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‘World first’ cell phone detection cameras rolled out in Australia

Andrew Constance, New South Wales’ minister for roads, said the “world-first” technology would target illegal cell phone use through “fixed and mobile trailer-mounted cameras.”

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The cameras will use artificial intelligence to review images and detect illegal use of cell phones, according to Transport for NSW.

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Images identified as being likely to contain a driver illegally using a call phone will then be verified by authorized personnel, authorities said, noting that images captured by the system would be “securely stored and managed.”

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Over the next three years, 45 portable cameras will be set up across the state, in unknown locations, and without warning signs, CNN affiliate Sky News Australia reported.

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For the first three months, drivers caught out by the technology will receive a warning letter, Transport for New South Wales said in a statement, after which offenders will face a fine of up to $344, or $457 in a school zone, and penalty points on their drivers license.

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“The NSW Government is serious about reducing our state’s road toll and rolling out mobile phone detection cameras is another way we will do this,” Constance said in a statement.

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Officials said that a trial of the technology earlier in the year had caught more than 100,000 drivers illegally using a phone at the wheel.

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Some 329 people have died this year on New South Wales’ roads, Reuters news agency reported, compared with 354 people for all of 2018, according to official statistics.

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The state wants to cut the number of road fatalities by 30% by 2021, Reuters said.

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Making and receiving phone calls while driving is legal in New South Wales, but using hands-free technology. Other functions, including using social media, video calling, photography, playing audio while driving are only legal if a driver has parked their vehicle outside of traffic.

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