Nobody likes getting caught on camera, whether it’s for speeding or running a red light. These days though, there’s another type of camera to worry about – mobile phone detection cameras.
Mobile phone detection cameras take a photo of your car’s front seat, and then an AI system scans the image for mobile phone violations. If you commit an offence, you’ll get a mail notifying you of the violation and the corresponding fine.
Some people think that this new measure is an excellent idea, while others feel it's a violation of their privacy. Before taking sides, read this article to understand how these cameras work.
How Do Mobile Phone Detection Cameras Work?
At first thought, some people might assume that mobile phone detection cameras work the same way as older red-light cameras.
In case you’re not familiar with those, they’re the cameras that snap photos of people’s number plates when they’re driving through a red traffic light. Then, the authorities mail a fine directly to the car’s owner.
Those cameras have been in use worldwide for a very long time, and they act as a deterrent for running red lights.
Mobile phone detection cameras work differently, and you’ll see why.
How Cameras Detect Drivers Using Mobile Phones
Step 1: Mobile phone detection cameras take photos of all passing cars
These cameras use infra-red technology to take a photo of the front seat in each passing car. That’s right! They take pictures of all passing vehicles, not just specific ones that trigger the camera.
Step 2: Artificial intelligence (AI) scans for violations
The camera system uses AI to detect drivers using mobile phones while driving.
Step 3: A human reviews the photo from the AI
When the system detects mobile phone use in a photo, it'll forward it to a human reviewer for further action. The reviewer will confirm whether the driver used a mobile phone while driving.
Step 4: The system deletes photos of non-violators
Since mobile phone detection cameras take photos of all passing cars, there’s an issue about the privacy of drivers who have done nothing wrong.
Well, no worries. If the system fails to detect a violation, it immediately deletes the photos.
The mobile phone detection camera system was so effective that some places decided to expand its use. For example, New South Wales (NSW) recently tested its camera system’s ability to scan for seat belt offences as well.
Governments are quickly catching up. They now realise how powerful these cameras are when combined with AI, so it's not surprising if they'll look into other utilisation in the future.
What Do Mobile Phone Detection Cameras Look Like?
As we saw earlier, mobile phone detection cameras are not the same as the traditional red-light cameras. Instead, these cameras get a photo of your car’s front seat, which means that they must be at a high place and able to point at the correct angle.
The cameras themselves look like those you see attached to signboards or traffic lights, except for one noticeable feature. You'll likely find them near or next to a black box.
Remember: These cameras use infra-red light to see clearly inside your car, regardless of the weather or how dark it might be. They don’t use a conventional flash that’ll let you know you’ve been snapped but an invisible IR light instead.
So, if you’re wondering what mobile phone detection cameras look like in NSW, try looking up the next time you stop at a traffic light!
Are Mobile Phone Detection Cameras Effective?
Yes, these cameras are incredibly effective. They can capture mobile phone use in cars travelling up to 300 km/h, so don't think that you'll look like a blur in the photo if they catch you.
The infra-red technology that these cameras come with can cut through any kind of weather and low-light conditions to see into your car.
Another reason these cameras are so effective is that the authorities do not place warning signs on the road leading up to them. That means you’ll have no knowledge that these cameras are trained on you.
Not only that – since they don’t use conventional flash, you won’t even know when they’ve taken your photo.
Traditionally, other types of road cameras come with warning signs, giving you a chance to straighten up. Not these ones, though.
What Happens If A Mobile Phone Detection Camera Catches You?
The punishments will differ depending on what state you’re from. That’s because each Australian state manages their road laws separately.
However, you can expect punishments in the form of monetary fines and demerits sent to your mailing address if these cameras catch you using your phone while driving.
Where Are Mobile Phone Detection Cameras Located?
The mobile phone detection cameras’ locations in your state are not disclosed. However, eagle-eyed motorists eventually notice new cameras installed on their regular routes and waste no time to share camera locations on social media pages.
So if you want to know where mobile phone detection cameras are located in your state or city, jump to social media pages.
Aside from that, these cameras are pretty easy to spot once you know what to look for.
To detect any of these mobile phone detection cameras on your regular commute, look up at the traffic lights and signboards along the way.
If something looks like a camera pointed right at you, there's a good chance that it is a mobile phone detection camera.
Why Is It Bad to Use Phones While Driving?
Whether a camera catches you or not, using your phone while driving is a bad idea. It doesn’t matter how much of a multitasker you think you are; holding a phone to text or talk will distract you from your driving.
It reduces your ability to respond to any dangers on the road, and response time can mean the difference between life and death when it comes to driving. You very well know that.
You can learn more about the goings-on of the Australian automotive scene by checking the Blog at CarPart AU.
By Ray Hasbollah