New Cameras Introduced into Victoria to Catch Mobile Phone Users

mobile phone camerasThis week it has been announced that a number of new cameras have been rolled out across Victoria to catch drivers who are on their mobile phones talking, texting, or being otherwise distracted. This includes putting on make up and not wearing your seat belt etc. The cameras are able to see inside the vehicle from a distance of up to 700 metres.

The evidence is overwhelming that these sorts of distractions do increase the risk of accidents and yet so many of us continue to break the law. The penalties were increased in November 2013, probably deliberately in advance of the roll out of the new detection technology.

The current penalties in Victoria for illegal use of a mobile phone or interacting with other units that have visual displays while driving (eg. DVD players or tablet computers) that are not driver’s aids are:

  • $433 fine 
  • 4 demerit points

Note: learner, P Plate 1 and P Plate 2 drivers are not permitted to use a hand-held or hands-free mobile phone while driving.

While this is the case in Victoria, it should be noted that it is illegal in all Australian states and territories to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving. This includes:

  • talking;
  • texting;
  • playing games;
  • taking photos/video; or
  • using any other function on your phone.

Using a hand-held mobile phone is also illegal when your vehicle is stationary, but not parked e.g. when you’re stopped at traffic lights.

Anything that reduces the road toll and unnecessary accidents has my vote and I look forward to seeing what impact the new cameras have on driver behaviour and more importantly, the accident rate.

With the Easter and ANZAC Day back to back, I thought it a timely reminder to stay safe on the roads at this peak accident period.

I conclude with some safe driving tips found on the VicRoads website while researching the current fines and penalties.

Safe driving tips and the mobile phone

  • Use Road Mode, an android app that prevents you from being distracted by your phone while you drive
  • Use voicemail
  • Pull over safely and park to make or receive a call
  • Plan breaks in your trip for phone calls
  • Tell your family and friends not to call when you know you’ll be driving
  • Tell callers you are driving and may have to end the call. (I believe you should not answer the call in the first place).
  • Don’t make calls in heavy traffic, poor road conditions or bad weather. (Again I believe you should not make calls while driving at all while driving, even stopped in heavy traffic or a red light).
  • Never look up phone numbers
  • Never read or send text messages.

A mobile phone can be important in an emergency. If you need to use your mobile phone to call for help, stop and park safely where you will not endanger other road users.

 

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