New technology set to detect mobile use in vehicles
New rules passed by the NSW Parliament on Wednesday would see the introduction of speed-camera-style technology to detect and crack down on illegal mobile phone use by motorists.
“What other choice does the government have?” Mr Irvine said.
“It’s sad that we need it, but drivers have had plenty of chances to stop using phones and being distracted behind the wheel.”
Mr Irvine said there’ll be no excuses for motorists who are caught using their phones under the new technology.
“It relies on overhead gantries, so they’ll be fairly obvious,” he said.
“The trial was done on the Harbour Bridge and cameras were mounted up in the infrastructure above the roadway.
“They’re very high resolution cameras and they can peer right into the cabin of the car.
“It’s similar to what police in Western Australia have been doing. They’ve been using exceptionally high-powered telescopic lenses to pick up on drivers using their mobile phones and then flagging them down and giving them a ticket.”
The Western Australian system is manually operated, however, the NSW system is set to be automatically operated.
Mr Irvine said it’s a sad state of affairs that police need to go to these lengths to monitor people.
“At the end of the day, it’s an inevitable step in the right direction,” he said.
“It’s saving people from themselves.
“Smartphones are invasive. They are incredibly intrusive. As a society, we’ve been incredibly addicted to them.
“If drivers don’t have the self-control not to engage with their phone when driving, governments are going to have to react to that.”
There’s no doubt, according to Mr Irvine, that the increase in the road toll is due to distractions in the car, with mobile phones being the main culprit.
“We had a really great year in 2014, in terms of low rates of death and injury, but we’ve been creeping up since,” he said.
“That can only be put down to distractions and driver behaviour. It’s not an environmental issue, it’s not a road network issue, it’s a driver issue.”
Mr Irvine hopes the introduction of the new technology will see a culture shift for mobile phone use in the car similar to the culture shift over decades for drink-driving – from an attitude that a driver was unlucky to be caught to an attitude that it shouldn’t be done in the first place.