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Australian state installs AI-powered cameras to prevent phone use while driving

In New South Wales (NSW), Australia, where it is only legal to use mobile phones hands-free while driving, AI-powered cameras have been installed on the roads to ensure compliance by detecting drivers using a mobile phone behind the wheel.

At each location, two cameras are installed. One which is meant to capture people with their mobile phones to their ears and a second one to detect those who use it in their laps.

Every time a car drives through a designated location, it will be photographed using the AI powered camera where the AI itself will narrow down the potentially illegal behavior through pattern recognition. Also, people driving with both hands on the wheel will be immediately cleared.

If no mobile phone is detected within 2 days by the AI in the camera or a human checker, then the images will be passed on to a member of staff.

Executive Director of Transport for NSW’s Center for Road Safety, Bernard Carlon, has stated that a trail of these cameras was carried out earlier in the year and it caught 100,000 drivers using a phone illegally.

The plan for the first three months is that if drivers are caught using their phones illegally, they will receive a warning letter. Following this, the fine for this is $344 and could even go up to $457 if detected in a school zone and both of these scenarios will result in penalty points for the driver.

Currently, ten cameras have been deployed but they plan to install around thirty five more by 2023 in order to ensure the program will perform about 135 million vehicle checks in NSW per year.

“There is strong community support for more enforcement, with 80 percent of people surveyed supporting the use of detection cameras to stop illegal mobile phone use,” said Carlon.

He also added that the cameras “could prevent around 100 fatal and serious injury crashes over five years.”

However, a parliamentary committee has warned NSW that many legal cases could be raised against the department in reference to their use of cameras.