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16 July, 2021

New cameras to monitor driving habits

Roadside cameras that can catch drivers using their phones behind the wheel or not wearing a seatbelt will be permanently rolled out on Queensland roads, including regional highways, from 26 July.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey warned drivers that the locations of the cameras will not be publicly revealed.

“Some of the cameras will be mobile, and we won’t be telling people where they are either,” Minister Bailey said.

“Drivers should expect to be caught anywhere, anytime, whether they’re driving in the city or on a regional highway.”

There will be a three month grace period for drivers, meaning those caught on camera using their phone between 26 July and 31 October this year will be notified and made aware they had been caught, but not fined.

From 1 November, any driver caught by the cameras can expect to receive a $1033 fine and lose four demerit points.

The cameras will also be able to detect drivers and their front seat passengers not wearing their seatbelts.

The current penalty for not wearing a seatbelt is $413 and three demerit points.

Mr Bailey said distracted driving was a silent killer on the state’s roads, likening it to drink driving.

“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.

“We successfully trialled these cameras last year, and have been talking about them coming to Queensland roads for two years,” Mr Bailey said.

Last year, 43 people who died in crashes in Queensland weren’t wearing a seatbelt, 14 more than in 2019 and 15 more than the previous five-year average.

Mr Bailey said the penalties 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.

“The numbers are shocking, particularly when you consider that for every life lost, another 27 people are treated in hospital,” he said.

Driver distraction contributes to almost 20 per cent of serious injuries and 12 per cent of all lives lost on Queensland roads.

RACQ spokesperson Renee Smith said RACQ welcomed the introduction of mobile phone and seatbelt detection cameras across Queensland to improve road safety.

“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.

“More detailed rules around mobile phone use by drivers, along with greater enforcement of the road rules through these first-of-a-kind cameras, will help to reduce driver distraction and improve road safety in Queensland.

“Sadly, we’re still seeing drivers refusing to wear a seatbelt.  Seatbelts save lives – it’s as simple as that.”

Ms Smith also warned new regulations were being proposed around the use of a mobile phone while driving in Queensland. 

“If these rules are passed later this month, it will be illegal for motorists to have a mobile phone on any part of their body while driving including on your lap or wedged between your body and the seatbelt – regardless of whether the phone is in use or not,” she said. 

“There’ll be some exceptions, for example, if you’re using your phone to pay for goods and services at a drive through while the vehicle is stationary, if you’re using your phone under police direction such as showing a border pass or if the phone is in your pocket.”

Two-thirds of Queenslanders admit to using their mobile phones illegally while driving.

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