The cameras detect drivers using their phones when they shouldn't be.

Hands Free

On Sunday, New South Wales began rolling out a system of cameras designed to detect drivers using their phones illegally.

The goal: make the Australian state's roads safer.

“Some people have not got the message about using their phones legally and safely," New South Wales Minister for Roads Andrew Constance said in a news release. "If they think they can continue to put the safety of themselves, their passengers, and the community at risk without consequence, they are in for a rude shock."

Warning Shots

The cameras snap photos of drivers and then use artificial intelligence to determine whether the driver was using a mobile phone illegally. It flags any photos featuring illegal activity so that a human reviewer can then verify it.

Anyone the AI cameras catch in the next three months will receive a warning letter. After that, though, drivers will be hit with a fine of at least AU$344 and receive five demerit points on their driver's license for their illegal phone use.

Saving Lives

When New South Wales trialed the camera system earlier in 2019, it caught more than 100,000 drivers using their phones illegally, Bernard Carlon, the executive director of transport for the state's Centre for Road Safety, noted in the news release.

Carlon went on to say that he believes the AI cameras could prevent as many as 100 fatal or serious injury crashes over the next five years — and if he's right, we could see other places rolling out similar systems in the near future.

READ MORE: World-first mobile phone detection cameras rolled out in Australia [The Guardian]

More on distracted driving: New Software Helps Cars Recognize When You’re Texting and Driving

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