Australia, Transport News

NSW announces mobile detection cameras to enforce seatbelt compliance

The NSW government will also begin monitoring seatbelt wearing through its network of mobile detection cameras

The NSW government has announced it will add seatbelt compliance to the work of the existing mobile phone detection camera network after a public awareness campaign and a nine-month period in which warning letters rather than fines will be issued.

In the five years to 2022, 142 lives were lost on NSW roads in fatal crashes in which victims were travelling in a vehicle but not wearing a seatbelt.

Despite five decades of enforcement and public awareness campaigns, more than 10,000 people a year are still fined for not wearing a seatbelt.

“The simple act of wearing a seatbelt halves the risk of death and serious injury and we must convince the small minority of people who still refuse to put a seatbelt on to change their behaviour,” NSW roads minister John Graham says.

“This is a straightforward and cost-effective way to improve road safety at a time when the road toll is on the rise.

“We know our mobile phone detection cameras, which were introduced by the former government in 2020, have been effective in changing that dangerous behaviour over time, and we expect the same result as we expand their use to seatbelt enforcement.

“There will be a warning period before fines are issued to drivers to give motorists the chance to change their behaviour and that is a sensible way to proceed.

“I urge drivers to buckle up each time they are in a vehicle and make sure your passengers are also using their seatbelts. It’s a simple action but it just may save your life.”

Independent modelling provided to the NSW government suggests camera-based enforcement could save between 17 and 26 lives over five years and reduce serious, life-changing injuries by up to 62.

Legislative changes will be introduced to NSW parliament ahead of a thorough public awareness campaign and a nine-month period in which drivers will receive a warning letter rather than fine. It is expected that fines from cameras will be issued in the first quarter of 2025.

Every dollar raised by seatbelt cameras will go back into road safety – as is currently the case with all fine revenue from speed, red light and mobile phone detection cameras.

NSW regional roads and transport minister Jenny Aitchison says she wants to see everyone using a seatbelt for every trip, as it’s a simple action that has been proven to save lives.

“Fifty years ago, at the urging of the CWA, among others, the former Member for Maitland and this state’s longest serving Transport Minister, the late Milton Morris, made wearing a seatbelt the law in NSW,” Aitchison says.

“We must continue this bipartisan legacy of putting safety first, and in the 21st century, camera detection technology is vital to this task.

“We will continue community education and awareness campaigns and provide a warning period as we roll out cameras, but in the end, we must act to save lives.

“The grief, the trauma and regret of those who lose loved ones lasts a lifetime. We should all wear a seatbelt, every single time.”

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