Road safety: NSW says mobile phone detection program a ‘world first’

Technology from Melbourne-based Acusensus to detect illegal phone use in vehicles

One of the images captured during the pilot.

One of the images captured during the pilot.

Credit: NSW government.

A New South Wales mobile phone detection camera program will be a world first, according to the state government.

The rollout of the program follows a pilot based on technology provided by Acusensus. During the six-month period, the system checked 8.5 million vehicles and captured more than 100,000 drivers illegally using their handsets.

“There is strong community support for more enforcement to stop illegal mobile phone use with 80 per cent of people we surveyed supporting use of the mobile phone detection cameras,” said transport minister Andrew Constance.

The first three months of the program will see warnings issued to drivers. After that drivers will face fines of $344 and five demerit points.

Melbourne-based Acusensus says its automated recognition system minimizes false positives. The company supports both fixed position cameras and mobile cameras that can be mounted on a trailer or vehicle.

The captured data is encrypted, with human reviewers shown images only of a driver, not passengers or the licence plates of a vehicle. The company says that, if requested, it can also blur out everything in an image except for the driver.

The system is designed to capture “95% of all illegal mobile phone offences,” an FAQ document produced by Acusensus says. It can also be used to detect speed offences, unregistered vehicles (ANPR) and seatbelt use.

Acusensus was founded in 2018 and has been received support from the University of Melbourne’s Accelerator Program.

“We are committed to supporting the NSW government's pioneering initiative to reduce the significant loss and trauma caused by illegal phone use on the road network,” the company’s managing director, Alexander Jannink, said in a statement.

“We know from the success of the pilot and other enforcement technology programs that the deployment of the Acusensus Heads-Up solution will drive behavioural change and improve the safety of road users.”

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Tags TransportNSW GovernmentNew South Wales (NSW)

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