Motorists ares struggling to break the habit of using mobile phones while driving despite the threat of hefty fines and the roll out of new hi-tech cameras specifically designed to catch them out.
Unmarked detection cameras were rolled out across New South Wales this month and other states are expected to soon follow.
But the lure of using the devices is proving difficult to shake for many motorists.
More than 3000 drivers have already been caught using the devices as the cameras shot 773,532 motorists in the first week.
A Daily Mail Australia photographer caught drivers and riders of motorbikes routinely touching their phones, scrolling and texting on Liverpool St in Sydney’s CBD on Thursday.
And when they weren’t playing with their phones, they were snapped writing notes, eating or fiddling with their centre consoles behind the wheel.
Motorists are showing no sign of slowing down on mobile phone use despite new cameras being rolled out that are designed to catch them
Photographer Sione Chown captured numerous motorists driving while distracted on Liverpool Street
Drivers were captured using their mobile phones while behind the wheel, putting other road users in danger
Drivers can legally use phones in cradles and make and receive phone calls through Bluetooth
How the cameras work
The high definition cameras have artificial intelligence will will capture what’s happening behind the wheel.
Drivers caught by the new camera after the three month grace period will automatically receive a $344 fine and loss of five demerit points.
The fine increases to $457 if you are caught in a school zone.
Images were taken on Liverpool Street, over an hour-long period on Thursday afternoon, with photographer Sione Chown revealing that around 15-20 percent of drivers were preoccupied behind the wheel.
‘A lot of people were distracted,’ Mr Chown said.
Drivers caught using their phones behind the wheel will initially be spared punishment during a three-month grace period which will see them receive a warning letter only.
But after the grace period ends, they will automatically receive a $344 fine and loss of five demerit points, or a $457 fine if caught in a school zone.
The world-first technology targets phone use via fixed and mobile trailer-mounted cameras and follows a six-month trial which caught more than 100,000 drivers.
Transport Minister Andrew Constance slammed motorists for driving while distracted, comparing driving on the phone to drunk driving.
‘It’s stupid, it’s dangerous, it’ll kill someone – and people are not getting the message,’ Mr Constance said.
Drivers were captured blatantly using their mobile devices despite new cameras installed to catch them out
Drivers were captured, eating, writing, and messing with their center console while behind the wheel
Transport Minister Andrew Constance said that driving while using a mobile phone is ‘stupid’ and ‘dangerous’
‘Driving with a mobile phone is like driving drunk. Driving with a mobile phone is equivalent to .08 behind the wheel of a car and that’s why we’re now being hard and fast on this.’
Mr Constance said the grace period was fair and the state government was ‘being kind in that regard.’
‘We want people to get the warning letter and change their behaviour immediately, which I believe will happen,’ he said.
Police will still enforce illegal phone use and issue infringements as usual during the grace period.
About 45 cameras have been rolled out across Sydney and regional NSW, without any signage to indicate them to drivers.
Motorists will only receive a warning letter if caught by the new cameras due to a three-month grace period
The high-tech cameras are fixed and mobile-trailer mounted and are not marked to notify drivers
At the conclusion of the warning period, drivers will be fined $344 – or $457 if caught in a school zone – and lose five demerit points.
Drivers can legally use phone cradles and make and receive phone calls through Bluetooth, Mr Constance said.
The high-definition cameras will be able to catch drivers 24 hours a day, even at night and in any kind of weather conditions.
NSW Centre for Road Safety executive director Bernard Carlon says modelling shows the cameras could prevent 100 fatal and serious injury crashes over five years.
NSW is the first state to introduce laws to enable camera-based enforcement of illegal mobile phone use.
Other states are now looking to introduce similar laws in a desperate bid to reduce the road toll.
Drivers caught after the grace period can face fines of up to $457 and five demerit points if they are caught in a school zone