Australia Deploys AI Cameras to Catch Drivers on the PhoneGovernance
Many countries around the world have imposed driving safety laws with a particular focus on distracted driving penalties, mainly formulated for using handheld devices, such as mobile phones while driving.
But it has proven almost impossible for cameras that are usually fixed on traffic signals, speeding radars, or police patrol cars to determine whether the driver is just looking down or in fact, texting and breaking the law.
To solve this particular problem, Australia leveraged artificial intelligence (AI) to catch drivers that are illegally using their phones. In a world-first, the state of New South Wales is using AI-powered cameras to catch motorists using their phones.
The safety technology will target illegal mobile phone use by drivers through fixed and mobile trailer-mounted cameras. The captured images will be reviewed by machine learning algorithms that are trained to identify phones. When an image is likely showing someone breaking the law, it will be reviewed by a human to determine the penalty.
The mobile phone detection cameras were introduced for a trial in September; two permanent cameras detected a total 8.5 million passing cars—more than 100,000 of which were driven by someone illegally using their phone, according to geek.com.
For the first three months, law-breaking drivers will only get warnings, to help the people get used to the more aggressive enforcement, according to NSW officials. After the grace period ends, drivers will get a $344 AUD ($233 US) fine and 5 points on their licenses.
The program will progressively expand to install 45 cameras that will perform an estimated 135 million vehicle checks on NSW roads each year by 2023.
Australian public safety officials believe this system could reduce driving deaths by 30 percent by 2021. Executive Director of Transport for NSW’s Centre for Road Safety Bernard Carlon said, “Independent modeling showed that this could prevent 100 fatal and serious injury crashes in the space of five years. Whether or not this happens in practice, it could certainly serve as a deterrent; you may be less likely to text friends while on the road if you know that a camera might record it.”