Almost 1000 drivers a day are being captured using their mobile phones while behind the wheel, according to a phone detection camera trial in Sydney.
Incredibly all of the drivers were sprung at just two locations, on the M4 motorway at Prospect and at Anzac Parade, Moore Park.
According to 9News, the high-resolution cameras have captured 20,125 cases of illegal phone use in the first 25 days since the trial began on January 7.
These include a driver holding a phone in each hand, and appearing to text on one of them while lightly holding to the steering wheel with his other hand.
Another image showed a driver with both hands on his smartphone held close to his face, while his passenger held on to the steering wheel (below).
The cameras also captured a woman with both hands on her phone while the steering wheel remained untouched.
Luckily for them no fines are being issued during the three-month trial, which if successful will be followed by a one-month grace period where drivers will be issued warning letters without an accompanying fine.
After that all bets will be off, with heavy penalties including five demerits and a fine of $337, or $448 for school zones. If each driver detected so far was slapped with a $337 infringement, those two cameras alone would have earned the state $6.8 million over just 25 days.
The system uses high-resolution cameras to snap photos of each car, with artificial intelligence then sorting through each image to see if a phone is being used by the driver. The cameras are said to work in both day and night time, in poor weather, and can detect vehicles travelling at up to 300km/h.
A human operator then validates images that indicate a positive result.
Unless NSW drivers change their behaviour the state government is expected to reap a significant windfall with the new technology.
Last financial year, around 40,000 fines were issued for illegal mobile phone use without the benefit of the cameras. Interestingly 30 to 39 year old drivers where the main offenders, receiving more than a quarter (11,695) of the fines.
But the NSW department of Roads and Maritime Services insists that the cameras are not about revenue raising.
“74 per cent of the NSW community support the use of cameras to enforce mobile phone offences. I strongly believe this technology will change driver behaviour and save lives,” said the minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, Melinda Pavey.
Both Western Australia and Victoria are also examining phone-detecting camera technology – though not necessarily the same tech adopted by NSW, which is developed by Australian start-up Acusensus.