Australia Uses Artificial Intelligence to Curb, Prosecute Phone-Distracted Drivers

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In an attempt to reduce the number of Australian drivers who use their phones or any hand-held devices while operating a vehicle, New South Wales officials will be deploying artificial intelligence cameras to catch offenders in the act.

According to the Associated Press, the Aussie state plans to install a total of 45 “Mobile Phone Detection Cameras” across various main roads in New South Wales by December 2019. The detection system is composed of two different cameras, one of which will snap a photo of the car’s license plate.

While the tags are photographed, the second camera, which is described as a “high-set lens,” will peer into the car through the windshield in an effort to determine just what the driver’s hands are doing during the commute.

However, it should be noted that photos tagged as showing suspected illegal behavior will be forwarded to a reviewer, who will verify whether or not a crime is being committed. For those caught red-handed, a notice will be sent out to the vehicle’s registered owner, along with a $232 fine.

“There is no doubt drink-driving as far as I’m concerned is on a par with mobile phone use, and that’s why we want everyone to be aware that you’re going to get busted doing this anytime, anywhere,” New South Wales Roads Minister Andrew Constance told Australian Broadcasting Corp in a statement obtained by the AP.

Some camera units will be permanently fixed at various locations, while others will be placed on mobile trailers and occasionally relocated.

A six-month trial at two fixed-camera locations this year caught more than 100,000 drivers messing about with their cellphones. Additionally, officials found that one driver in particular was photographed while using a cellphone and an iPad at the same time, and that another driver even had their passenger steer the vehicle while holding two phones.

The brief trial was used to check some 8.5 million vehicles. The Drive reported that New South Wales plans to conduct 135 million annual checks by 2023.

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