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WA Police use futuristic camera to catch drivers from 700m away

Date

Nicole Cox

WA Police are now capitalising on new technology that provided clearer images to identify other offences by the driver.

WA Police are now capitalising on new technology that provided clearer images to identify other offences by the driver. Photo: WA Police

WA Police are preparing to trial a revolutionary “Big Brother” style long-range camera that will detect drivers using mobile phones and committing in-car offences from up to 700m away.

The new camera will also be used to detect and fine drivers and passengers who are not wearing seatbelts as well as other distractions such as applying make-up or eating behind the wheel.

Fairfax Media understands a trial of the long-range zoom camera, which costs $45,000, is just weeks away.

The announcement comes after Fairfax Media revealed on Thursday that WA Police were using roadside speed cameras to catch drivers using mobile phones behind the wheel, in a West Australian first.

In what police brand “double whammy fines”, traffic intelligence officers are trawling images captured by Vitronic laser speed cameras to check for other offences, including drivers using mobile phones and not wearing seatbelts.

Several “dual offence” infringements have been issued in recent weeks to alleged speeding drivers that show them talking on mobile phones at the same time.

On Thursday, Acting Deputy Commissioner Michelle Fyfe said police also had another hi-tech weapon to help turn the tide on road trauma - a long-range zoom camera that could capture clear images of drivers from up to 700m away.

The camera is currently undergoing certification, with plans to trial it shortly.

In April, Victoria Police started using the futuristic 700m zoom cameras in a bid to catch drivers on mobile phones, long before motorists spot the camera.

“[This is] new and evolving technology where we are able to look much further down the road and get that crystal clear image,” Mrs Fyfe said.

“With the long-range cameras, obviously we can see much further away.

“There are those people who think they can be pretty sneaky and be talking away... and drop [the phone]. Seven hundred metres away – we’ll probably see them before they see us so there are some advantages.”

Mrs Fyfe said ultimately the zoom would be used in conjunction with a speed camera. Initially, it would be manually operated by a police officer, but there was the potential to link it to a speed camera to monitor multiple offences by drivers.

 “There is a certification process we have to go through to be able to use it in Western Australia and to be able to use the image it captures for evidence...Once we’ve gone through that, we’ll actually start trialling it out on the road.”

Until now, police have been unable to retrospectively issue fines for illegal mobile phone use and failing to wear restraints, forcing officers to catch drivers in the act.

But Infringement Management and Operations assistant director Tony O’Donoghue said police were now capitalising on new technology that provided clearer images to identify other offences by the driver as well as speeding offences.

12 comments so far

  • I'd be more interested in the WA POL cleaning up WA driver's habit of not keeping left in dual carriage ways, ultimately blocking both lanes of traffic. It was a constant source of compliant when I lived in Perth. Indeed, WA drivers could well be the worst drivers in all of Australia.

    Commenter
    Glad to not be driving in WA
    Location
    The other half of Australia
    Date and time
    June 05, 2014, 3:02PM
    • Yep , also in Asia, trucks are not allowed to use the outside lane. Pitty the truck drivers here are not forced to follow the same rule. It works very well.

      Commenter
      brrrrm
      Date and time
      June 06, 2014, 8:56AM
  • When public confidence in Police and government is so low it staggers me that they think these sneaky behaviours are clever. Big mistake. Lazy policing ...cynical public. Yes mobile phones are dangerous when driving but be careful of what seeds this sows ..certainly not trust or respect

    Commenter
    Roy
    Location
    Perth
    Date and time
    June 05, 2014, 3:05PM
    • These 'sneaky behaviours' seem to catch thousands of people who fail to adhere to the law. It's pretty simple: do the speed limit and don't use your mobile phone, you may struggle with it Roy but a majority don't.

      Commenter
      realist
      Date and time
      June 05, 2014, 5:09PM
  • WA drivers picking your nose behind the wheel will now cost you $ 887.00 aren't you glad you have voted for such a progressive and caring political outfit?? No improvement to our roads, driver education or road toll but Colon will rub his greasy hands in his goldplated castle with the extra tax coming in. Microchipping people at birth will be the next "revolutionary" improvement the politicians have in store for you. Ever heard of George Orwell, maybe you should read some of his books, Colon apparently has?? If you own a car and are not a LNP politician you will be milked like the proverbial milk cows for extra revenue, Colon needs to find some 30 billion dollars to just fill the hole he single handedly created.

    Commenter
    Arthur Insidious
    Date and time
    June 05, 2014, 4:42PM
    • Has anyone else noticed all the new surveillance cameras popping up at intersections all over Perth?

      Who is paying for all this police state infrastructure control grid to be put in place, and why?

      1984 is not, repeat, IS NOT supposed to be an instruction manual.

      Commenter
      Mike from Seville Grove
      Location
      Seville Grove
      Date and time
      June 05, 2014, 5:27PM
      • All good in theory but how many places around town are you going to have a clear range of sight of 700 metres. Sounds like a beat up to me

        Commenter
        Gingsy
        Date and time
        June 05, 2014, 6:33PM
        • You can't please everyone, that's for sure, but I think the cameras are a step in the right direction. However, having said that, I would much prefer "active" policing, rather than "passive roadside sitting", to curtail blatant "hooning" such as burn-outs, donuts, drag racing, etc.

          Commenter
          Fast Eddie
          Date and time
          June 05, 2014, 6:50PM
          • Seriously fix the crime in the community first!Whoops that does not raise money

            Commenter
            Ripped off
            Date and time
            June 05, 2014, 9:03PM
            • i just spent $300 on the christmas party for the cops on last weekend...i know i wasnt doing what the cops said i was doing but im not going to waist my time trying to fight it in court...hope that cop sleeps well at night....country road and the guy infront of me was going faster..but he picks on me sleep well you wanker from keysbrook just out of pinjarra...

              Commenter
              skeptic
              Location
              perth
              Date and time
              June 06, 2014, 6:38AM

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