High-tech cameras being trialled by Queensland’s Transport Department have picked up almost 1,000 Queenslanders drivers or their passengers without a seatbelt, a result described as “alarming”.
The figures come one month into an Australian-first seatbelt detection trial being run alongside a mobile phone detection trial on Queensland roads.
The joint trial — which began in late July for mobile phone detection and last month for seatbelt detection — uses both fixed and portable cameras in secret locations.
Transport and Main Roads has identified more than 3,600 potential mobile phone offences and 989 potential seat belt offences.
Transport and Main Roads senior manager Andrew Mahon said these were “significant” numbers of potential offences.
“We’re still trialling, it’s early days, but alarmingly we’re seeing 60 infringements a day for mobile phone offences and about 40 a day from not wearing a seatbelt,” he said.
“In this day and age it is alarming that people continue to drive without wearing their seatbelt.
“It is surprising to see the numbers that we’re seeing. We want people to change their behaviour and drive safely behind the wheel and focus on driving.”
Last year, 219 people died on Queensland roads — 27 of those people were not wearing a seatbelt.
How do the cameras work?
The cameras take several photos of the inside of the front of the cabin, including the vehicle’s registration plates, at high speeds.
The images are then put through an algorithm that looks for indicators to identify whether the driver is holding a mobile phone or if the driver or their passenger is not wearing a seatbelt.
An authorised officer then verifies an offence has been committed.
Although fines are not being issued over the duration of the trial, which lasts until Christmas, it is likely the technology will became available for police to issue fines from early next year.
Tough penalties for distracted driving were introduced in February this year — a $1,000 fine and the loss of four demerit points.
Lauren Ritchie from the RACQ said the cameras would be a useful tool in enforcing those penalties.
“We have the toughest laws in the country when it comes to mobile phone use,” she said.
“But without the proper enforcement capabilities then it’s only going to work so far in terms of changing behaviour.”
“We’d like to see this trial deemed successful.
“Obviously the numbers here are startling and they’re proof that we do need to roll this technology out.
“It should be a wake up call to us as drivers that you are being watched and you will be caught any time, anywhere.”