In an ambitious initiative valued at $15.9 million, the first mobile phone detection cameras will be deployed along cardinal metropolitan passageways throughout the South Australian district in an effort to alleviate road calamities linked to driver inattention.
After a triumphant foretrial with the new technology, officials have marked five integral locations across Adelaide for the forthcoming installation of these state-of-the-art mobile phone detection cameras (MPDC). Sites at the South Road in Torrensville, North South Motorway at Regency Park, Port Road of Hindmarsh, Port Wakefield Road at Gepps Cross and Southern Expressway in Darlington await final environmental and technical evaluations before the cameras are installed on existing digital signs and activated by June 2024.
The MPDCs will be incorporated as part of a larger three-month educational campaign, from June to September 2024, where no financial penalties or demerit points will be assessed. Beyond this period, the South Australian Police will be issuing fines of $540, three demerit points, as well as an additional $99 victims of crime levy for drivers found unlawfully using their mobile phones while operating a vehicle.
Proceeds from these fines will be utilised to fortify the Community Road Safety Fund, facilitating the delivery of indispensable road safety measures across South Australia. This includes important safety upgrades, educational programmes and impactful public advertising campaigns.
The earmarked locations for the cameras were decided upon in accordance with research conducted by the Centre for Automotive Safety Research at the University of Adelaide. The research factored in crash trends and targeted packed road corridors within diverse regions of Adelaide. The goal was to tackle a pervasive issue, as inattention continues contributing to half of all lives lost and above a third of serious injuries on South Australian roads.
The government of South Australia recently announced a combined road safety funding of $168 million with the Commonwealth Government, as well as an additional $98 million as part of the 2023-24 State Budget. This leads to an expenditure of over a quarter of a billion dollars in the next five years to bolster road safety in South Australia.
Joe Szakacs expressed, "With a devasting number of lives lost in 2023, these cameras serve as another crucial tool to address driver distraction. We're out to change behaviour and help drivers realise that there is no safe level of mobile use while driving."
"Unfortunately, mobile phone use while driving has become increasingly common," bemoaned Ian Parrot, SAPOL Assistant Commissioner State Operations Service. "The introduction of Mobile Phone Detection Cameras will enhance South Australia Police's enforcement capabilities to detect people 24/7 in more locations, and we hope this will ultimately contribute to changing driver behaviour."
Darren Davis, Get Home Safe Foundation President, remarked that these cameras will undoubtedly serve to reduce deaths and injuries due to distraction, but also stressed on the role of societal norms in enforcing safer driving habits. He insisted individuals to oppose mobile device usage whilst driving, highlighting the devastation faced by families who lose their loved ones in such avoidable incidents.