Centre for Road Safety

Cameras targeting illegal phone use across NSW

Since 1 March 2020, mobile phone detection cameras, including fixed and transportable cameras, have been targeting drivers illegally using a mobile phone across NSW anywhere, anytime.

The system operates day and night and in all weather conditions, using high-definition cameras to capture images of the front-row cabin space of all vehicles to detect illegal mobile phone use. Since its implementation, the Mobile Phone Detection Camera Program has been successful in reducing illegal mobile phone use on our roads.

As part of the 2026 Road Safety Action Plan, the NSW Government has announced that mobile phone detection cameras will also be used to enforce seatbelt offences. The community will be informed before this commences. In NSW, each year, on average, over 30 drivers and passengers are killed and around 90 seriously injured in crashes when not wearing available seatbelts. Many of these deaths and injuries could have been prevented if seatbelts had been worn.

NSW Police continue to enforce seatbelt offences, illegal mobile phone use and other high-risk behaviours as part of regular on-road policing operations.

For more information about the mobile phone detection cameras, please see our FAQs below, and for information about mobile phone rules visit our Know the rules page.

Watch our video or read a transcript.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why has the NSW Government implemented this program?
  2. How is the camera program being rolled out?
  3. How does the technology work?
  4. Is the system completely automated or are images subject to human review?
  5. What if I am issued a penalty notice but do not believe an offence was committed?
  6. Is this really a world-first program?
  7. How is privacy protected?
  8. Where is the data stored?
  9. What criteria is used to determine camera locations? How many in metropolitan areas and how many regional areas?
  10. What is the penalty for being caught for illegal mobile phone use?
  11. How long after an offence are penalty notices issued?
  12. What if I’m the registered operator of the vehicle but was not driving at the time of the offence?
  13. How is the community being informed about the cameras?
  14. What are the risks are of using a mobile phone while driving?
  15. How many people are injured in road crashes where mobile phone use is a factor?
  16. What are the rules for using a mobile phone while driving/riding?
  17. Will the cameras also detect seatbelt offences?

1. Why has the NSW Government implemented this program?

  • The Mobile Phone Detection Camera Program is a key initiative to achieve the Government’s ongoing targets to reduce road fatalities and serious injuries to zero by 2056.
  • Automated, camera-based enforcement, coupled with police enforcement, has played a critical role in addressing other high-risk behaviours on our roads such as speeding and red light running. These camera programs are proven to help prevent crashes and reduce road trauma.
  • The pilot, which tested the camera technology from January to June 2019 in both fixed and transportable modes, proved the technology was able to operate with high reliability in real world conditions.
  • During the pilot more than 100,000 drivers were found to be using a mobile phone illegally.
  • Independent modelling by Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) estimates that the program will contribute to a reduction in road trauma of approximately 100 fatal and serious injury crashes over a five-year period.
  • Detection using fixed or transportable cameras is possible at locations that may be difficult for police to enforce, resulting in a safer road environment for all road users.
  • There is strong community support for using cameras to enforce illegal mobile phone use while driving or riding.
  • A community survey commissioned by Transport for NSW was completed early April 2018, after laws were tabled in NSW Parliament to permit use of the technology. Three quarters (74 per cent) of those surveyed supported the use of cameras to enforce mobile phone offences.
  • A further survey was undertaken in May 2019, during the pilot, and found the level of support had increased to 80 per cent.
  • This level of support has been sustained. Community research conducted as part of consultations for the Road Safety Action Plan in March/April 2021 showed that 79 per cent of drivers believed mobile phone detection cameras were an important measure in making NSW roads safer.

2. How is the camera program being rolled out?

  • The program began operating on 1 December 2019, with warning letters being issued for the first three months. During this time, drivers caught using their phones illegally were issued a warning letter to encourage them to change their behaviour.
  • Enforcement of illegal phone use detected by the mobile phone detection cameras commenced on 1 March 2020.
  • The program is managed by Transport for NSW. Acusensus has been engaged to deliver, install and maintain the camera technology. Penalty notices are issued by Revenue NSW, in a similar way to other camera fines.
  • The program is being expanded over three years (from 2019-20 to 2022-23) with a target of more than 135 million annual vehicle checks by 2022-23. To help reach this target, it is anticipated that approximately 45 cameras will be operating across NSW, incorporating both fixed and transportable units.

3. How does the technology work?

  • The mobile phone detection camera system incorporates a number of cameras and an infra-red flash to capture clear images of passing vehicles in all traffic and weather conditions.
  • The artificial intelligence software automatically reviews images and detects potential offending drivers, and excludes images of non-offending drivers from further action.
  • Images that are automatically deemed likely to contain a mobile phone offence will be verified by appropriately-trained personnel. Images rejected by the artificial intelligence will typically be permanently deleted within an hour of detection.
  • Both fixed and transportable versions of the cameras use the same camera technology.

4. Is the system completely automated or are images subject to human review?

  • The artificial intelligence software automatically reviews images and detects potential offending drivers, and excludes images of non-offending drivers from further action. If no offence is detected, images are permanently and irretrievably deleted, typically within an hour.
  • Importantly, the software is a screening tool only. If a possible offence is detected, there are then several stages of human review and adjudication before a penalty notice will be issued.
    • Images containing possible offences are verified by the vendor delivering the program. This check is completed by approved trained staff using a secure network. The images that are viewed at this stage are cropped and pixelated to remove information that would identify the vehicle or the vehicle location. Images that are do not contain offences at this stage are deleted within 72 hours.
    • If a likely offence is found in the first review of images by the vendor, files are securely transmitted to Transport for NSW for further review by trained officers. Images that are verified at this stage to likely contain an offence are supplied to Revenue NSW.
    • Revenue NSW conducts final adjudication and issues a penalty notices. If Revenue NSW determines that an offence cannot be proven, then a penalty notice will not be issued.
  • This process is similar to other camera enforcement programs in NSW but with added human reviews to verify the potential offence identified by the camera system. All speeding and red-light offences that are captured by cameras automatically are adjudicated to verify details within the images, including number plates, before a penalty notice is issued.

5. What if I am issued a penalty notice but do not believe an offence was committed?

  • You can ask Revenue NSW to review the infringement. If Revenue NSW decides the penalty notice should stand, you may elect to have your matter dealt with at court. You can request a review on the Revenue NSW website.

6. Is this really a world-first program?

  • NSW is the first jurisdiction in Australia to prove this technology works and to implement a state-wide camera program.
  • Partnership with industry and early adoption has enabled NSW to rapidly develop and validate this cutting-edge technology.
  • On a global level, Transport for NSW is not aware of any other jurisdiction that has introduced a fully operational mobile phone detection camera enforcement system ahead of NSW.
  • Technology will continue to play a key role in delivering safer travel, consistent with the Future Transport vision of a trauma-free transport network by 2056.

7. How is privacy protected?

  • Transport for NSW and Revenue NSW, the agencies responsible for the management and administration of camera programs and fines, have strict obligations to ensure the personal information of NSW road users is protected in accordance with statutory requirements.
  • Transport for NSW undertook consultation with the NSW Privacy Commissioner during the pilot and discussions have continued to ensure compliance with privacy principles.
  • The program will ensure only the minimum amount of data required to detect and enforce offences is retained.
  • Images captured by cameras will be reviewed automatically by artificial intelligence software; those which do not contain evidence of an offence will be permanently and irretrievably deleted, typically within an hour.
  • When a potential offence is detected, images are partially pixelated and cropped before the images are viewed by vendor staff (who have been background checked) and trained Transport for NSW officers, prior to a decision being made to issue a penalty notice.
  • In common with all NSW traffic camera enforcement systems, strict data security measures are included in the scope of requirements for the program.

8. Where is the data stored?

  • All personal information is stored securely in Australia and handled in accordance with strict security requirements.
  • As for other NSW camera enforcement programs, the camera vendor is required, and bound by law, to adhere to strict privacy and security requirements.  Regular audits of these requirements are part of the program.

9. What criteria is used to determine camera locations? How many in metropolitan areas and how many regional areas?

  • The cameras operate in locations that meet one or more criteria and ensure geographical spread of deterrence. Criteria includes prevalence of crashes or relevant crash types and advice from NSW Police, including locations that may be difficult to enforce using existing police resources.
  • The program aims to reach close to 100 percent of the NSW driving population through a mix of metropolitan and regional deployments.
  • The program is being expanded over three years and the distribution between regional and metro deployments will be finalised during this period.

10. What is the penalty for being caught for illegal mobile phone use?

  • The fine for illegal mobile phone use is $352, or $469 if detected in a school zone. There is a five-demerit-point penalty for illegal mobile phone use, which increases to 10 demerit points during double-demerit periods.
  • These fines and demerit point penalties apply to both camera-detected offences and infringements issued by NSW Police.
  • As with speed and red light camera programs, every cent from mobile phone detection camera fines goes directly into the Community Road Safety Fund to be reinvested in important road safety initiatives such as road safety education in schools, flashing lights in school zones and safety infrastructure like audio tactile line markings, crash barriers and vehicle-activated signs on high risk curves.

11. How long after an offence are penalty notices issued?

  • Penalty notices will typically be issued within a week of an offence being committed. As for camera-detected speeding and red-light offences in NSW, the recipient of the penalty notice will be able to view, via the Revenue NSW website, the image related to the penalty notice.

12. What if I’m the registered operator of the vehicle but was not driving at the time of the offence?

  • As with speed and red light camera offences, the legislation requires the person who has been issued with the penalty notice, if they were not the driver at the time the offence occurred, to nominate the person driving at the time of the offence and who is therefore responsible for the offence.

13. How is the community being informed about the cameras?

  • A comprehensive public education program is in place across a range of communication channels including television, radio, social media, and outdoor, to raise community awareness about the program.
  • The campaign includes key messages about the road rules, which penalties apply for camera detected offences and to thank drivers for driving safely.
  • Transport for NSW is also using Variable Message Signs (VMS) and has installed fixed signs on key routes to ensure drivers are aware of camera-based enforcement of illegal mobile phone use.

14. What are the risks are of using a mobile phone while driving?

  • Driving is a complex activity; anything that takes your hands off the wheel, eyes off the road or mind off the driving task is dangerous, not just for you, but everyone else on the road.
  • Being distracted when driving increases the risk of a crash. Simply taking your eyes off the road for longer than two seconds, doubles the risk of a crash.
  • Research has found that mobile phone use while driving is associated with at least a four-fold increase in the risk of having a casualty crash, while texting increases the crash risk even further.

15. How many people are injured in road crashes where mobile phone use is a factor?

  • In NSW during the period 2016-2020, there were 116 casualty crashes involving a driver/rider using a hand held mobile phone – resulting in 10 deaths and 165 injuries.
  • Of those, 54 casualty crashes occurred in country NSW - resulting in 7 deaths and 75 injuries.
  • However, the contribution of mobile phone distraction to road trauma is under-reported due to difficulties with obtaining conclusive evidence at crash scenes.

16. What are the rules for using a mobile phone while driving/riding?

  • Know the rules has been established to help road users understand the rules that apply to different licence holders and answers common questions about the mobile phone road rules.

17. Will the cameras also detect seatbelt offences?

  • In NSW, each year, on average, more than 30 drivers and passengers are killed and a further 90 seriously injured in crashes when not wearing available seatbelts. Many of these deaths and injuries could have been prevented if seatbelts had been worn.
  • The NSW Government continues to look at ways new technology can assist in driving down the NSW road toll.
  • Since its implementation, the Mobile Phone Detection Camera Program has been successful in reducing illegal mobile phone use on our roads. It made sense to see if the same cameras could be used to tackle other high risk behaviours known to result in significant road trauma.
  • The technology was tested to help assess if it could reliably detect potential seatbelt offences. Testing showed the existing cameras can detect seatbelt offences, as well as mobile phone use offences.
  • As part of the 2026 Road Safety Action Plan, the NSW Government has committed to using mobile phone detection cameras to also detect seatbelt offences. This is designed to address the significant ongoing trauma that occurs when motorists do not buckle up.
  • Consistent with all road safety programs, Transport for NSW will inform the community in advance of the cameras being used to enforce seatbelt offences.