Victoria has implemented a new mobile phone detection camera system in an effort to crack down on distracted driving. Through the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), the new cameras are capable of detecting when a driver is using their phone illegally while driving, even if the phone is in a holder or on a mount. Accompanying legislation will be introduced on 31 March 2023.
The implementation of the mobile phone detection cameras is part of a broader effort by the Victorian government via the Victorian Road Safety Strategy 2021-2030 to improve road safety and reduce the number of accidents caused by distracted driving. The use of mobile phones while driving has been identified as a major cause of accidents on Australian roads, and the government hopes that the new cameras will help to reduce the number of incidents. The updated law will also extend the current legislation past mobile phones and apply to other devices such as smartwatches, tablets, gaming consoles, and built-in entertainment systems in vehicles.
In addition to the new cameras, the Victorian government has also introduced stricter penalties for drivers caught using their phones illegally while driving. The penalties for using a mobile phone while driving will increase from four to five demerit points, and the fine for a first offence has increased to $496.
The new measures have been welcomed by road safety advocates, who believe that they will help to reduce the number of accidents caused by distracted driving. However, some drivers have raised concerns about the effectiveness of the new cameras and the potential for false positives. This legislation will also prove difficult to monitor in relation to electric vehicles, like Teslas, which heavily rely on an inbuilt tablet for driving.
Following its initial trial, it is likely that similar initiatives will be passed in other States such as New South Wales and Queensland to align with Australia’s broader Australian Road Rules.