Police are going to extraordinary lengths to crack down on drivers using their mobile phones behind the wheel – sneakily hiding on top of overpasses to catch them breaking the law.
The new tactic, revealed by a motorist’s dashcam on King Georges Road, in Sydney’s Beverly Hills, involves officers spotting drivers on the phone and then radioing ahead to their colleagues.
The alleged offender is then pulled over and hit with an infringement notice – which is a hefty $433 fine and the loss of five points.
The motorist whose dashcam captured the footage witnessed drivers being pulled up shortly after passing beneath the underpass.
The new tactic followed Daily Mail Australia revelations that police officers were busting phone users while disguised as window washers at a busy intersection.
In one example, a police officer was spotted in footage taken by a motorist’s dashcam on September 5 standing on a footbridge (pictured) above King Georges Road, in Sydney’s Beverly Hills
‘It’s not just window washers you need to watch for. But you tend to notice these things if you aren’t on your phone,’ the motorist who captured the photos said.
‘Moral of the story, stay off your phone if you are operating a vehicle.’
A driver first published a picture claiming to show police dressed as window washers to a Reddit thread. The photo showed who the driver believed to be undercover police, dressed in sunglasses and with their caps on backwards and carrying squeegees.
On Tuesday, Victoria Police confirmed police had been dressing as window washers as part of a covert operation to catch drivers on their phones at the intersection of Maroondah Highway and Springvale Road in Nunawading, east Melbourne.
The driver speculated the officer was warning his colleagues positioned slightly further up the road (pictured left), alerting them to vehicles they needed to pull over
The post, shared to Reddit, read: ‘This is amazing. Undercover cops pretending to be windscreen washers and catching people on their phones at the lights.’
The sting involved officers radioing their colleagues 200m down the road, who then pulled the driver over and issued them a fine.
Police issued 38 infringement notices to drivers for using their mobile phone while driving, while at least one was caught driving without their seatbelt fastened.
An undercover officer (pictured) wore hi-vis, a backwards cap, dark sunglasses and carried a squeegee while patrolling vehicles pulled up at the lights
The operation would have earned authorities about $18,390 based on a standard on-the-spot fine.
Officers posing as window washers did not actually wash any windows.
Evidence of the cunning tactic attracted mixed responses from motorists, with some praising the ‘clever’ plan and others condemning its ‘hypocritical’ nature.
‘Clever! You know what, if it saves lives go for it. The amount of drivers I pass and see them look down at their phones,’ someone said.
‘It is meant to change the blase behaviour around touching devices. If you do it at a set of lights, you’re more likely to do it whilst driving,’ another wrote.
Many others however slammed the measure as an unnecessary waste of taxpayer money.
‘How low can you go,’ one wrote, another saying: ‘Shouldn’t Victorian Police have bigger fish to fry with all that’s been going on of late. People don’t feel safe and this is the kind of undercover operation they feel is a priority.’
Another dissatisfied commenter wrote: ‘This is where all those extra police are going. Is this Victoria or The Looney Tunes?
Road users had mixed reactions to the bizarre practice, some in favour and others particularly annoyed
Some thought the officer could have improved his disguise because according to them, ‘window washers don’t wear hi-vis’.
The penalty for using a mobile phone or device under Victorian law is four demerit points and an on-the-spot fine of $476.
Roadside window washers are illegal in all states except for the ACT.
One Canberra coroner partly blamed the practice for distracting a driver at an intersection – who was then fatally struck by a truck with faulty brakes.