Australian State Uses High-Tech Cameras to Catch Distracted Drivers

Category: Top Stories


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. scheme / skim / (n) – a plan or strategy

    The police’s new scheme is successful because the number of road accidents decreased.

  2. keep track of (someone/something) / kip træk əv / (idiom) – to observe or watch someone or something

    The authorities need to know if the new policy is effective, so they’re going to keep track of changes in traffic for six months.

  3. exclude / ɪkˈsklud / (v) – to keep something or someone from being part of a group

    Kids who were five years old and below were excluded from the activity so that they wouldn’t get hurt.

  4. trial run / ˈtraɪ əl rʌn / (n) – the testing of a product, service, or technology before it becomes officially released

    The generator is now being improved because it failed four times during its trial run.

  5. fixed / fɪkst / (adj) – attached securely so that it does not move

    You can’t move the bench because it’s fixed to the wall.


Read the text below.

New South Wales in Australia plans to roll out AI cameras that can catch drivers who use mobile phones inside vehicles.

According to Andrew Constance, the state’s minister for Transport and Roads, the new scheme is meant to keep drivers from getting distracted by their phones. Records show that in recent years, accidents involving drivers using mobile phones have been increasing.

To lessen these accidents, authorities have decided to use advanced AI-powered cameras to keep track of drivers. The devices use AI to exclude drivers who are not using phones and other gadgets. Drivers may still use phones inside vehicles, but only through phone cradles or via Bluetooth connection. They are also allowed to pass a phone to another passenger or use it in drive-through services.

If a driver is using a phone or another device illegally, the AI cameras will take photos of the vehicle’s registration plate, as well as the driver’s hands. Authorities will verify the photos, and drivers found guilty will be sent a letter and fined at least $233.

The official release of the cameras comes after a successful six-month trial run. Some of the cameras will be fixed on the road, while portable ones will be moved around within the area. Drivers will not know if they are near any of the special cameras.

Despite the intentions of the new scheme, it was criticized by an Australian roadside assistance organization. The group wants the government to set up warning signs whenever drivers approach the special cameras. Constance argued, however, that the cameras have to be hidden so that drivers will be responsible whether or not they are being watched.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think using cameras is a reliable method to catch distracted drivers? Why or why not?
• Do you think New South Wales’ new scheme is too strict? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• Would you feel safer knowing that AI is being used by authorities in law enforcement (e.g. the police)? Why or why not?
• Do you think humans can already completely rely on AI in law enforcement (e.g. advanced cameras)? Discuss.