Texting and driving: Every 30 seconds Sydney Harbour Bridge camera captures drivers on phones

CAUGHT red-handed — a new hi-tech camera has captured one driver every 30 seconds flagrantly breaking the law on the Sydney Harbour Bridge by using their mobile phone at the wheel.

The camera, which zooms in on drivers in passing traffic, was set up on a bridge approach by technology firm One Task as part of a joint investigation with The Daily Telegraph.

Focusing on three southbound lanes of the Bradfield Highway, it captured 743 drivers using their phones in one six-hour period from 8am to 2pm on December 12 — more than four per cent or one-in-25 of the 17,543 vehicles which passed by.

The startling results on one of Australia’s busiest roads show how motorists are widely ignoring the prohibition on hands-on mobile phone use, despite government safety advertising warning of the dangers and the availability of voice-activated technology in vehicles.

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It comes after a horror holiday period on NSW roads in which 29 people died between December 15 and January 2, almost double the figure for the same period a year earlier.

Centre for Road Safety executive director Bernard Carlon said speeding drivers using mobiles were becoming a deadly combination.

“An analysis by the Centre for Road Safety shows that having a mobile phone offence doubles a person’s risks of being killed or injured in a crash compared to someone with no history,” he said.

“It’s an even bigger problem than the stats show as we know that crashes involving phones are underreported due to the difficulty of obtaining evidence at crash scenes.”

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The camera was set up over Sydney Harbour Bridge to catch law-breakers.
NSW Police charged almost 39,000 people in 2016 for using their mobile phone while driving, which equates to about 106 a day.

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But One Task project manager Alex McCredie said cops were struggling to catch sneaky drivers.

“The police just can’t really catch these people and it’s through no fault of their own — they are just very hard to detect,” he said. Mr McCredie said his company’s camera captured video of passing traffic then used a computer to analyse the footage to identify guilty drivers.

“Although it is groundbreaking research, it really only confirms what everyone knows, which is that texting while driving is out of control and as a society we need the government to take action,” Mr McCredie said.

One Task is trialling the cameras in Victoria and has presented the survey results to NSW Roads Minister Melinda Pavey and road safety officials. The company is about to have talks with policy advisers from the office of federal Transport Minister Barnaby Joyce.

Mr Carlon, who attended the meeting, said the government would monitor new technology with the potential to improve road safety.

Last month Ms Pavey, in launching an ad campaign against texting drivers, warned official data on deaths could be the tip of the iceberg.

Originally Published here.