Mobile phone and seatbelt cameras, rules, fines, exemptions
Mobile phone use and not wearing a seatbelt contribute significantly to the lives lost and serious injuries on our roads. That’s why cameras to detect illegal mobile phone use while driving and failure to wear a seatbelt are being rolled out. This comes after a successful trial of the technology.
A 3-month warning period from 26 July 2021 means that drivers detected on camera breaking the rules will be issued with a warning letter, and no penalties will apply. This warning period aims to encourage drivers to put their phones away and ensure they and their passengers are wearing seatbelts.
During this period, the Queensland Police Service will continue roadside enforcement, so drivers breaking mobile phone or seatbelt rules can still expect to be fined.
From 1 November 2021, penalties will apply to those caught by the new cameras and will include:
- $1,033 and 4 demerit points for illegal mobile phone use
- $413 and 3 demerit points for failing to wear a seatbelt. Drivers can also be fined a further $413 and 3 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.
These penalties continue to apply for roadside enforcement. A major awareness campaign will inform the community of the cameras before they are deployed for enforcement.
Why illegal mobile phone use and failure to wear a seatbelt is dangerous
Driver distraction and failure to wear a seatbelt are 2 of the fatal 5 behaviours that significantly contribute to road trauma.
Driver distraction is a major cause of road crashes and contributes to almost 20% of serious injuries on Queensland roads. Drivers and passengers are almost 9 times more likely to be killed in a crash if they are not wearing a seatbelt. Wearing a properly adjusted seatbelt improves the chance of surviving a crash by 200%.
About the cameras
The new cameras will be managed as part of the existing Camera Detected Offence Program.
Two types of mobile phone and seatbelt cameras are being rolled out:
- fixed cameras – these cameras are fitted to existing infrastructure and operating 24 hours, 7 days a week
- portable cameras – these cameras are used at random locations in both urban and regional areas for shorter periods.
Camera locations have been selected based on crash data where distraction due to mobile phone use was involved, and where not wearing a seatbelt contributed to the severity of the crash. Since the cameras will be moved to multiple locations in urban and regional areas, drivers can assume that they can be caught anywhere, anytime.
Mobile phone rules
From 26 July 2021 it will be illegal to hold a mobile phone in your hand or have it resting on any part of your body, including your lap, when driving. This applies even if you're stopped in traffic.
The phone does not need to be turned on or in use for it to be an offence.
Everyone in a vehicle fitted with seatbelts must be properly restrained. Drivers are also responsible for ensuring that every passenger, regardless of their age, wears a seatbelt or appropriate and approved child restraint.
Exemptions from the seatbelt rules apply in very limited circumstances.
How the cameras work
The cameras take multiple images of every vehicle which passes the camera, including external images to capture the registration number plate as well as images of the front seats of the vehicle. Artificial intelligence (AI) software filters the images and detects possible mobile phone use by the driver or failure to wear a seatbelt by the driver and front-seat passenger.
- Where no possible offence is detected, the AI automatically excludes the images from any further analysis and the images are deleted.
- Where the AI suspects a possible offence, the image is passed on to the Department of Transport and Main Roads to determine if an offence has been committed.
People are not identified using the images as the cameras do not capture or analyse biometric data.
We are committed to protecting the privacy of drivers and passengers and work closely with the Office of the Information Commissioner to ensure camera operations comply with privacy legislation. Only authorised personnel within the Department of Transport and Main Roads will view images for the purpose of adjudication of detected offences and determining whether to issue an infringement notice.