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Wed, 05/16/2018 - 11:01 -- sdukbewiser

Eyes on the road: Big brother cameras aim to stop distracted motorists from texting, unwrapping burgers or fixing their makeup whilst driving

Wed, 16/05/2018
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Eyes on the road: Big brother cameras aim to stop distracted motorists from texting, unwrapping burgers or fixing their makeup whilst driving

A new law will allow cameras to catch motorists using their phones while driving, catching them driving at speed for up to 50 meters. They will also watch to see if drivers are distracted whilst eating food or putting on make up in a bid to make UK roads safer.

Cait Kelly, The Daily Mail, reports:

Big Brother will soon be scanning traffic for distracted motorists in a radical attempt to curb the rates of people using their phones while driving.

A new state law, which will come into effect in New South Wales on July 1, will allow cameras to catch people using their mobile phones while driving.

The State Government is currently asking companies to tender for the contract bid to roll out the new cameras, news.com.au reported.

Roads Minister Melinda Pavey has suggested the existing camera network, including toll cameras, could be used to catch drivers.

But one of the major companies bidding for the tender, One Task, says the current ones are not up to the job.

Project manager for One task, Alex McCredie, said more sophisticated cameras will be needed to catch motorists.

At the moment the scale of the problem suggests that no-one really seems to be worried about getting caught. If there's going to be any sort of behavioural change there has to be some sort of fear of being caught,' he said.

'We want a situation where people don't know where they are.'

One Task said it could provide advanced cameras that can track drivers while they're driving at speed.

The system works by ruling out motorists who have both hands on the wheel and nothing on their laps first, which reduces the amount of people needed to process the infringements. 

The camera focuses on looking for phones and can track drivers for 50 metres at a time. 

Once the computer identifies a person is on the phone, the footage is reviewed manually for confirmation.

'If anyone does receive a ticket they can have confidence it has been checked by a human,' he says.

Mr McCredie said that in past trials drivers were caught watching their phones for the whole time.

Phone distraction has emerged as an increasing trend in serious or fatal car crashes and governments are scrambling to address the issue.

Jakob Thornton, 22, allegedly told police he had been looking at his phone for 20 seconds when his vehicle ploughed into two police officers earlier this year.

Between 2012 and 2018 there were 184 drivers or motorbike riders involved in crashes where mobile phone use was a factor.

Those crashes resulted in 7 deaths and 105 injuries. 

In a trial on Sydney's Harbour Bridge ,the system caught 750 drivers in just six hours.

Currently, police fine fewer than 100 people a week.

The technology has the ability to pick up other dangerous behaviour such as unwrapping a McDonald's burger or putting on makeup, Mr McCredie said.

While drivers can't be given a specific infringement notice for those things they could be fined for not paying due care or not having proper control of the car.

It is unlikely the tender process will be completed by July 1 when the law comes into place, but McCredie said their program was ready to be rolled out.

Taking extra measures to ensure the safety of road users should be a top priority, but could filming people unknowingly spark debate?

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