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The Australian government is implementing new artificial intelligence (AI) cameras that will recognize the illegal use of mobile phones while driving. This is to prevent road accidents caused by mobile phone distraction.
Detection cameras that utilize AI have been set up across roads in New South Wales that will detect phone use. The fixed and transportable trailer-mounted cameras began working on the 1st of December to target drivers who are illegally using their phones. Previously a trial ran at the beginning of the year to assess the effectiveness of the project successfully identified 100,000 drivers illegally using their phones. During the first three months of the project, drivers will only receive a warning letter, but following this initiation period, drivers will face fines.
AI That Can Recognize Illegal Phone Use
Launched by New South Wales Transport, the cameras make up a detection network that is planned to be expanded to include a total of 45 AI-equipped cameras by 2023.
With the capability to function in all weather conditions, drivers will have nowhere to hide if they continue to choose to use their phones illegally. The cameras take photos of the front seat space within the vehicles and the programmed AI recognizes illegal phone use.
Those deemed to be images of illegal phone use are verified by authorized personnel, leading to the driver being contacted and issued with five penalty points and an A$344 fine, or in school zones, an A$457 fine. Any photos not deemed to show illegal phone use by the AI are rejected and deleted within the hour without being viewed.
Most Australian Drivers Are Using Their Phones While Driving
Studies have shown that in general, the Australian population is either unaware of or is dismissive of the dangers of using cell phones while driving. A recent Queensland study found that a quarter of drivers are continuing to use hand-held cell phones regularly whilst driving.
The study also found that 14% of Queensland drivers admit they also text while driving. Another recent study, conducted by the Australian government, found that most cell phone users in Australia, a huge 59%, regularly use their phones while driving, but only 28% of these people claim to use hands-free kits.
Given that, in Australia, distraction has been determined to be a contributing factor in more than a fifth of car accidents, almost three quarters (71%) of truck accidents, and nearly half (46%) of all near-crashes, the importance of removing the cell phone distraction is paramount. Cell phone distractions are unnecessary and avoidable. The new strategy that the Australian government has brought in will hopefully save the lives of many by reducing the use of cell phones while driving.
A Future Of Trauma-Free Transport
The Australian government has rolled out this project as part of their plans to create a trauma-free transport network by 2056. The camera system will likely play a key role in helping the country meet this target, with it hopefully reducing the number of traffic accidents caused by distraction.
The future is likely to see similar projects being established, with other regions around the country adopting this cutting edge technology. This will likely follow once data is collected from the New South Wales project, which is expected to show the implementation of the camera system linked with a decrease in traffic accidents. In New South Wales alone, since 2012 there have been 182 crashes that have involved a driver using a handheld cell phone. Of these accidents, 13 resulted in deaths and 243 in injuries. These figures demonstrate the potential lifesaving potential of the cameras.