New fixed and portable cameras to detect drivers using mobile phones illegally, and failure to wear a seatbelt have been introduced by the Queensland Government.
The cameras aim to encourage drivers to put their phones away and ensure that they and their passengers are wearing seatbelts.
Using mobile phones illegally and failing to wear a seatbelt contribute significantly to the number of lives lost and serious injuries on Queensland roads each year.
In 2020, 43 people who lost their lives on Queensland roads were not wearing a seatbelt, and a further 187 unrestrained vehicle occupants were hospitalised because of crashes. Last year also saw 23 lives lost, where driver distraction was a contributing factor, and 1,463 people hospitalised because of crashes involving driver distraction and inattention.
Initially, there will be a three-month warning period when motorists caught committing mobile phone or seatbelt offences on camera will not be issued penalties. Instead, registered operators will receive a warning letter encouraging them to change their behaviour.
During this period, police will continue roadside enforcement, with the usual penalties applying.
The road rules relating to mobile phone use have also been strengthened.
Now, a driver must not have a mobile phone in their hand or resting on any part of their body, including their lap, while driving – regardless of whether the phone is on or in use.
The seatbelt rules have not changed.
This includes for drivers of certain classes of vehicle, such as taxis, limousines, ridesharing services, buses, and tow trucks. These drivers, in certain circumstances, are exempt from ensuring that their passengers are wearing a seatbelt or child restraint.
From 1 November 2021, penalties will apply to those caught by the cameras and include:
- $1,033 and 4 demerit points for illegal mobile phone use.
- $413 and three demerit points for failing to wear a seatbelt. Drivers can also be fined a further $413 and three demerit points for each passenger not properly restrained.
- double demerit points apply for repeat mobile phone and seatbelt offences committed within a 12-month period.
Full information about the circumstances in which seatbelt exemptions apply can be found at: www.qld.gov.au/transport/safety/rules/road/seatbelt-rules
Further information about the new cameras, penalties, road rules, and exemptions can be found at qld.gov.au/RoadCameras