Category Archives: MOBILE PHONES

Hi-tech cameras to snag drivers using their mobiles AUSTRALIA

DISTRACTION is one of the leading causes of fatal road crashes in Australia but new hi-tech detection cameras that catch drivers using their mobile phones without them even knowing could soon change everything.

A New South Wales Police spokesman told news.com.au that officers currently “use a variety of methods to detect drivers using their phones while driving”.

“Line-of-site, by trained officers is the primary method of detection, however, long-ranged cameras have been used with success, and helmet cameras in motorcycle police continue to be used,” the spokesman said.

But that technology could soon be replaced by fixed position cameras that automatically issue an infringement notice without the driver even realising they’ve been sprung.

NSW Police Highway Patrol boss, Assistant Commissioner Mick Corboy, told the Nine News there were “emerging technologies coming out”.

“So the way we are going to defeat this is by video evidence, by photographic evidence and we are looking at everything possible around the world at the moment and we think we’ll get something in place fairly quickly,” Mr Corboy said.

His comments came after NSW Minister for Roads Melinda Pavey put out a call on Tuesday for potential providers to present “practical, technology-based solutions to address the problem” of mobile phone use in cars.

“Developing this technology would be a world-first and is one of the priorities of our Road Safety Plan 2021 that we announced,” Mrs Pavey said.

As part of the Road Safety Plan 2021, the NSW Government outlined its plans to implement legislative changes to allow camera technology to enforce mobile phone use offences.

Mrs Pavey said the Road Transport Legislation Amendment (Road Safety) Bill 2018 was introduced into the NSW Legislative Assembly on March 6, 2018. NSW is the first jurisdiction to introduce such legislation in Australia.

Last year, NSW Police handed out about 42,000 fines to drivers caught on their mobile phones, with the distraction increasingly emerging as a factor in fatal crashes over the past decade.

In February this year, serial texter Jakob Thornton, was allegedly engrossed in his phone when he ploughed into a roadside breath test in southwest Sydney, seriously injuring two officers.

Senior Constable Jonathon Wright had his foot and part of his lower leg amputated and Senior Constable Matthew Foley suffered a broken leg.

Alex McCredie demonstrates how the hi-tech cameras that can detect drivers using mobile phones work. Picture: Mark Stewart.

According to National Road Safety Partnership Program (NRSPP) Manager Jerome Carslake, the most common causes of road fatalities and car accidents occasioning serious harm are fatigue, speed, distraction (including mobile phones), and alcohol or drugs.

During the 12 months ending in February 2018, there were 1249 road deaths across Australia. That was a 0.2 per cent decrease compared to the total for the 12-month period ending February 2017.

In 2016, 1300 lives were lost on roads nationwide, which was an increase of nearly 8 per cent on the previous year (1205).

Mr Corboy said in a statement earlier this month that too many people made “poor decisions” while driving. “Every fatal crash is a tragedy for not only those involved, but for the families they leave behind,” he said.

“The most frustrating part about it is that most crashes are preventable if people slow down and take responsibility on our roads.”

In NSW, motorists caught using a mobile phone while driving can be slapped with a $330 fine and a loss of four demerit points, regardless of whether they’re repeat offenders or not.

The Australian Capital Territory has some of the toughest laws in the country, with a fine of $528 and loss of four demerit points for a driver caught texting or using social media behind the wheel.

Like the ACT, Western Australia also has a separate specific offence for motorists caught texting while driving. “WA Police Force is constantly looking for new ways to target offences frequently linked to serious and fatal crashes on our roads, including inattention through mobile phone use,” a WA Police spokesman told news.com.au.

“The penalty for using a mobile phone while driving is $400 and three demerit points.”

This driver was booked by Acting Sargeant Paul Stanford for using a mobile phone while driving in Brisbane City and copped a $378 fine. Picture: Jamie Hanson.

In Queensland, motorists can be fined $378 and have three demerit points recorded against their traffic history if they are caught holding a mobile phone for any reason while driving – that includes when they’re stopped at traffic lights or in congested traffic.

Learner and P1 drivers are prohibited from using hands free, wireless headsets or a mobile phone’s loudspeaker function. “At this time the QPS does not have technology to detect drivers using mobile phones,” a QLD Police spokesman told news.com.au.

Double demerit points apply for second or subsequent mobile phone offences committed within one year after an earlier offence.

A hi-tech camera which can detect people using their mobile phones while driving was trialled in Melbourne last year. Picture: Mark Stewart.

A red-light style camera capable of photographing drivers illegally using their mobile phones was trialled in Melbourne, Victoria last year. The technology – touted as a world first – detected 272 culprits during a five-hour test across just one lane of the Eastern Freeway, the Herald Sun reported.

The trial revealed that 7.1 per cent of the drivers observed infringed phone use laws. And 65.8 per cent of those offences related to motorists actively using their phone by holding it or touching it in a cradle. Authorities said in December last year that they were always looking at ways to improve road safety but had no current plans to introduce the technology.

This driver was booked for using his mobile phone whilst driving in Brisbane. Picture: Jamie Hanson.

A South Australia Police spokesman told news.com.au the state “doesn’t yet have any technologies to assist in the detection of driving while using mobile phones”.

As of November 11, 2017, the fine for using a mobile phone while driving was $327 plus a $60 government levy – totalling $387 coupled with three demerit points. Drivers are permitted to touch their phones only if they are making or receiving a call on a device mounted to the vehicle.

“To avoid doubt, nothing … authorises a person to use a mobile phone by pressing a key on the device, or by otherwise manipulating the body or screen of the phone, if the phone is not secured in a mounting affixed to the vehicle,” the legislation reads.

The SA Police spokesman said it was “lawful to pull over to the side of the road to a place where it is legal to stop and make or receive a telephone call”.

“There is no requirement to turn off the engine,” he said. “Although the rule that relates to mobile telephones does not say that the vehicle must be in an area where it is legal to park, other Australian Road Rules come into play.

“To put that into perspective, it is not legal to park at a set of traffic lights, therefore it is unlawful to use a hand held phone while stationary at those lights.”

Acting Sargeant Paul Stanford speaks to a motorist in Brisbane City.

Henry Sapiecha

POLICE & LAWS RE PARENTING WITH MOBILE PHONES IN DOUBT

Ronald Jackson has been found not guilty of property theft after confiscating a phone from his teenage daughter and refusing to return it image www.policesearch.net

Ronald Jackson has been found not guilty of property theft after confiscating a phone from his teenage daughter and refusing to return it. Photo: CBS-DFW

She was 12 and, her mother said, she was not fitting in with her father’s new family. She grabbed her camouflage-patterned iPhone 4s and shot a text to a friend – roughly: “I don’t like his ratchet girlfriend or her kids.”

It was 2013. That word – “ratchet” –  was running through rap songs and teens’ text messages, thought to mean a low-class and clueless diva. When Ronald Jackson saw it, he took away his daughter’s cellphone.

“I was being a parent,” Mr Jackson told broadcaster CBS-DFW. “A child does something wrong, you teach them what’s right.”

Mr Jackson, 36, from Dallas, Texas, was ultimately arrested and charged with property theft, because he had taken his daughter’s iPhone and refused to give it back.
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Following a long legal battle, a Dallas County Criminal Court judge last week ruled the state did not have enough evidence to continue the case and ordered a jury to find him not guilty.

It was Mr Jackson’s visitation time that Saturday in late September 2013. He and his former partner, Michelle Steppe, were no longer a couple but shared custody of their daughter. Both had started new families.
The mobile phone at the centre of the court case.

The mobile phone at the centre of the court case. Photo: CBS-DFW

Ms Steppe, 40, and her fiance bought the phone for her daughter, but it was on Mr Jackson’s mobile data plan.

After Mr Jackson confiscated the mobile phone, the girl went to a friend’s house and called her mother. Police were sent to Mr Jackson’s home and tried to get it back, according to television station WFAA.

“At that point,” Mr Jackson said, “I decided the police don’t interfere with my ability to parent my daughter.”

Ms Steppe said she respected Mr Jackson’s parenting moment, but he should have given her the phone.

“I stand behind him taking the phone for punishment; I don’t stand behind him not returning the phone to me when the visit was over,” Ms Steppe told The Post. “Parents have the right to discipline their kids. I’ve taken away phone privileges.

“It had to do with giving back property that did not belong to him.”

When Ms Steppe collected her daughter, she demanded the phone, according to court documents. When Mr Jackson declined to hand it over, Ms Steppe sent him a demand letter.

Months went by. Then, Mr Jackson was mailed a citation for petty theft, a Class C misdemeanour.

Court documents show the city attorney’s office offered him a plea deal in exchange for the phone, according to WFAA. But Mr Jackson got a lawyer and opted for a trial in municipal court, according to the news station.

Court documents state the case was first filed with the city court, but that “due to the lack of co-operation by the defendant”, the prosecutor in the case asked that police file it as a harsher Class B misdemeanour in a county court.

Late one night in April 2015, Mr Jackson was woken by police, placed in handcuffs and taken to jail.

“Why would you arrest someone for something like that?” he told CBS-DFW. “Don’t you have better things to do as a police officer? Aren’t there bigger crimes in the city that you need to take care of?”

Grand Prairie police spokesman Lyle Gensler said police tried to get Mr Jackson to return his daughter’s phone.

“We do not like these kinds of instances to go into the criminal justice system,” he told WFAA. “We prefer to keep it out and the phone be returned and let the parents, the two adults, let them work it out among themselves.”

One concern Mr Jackson had was that Ms Steppe’s fiance is an officer on the police force.

“In the entire investigation, that never came into play,” Mr Gensler said.

Ms Steppe said the relationship between her daughter, now 15, and the girl’s father was ruined.

“She wrote him a letter and knocked on the door and handed it to him,” Ms Steppe said.

“In the letter, she listed the Webster’s definition of a father and said, ‘You have never been any of these things to me.’ She asked him to relinquish his parental rights so she could be adopted by her stepdad.”

Ms Steppe said Mr Jackson had asked to relinquish his rights and that case was pending.

During Mr Jackson’s two-day trial last week, his daughter took the stand.

“She’s heartbroken, she’s devastated,” Ms Steppe said.

“Don’t smear her. Don’t make her look like a sexting teen, an out-of-control teen. Don’t mess with her life.”

Mr Jackson’s attorney, Cameron Gray, said he was planning to file a federal civil rights claim against the Grand Prairie Police Department and the city attorney’s office over the way Mr Jackson was treated.

Washington Post

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Henry Sapiecha