LEGISLATION introduced into the ACT Legislative Assembly today (May 13) will allow for the rollout of mobile device detection cameras in Canberra by late 2021/early 2022.
Under the Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Amendment Bill 2021 the existing penalties will apply to a driver regardless of whether an offence is detected by a police officer or a camera.
This includes a maximum court fine of 20 penalty units or an infringement notice penalty of $480 and three demerit points for drivers who use their hand-held mobile device to make or receive a call.
The penalty for a driver who uses a mobile device for messaging, social networking, using a mobile app or accessing the internet is a maximum court fine of 20 penalty units or an infringement notice penalty of $589 and four demerit points.
Transport Minister Chris Steel said once the cameras have been rolled out (the exact date depends on procurement outcomes), there will be a three-month grace period.
During this time drivers that are captured by the new cameras will receive a letter advising they have been detected.
“The letter will provide a stern warning and educate them of the risks of using a mobile device while driving,” Mr Steel said.
“The risks of using a mobile device while driving are significant and undeniable.
“Research shows that drivers who text, browse or email on a mobile device while driving are 10 times more likely to crash. Driving while using your mobile device is as dangerous as drink driving, yet every day too many Canberrans put themselves and others at risk by doing it.”
In 2020, ACT police issued 1008 infringement notices and 190 cautions for mobile device use while driving. The actual incidence of this behaviour is believed to be far higher.
Mr Steel said key safeguards have been included in the bill to protect the privacy of Canberrans.
“Each photo taken by the cameras will be reviewed by artificial intelligence to identify whether a possible offence has been captured,” he said.
“If the system does not identify any offence, the photo will be rapidly deleted. This means people will never view the majority of images captured.
“Similarly, images of any front seat passengers in a vehicle will be blurred out when these are reviewed. The cameras do not capture and passengers in the rear of the vehicle.”