The world’s first roadside camera that catches drivers using their mobile phone has arrived in Australia. The. New technology is being trialled in New South Wales and safety campaigners want the UK to follow the Aussies by adopting the system for our roads.
The technology is known as the One Task system, and it’s designed to catch drivers not only talking on the phone but texting or taking photos too. During its first trial run in Sydney, it caught over 400 drivers committing a range of offences, including taking ‘selfies’. Melinda Pavey, NSW Minister for Roads described the introduction to be potentially as “revolutionary” as the breathalyser.
Mobile phone use by drivers is a big issue in the UK too, and with the advancement of phone technology, the temptation to look away from the road has become even stronger for many drivers. But what exactly denotes ‘illegal phone use?’
What’s legal and what’s not.
- Hands-free kits These are legal providing you are not distracted.
- Using phone while stationary If your engine is running and you are in control of the vehicle, handheld use of your phone is illegal.
- Using a phone with engine off Providing you are parked safely and legally, it is legal to use your phone.
- Declining a call While the notion of cancelling an incoming call might seem the right approach, any physical interaction with your phone is illegal while driving.
- Changing a song As above, physical use of the phone while driving is illegal
- Using voice commands As long as you do not touch the phone and can activate it by voice only, this is legally permitted.
- Using a sat-nav app Legal, proving you have programmed it before you start driving and do not touch the phone until you are safely parked with the engine off.
Last year in the UK, the fine for using a mobile phone while in control of a vehicle was doubled to £200, with the number of penalty points also raised to six. However, this has apparently failed to deter many people from breaking the law. The tougher sanctions may have seen number of fixed penalty notices issued fall from 49,694 in 2016 to 30,470 in 2017, but more needs to be done according to Rod Dennis, campaign spokesman for the RAC’s ‘Be Phone Smart’: “One of the real challenges in clamping down on this dangerous behaviour is making drivers believe they will be caught – and given the increasing prevalence of mobile phones, it is very much a global problem”, he said.
Police forces across the UK have been introducing unmarked HGVs to their fleets in order to catch drivers distracted not only by phones but a range of other unusual things, including one driver brushing his teeth while driving a lorry. Click here to read our article about Operation Tramline.