They’re the high-definition cameras that can see right into your car and capture evidence of you using your mobile phone at the wheel.
9News can reveal almost 1,000 Sydney drivers per day are being snapped with their hands illegally on their phones by cameras installed on the M4 at Prospect and at Anzac Parade, Moore Park.
Shocking photographs taken during the first month of the NSW Government’s three-month mobile phone detection camera trial shed light on the extent of the problem of people using their phones while driving.
In one case, a male driver has a phone in each hand at the wheel and appears to be texting or actively using the touchscreen on one, while only the fingers of the other hand hang onto the wheel.
In another, a driver has both hands on his smartphone held close to his face, while his passenger leans over his lap and holds the steering wheel.
A woman has no hands on the steering wheel but both hands on her phone in yet another arresting image.
Days later, a truckie is detected with his forearms on the wheel and both hands on his phone, which is held upright as if Face Timing or texting.
The world-first technology, which is being watched closely by other jurisdictions both in Australia and overseas with a view to adopting it too if successful, was developed by Alex Jannink, whose friend James Rapley died in an accident caused by a driver distracted by a phone.
The cameras use artificial intelligence and an algorithm to detect drivers using phones at speeds of up to 300km/h and irrespective of light and weather conditions, with precision improving as more images are fed into the system. Photographs are automatically analysed.
On the first 25 days of the trial – undertaken during the summer holiday period starting from January 7, when it’s quieter on the city roads – there were 20,125 cases of drivers captured by the cameras illegally using a mobile phone.
During the first fortnight, there was a lower capture rate because the artificial intelligence system was partially trained. By the second half of the month, this had improved and more than 1,000 drivers a day were being captured at the two sites combined.
Mobile phone usage rates by drivers dropped by 16 per cent over the Australia Day long weekend because of double demerits, lower traffic volumes and less offending.
No fines will be issued during the three-month trial. If successful, it will be followed by a month of grace in which warning letters are issued but no fines are attached. After that, regular penalties of five demerits and a fine of $337 or $448 for school zones will come into force.
© Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2019