Cameras nab drivers using phones

Drivers caught using mobile phones behind the wheel during a three month trial of new road safety cameras. (Supplied) 234466_01

Goya Dmytryshchak

Drivers in Wollert, Hillside and Laverton were the state’s worst offenders for using mobile phones behind the wheel during a three month trial of new road safety cameras.

The trial photographed 679,438 vehicles and found one in 42 drivers were illegally using their mobile phone while driving.

Using two portable cameras across a number of metropolitan and regional locations, the trial found the highest

rates of mobile phone use at:

• Craigieburn Road East in Wollert, with a one-in-18 offence rate;

• Calder Park Drive in Hillside, with a one-in-21 offence rate;

• Old Geelong Road in Laverton, with a one-in-28 offence rate

The trial was conducted during COVID-19 stage four restrictions, indicating the rate of offending could be much higher when movement isn’t restricted.

Fines weren’t issued during the trial.

The penalty for illegal use of a mobile phone while driving is $496 and four demerit points.

The distracted driving technology also detected drivers not wearing a seatbelt, with a one-in-667 offence rate statewide.

Other dangerous behaviours, such as driving with no hands on the wheel or pets on laps were also detected.

Acting Police and Emergency Services Minister Danny Pearson said the distracted driving technology used an artificial intelligence-enabled camera system to capture high-resolution images of passing vehicles in all traffic and weather conditions, day and night.

“Using your phone while driving is unbelievably dangerous, and this trial has showed just how common it is on Victorian roads,” he said.

“It’s unacceptable that so many Victorians are putting others’ lives at risk, which is why we’re investing $33 million to install this new distracted driver technology, which can save up to 95 lives every year.

“It’s up to all of us to do the right thing and put our phones away while driving to help keep our roads safe.”