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Safety camera trial detects over 50,000 potential offences in first two months

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More than 50,000 potential driving offences have been detected during the first two months of a Waka Kotahi trial of safety cameras in Auckland.

The six-month trial, which is the first of its kind in Aotearoa, got underway on 23 May using two cameras at three locations in Auckland to detect instances of drivers using hand-held mobile phones as well as those not wearing seatbelts.

Over the first two months of the trial a total of 50,333 potential mobile phone use offences have been detected - an average of 800 per day, representing 1.14 percent of the total number of 4.4 million vehicles which have travelled through the camera sites in the first two months.

The seatbelt-detecting function of the cameras was enabled on July 23, and initial data on potential offences for non-wearing of seatbelts will be available from next month.

Kane Patena, Waka Kotahi Director of Land Transport says the initial data is providing useful insight into the camera technology itself as well as providing evidence on the level of offending. 

“We know that driver distraction is a contributing factor in nearly 8% of all crashes where someone is killed, and approximately 90 people a year are killed on our roads because they didn’t wear a seatbelt. However, the scale of actual distracted driving and seatbelt non-compliance in general is mostly anecdotal.  

“The purpose of this trial is twofold - to test the camera technology and ensure that it is capable of detecting offences, and to build on the evidence base to help us better understand the scale of illegal mobile phone use and non-wearing of seatbelts.

“A key part of Road to Zero, New Zealand’s road safety strategy, involves supporting good road user choices, which includes encouraging people to not use their phones while driving and making sure everyone is correctly restrained. Better evidence on these issues will help shape new initiatives to encourage people to make safer choices while driving.” 

Mr Patena says a full analysis will be undertaken following the completion of the six-month trial. Waka Kotahi will publish a full report with detailed findings following the completion of the trial.

“We are only two months into the trial, and no detailed analysis has been completed on the raw data. Decisions on the future use of this technology will be made following the completion of the trial and a detailed analysis of the results,” says Mr Patena. 

The initial trial data has been published on the Waka Kotahi website and will continue to be updated periodically during the trial period.

The cameras capture all vehicles moving through the site, detecting drivers whose hands are not both on the steering wheel of the vehicle and potentially otherwise occupied with a mobile phone. From 23 July, the cameras have also been detecting whether the occupants are wearing a seatbelt.  

To protect people’s privacy, the face of the driver and any passengers are not included in the image and the number plate of the vehicle will be automatically blurred when an image is captured. Images where no offence is captured are deleted within minutes at the camera site, and those where potential offences are detected are deleted within 48 hours.  

Because the trial is focused on gathering information, and there is no Police involvement in the trial, no enforcement action will be taken as a result of the trial. This means no warning letters, infringement notices or any other communication related to any violations detected by the relevant safety cameras will be sent.    

A privacy impact assessment on the trial has been carried out, and Waka Kotahi has been working with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner to address all privacy matters. 

Periodic updates on the number of detected offences will be published by Waka Kotahi during the course of the six month trial. This data is directly from the supplier and has not been analysed. As this is a trial of the technology, the data may contain gaps due to operational factors relating to camera setup and reconfiguration. 

 Date

Total offences

Total vehicles

Offences per day

Average vehicles per day

Offence rate

24 May – 23 June

23,904

2,423,700

747

75,741

0.99%

24 June – 23 July

26,429

1,988,300

852

 64,139

1.33%

Total to date

50,333

4,412,000

800

 69,940

1.14%

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