Mobile phone and seatbelt detection cameras are now operational across Queensland in a bid to deter unsafe driving and save lives. From 1 November any driver caught by the cameras can expect to receive a $1033 fine and the loss of four demerit points. Besides being able to catch drivers using their phones behind the wheel, the cameras will also detect drivers and their front seat passengers not wearing their seatbelts.
A three-month grace period applies until 31 October this year, during which drivers caught on camera using their phone would be notified they had been caught, but not fined.
With the number of lives lost on Queensland roads continuing to cause concern among authorities, the new cameras are a key part of the State Government’s record $1.69 billion road safety plan.
“Some of the cameras will be mobile, and we won’t be telling people where they are either. Drivers should expect to be caught anywhere, anytime, whether they’re driving in the city or on a regional highway,” said Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey, adding that distracted driving was a silent killer on the state’s roads.
“Our message has always been direct and very simple: just put your phone away. Using a mobile phone while driving has the same impact as getting behind the wheel with a blood alcohol reading between 0.07 and 0.10," Mr Bailey said. He acknowledged the penalties were tough, but said they were necessary to stamp out driver distraction.
“So far in 2021, 136 people have died on Queensland roads – 12 more than at the same time last year,” he said.
RACQ spokesperson Renee Smith said the Club welcomed the measures.
“We know on average around 29 people are killed and more than a thousand others are seriously injured every year on Queensland roads as a result of crashes where driver distraction played a part,” Ms Smith said.
“Sadly, we’re still seeing drivers refusing to wear a seatbelt - a risk that can’t afford to be taken, as it’s often the difference between life and death in a crash.
“Given the shocking number of people killed on our roads so far this year, we hope these new measures will help deter unsafe driving and save lives.”
Distracted driving is not the only deadly driving behaviour set to be targeted this year, starting from September with the most substantial reforms to drink driving since random breath testing was introduced.