Category Archives: TRACKING

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

THIS POLICE SERVICE IS TRIALLING A SYSTEM WHERE YOUR REGO PLATE POSITION NUMBER IS TRACKED IN REAL TIME

POLICE will use GPS technology to capture the location of more than a million vehicles on Queensland roads at any one time – and will use it to charge criminals.

The geographic location of about 25,000 registration number plates are being stored by police each week under a trial that has alarmed civil libertarians.

The move is part of the broadened Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) trial, which uses global position systems and cameras fitted in police vehicles.

It means that if a motorist drives past a police car, their position is recorded. It will be stored for a year and one day. The trial will end in June 2014.

The location of about 25,000 registration number plates are being stored each week

READ MORE: Police use go card information for tracking

Transport Minister Scott Emerson said he believed most drivers would be comfortable with police using their number plates to track them and contact them if it means they can help solve a crime.

“The reality is that most people are very keen to help out where they can in terms of crimes,” Mr Emerson said.

“We are talking here about using that information to look for witnesses to crimes.

“Not many people would be concerned about them being contacted using their information to help deal with a crime when they occur.”

While police are using the information to bust unregistered vehicles, sources admit it could also be used to determine who was nearby when certain crimes were committed.

“If a request is made by a police officer for a search of the ANPR database to be conducted and the request is substantiated and approved by a commissioned officer as supporting an investigation or prosecution of a criminal offence, the recorded ANPR information can be lawfully used by the QPS,” police said in a statement to The Courier-Mail.

“The Queensland Police Service has strict accountability measures in place to govern the use of automatic numberplate recognition technology for broader law enforcement.”

Last week The Courier-Mail revealed police were tracing the everyday movements of thousands of Queenslanders by routinely accessing detailed phone records.

Even the mobile phone records of their own officers were being pulled, to determine if they had thrown sickies, had sex with police cadets at the academies or where they were if their boss was suspicious about their location on duty.

YOUR SAY: Should police use number plates to track people? Comment below

Queensland Council for Civil Liberties president Andrew Sinclair said the trial and what could be done with the information was concerning.

Mr Sinclair said the trial involved the collection of personal information, which violated the right to privacy and the principles embodied in the Privacy Act.

He said history showed that when a data collection device was created it was not long before it was turned to other purposes.

“At least there is an act governing the telcos (when police ask for some information) but there’s nothing governing how they collect and use the number plates,” Mr Sinclair said.

“And I’ll bet it ends up getting used for all sorts of things. Whether an officer’s wife is found in a part of town she’s not expected to be, was so and so really having a sickie etc.”

Queensland’s acting Privacy Commissioner Lemm Ex said his office had been apprised of the potential use of APNRs in Queensland.

“Number plates are not in themselves personal information. They become personal information if a link can be made between the number and the owner of the registered vehicle,” Mr Ex said. “Accordingly, the significant factor is not the capture of number plates but rather their recognition – the linking with an individual.

“If that linking is conducted for a law enforcement activities, no privacy issues arise with it.

“There is no provision in the Information Privacy Act for agencies to dispose of personal information when they no longer have a use for it, and only a limited obligation to de-identify health information.”

QPS has trialled the technology previously.