘I want behaviour to change and I want it changed immediately.’
Minister for Regional Roads Paul Toole said independent modelling suggested these cameras could prevent 100 fatalities and serious accidents every year.
‘We have to unfortunately use the element of surprise to get people to think ”well, I could get caught at any time”,’ he said.
The announcement by Transport for New South Wales comes after a six-month pilot program between January and June in which 100,000 drivers were busted using their phones while driving
Minister for Regional Roads Paul Toole said independent modelling suggested these cameras could prevent 100 fatalities and serious accidents every year
A six-month pilot program between January and June this year busted 100,000 motorists using their phones while driving.
The cameras operate 24 hours a day and in all weather conditions, and take images of the driver and passenger seat.
Some cameras will be fixed while others will be portable and move across the state.
Artificial intelligence will review the images and if someone is found to be using their mobile phone the image will be verified by authorised personnel.
Some drivers have expressed concerns about privacy and how their image will be stored.
The department said that the Privacy Commissioner has been involved since the pilot version of the program.
Transport for NSW has previously said the images are held securely and Mr Constance told the Daily Telegraph most are binned within 48 hours and humans will only see images with suspected law breaking.
The publication also reported drivers won’t know where the cameras will be located.
Some drivers have expressed concerns about privacy and how their image will be stored
Peter Khoury, a spokesperson for the NRMA, said the insurance company supported the cameras but were concerned about the fact drivers wouldn’t know where they are.
‘The NRMA fought for these cameras but they must come with warning signs in the same way every other camera on our roads has,’ Mr Khoury said.
‘These cameras must be about getting people to put down their phones, not taking away licences.’
The roll-out is part of the Road Safety Plan 2021.
As of September 19 there have been 269 deaths on New South Wales roads this year.
Assistant Commissioner Michael Corboy, NSW Police Traffic and Highway Patrol Commander said more than 16,500 people had been busted driving and on their mobile in 2019.