Fears of 'mistakes' with new cameras targeting Aussie drivers: 'Can't trust them'

Millions of drivers will need to be alert to the new technology if they want to avoid hefty fines.

mobile phone and seatbelt camera pictured at Moore Park.
Surveillance of motorists is ramping up in NSW next month. Source: Nine

Road authorities have moved to ease the concerns of motorists as new camera technology looking to fine drivers will be implemented in just two weeks.

From July 1, NSW will roll out new technology used by its fixed mobile-detection cameras that will also allow them to identify seatbelt offences, following in the footsteps of Queensland and Victoria. If a motorist or their passenger is caught not wearing a seatbelt properly, a $387 fine will be issued as well as three demerit points.

However the implementation of the new technology has left some motorists questioning how effective the cameras are, with one main concern being around the quality of the camera used, and its ability to detect a seatbelt on similar-coloured clothing or other unclear scenarios.

Sydney motorist Andy Man told Yahoo News Australia the amount of disputes over alleged mobile phone offences detected by the cameras did not bode well for the new system.

"There's been plenty of people I know who were mistaken for holding other objects such as wallets, cigarette cases and other objects that were not mobile phones and sadly got punished for holding a mobile phone whilst driving. Now this shows us that we can not trust these cameras to be 100 per cent accurate or displaying clear images," he said.

"People in NSW use travel mainly to work due to our poor train network and the last thing they should have to worry about are cameras that are getting people incorrectly for something they are not doing. Cameras are not always the solution."

One notable case of a seatbelt fine wrongly being issued occurred in January when a man was fined more than $1,000 in Queensland for how his passenger was wearing her seatbelt. As seen in the photo captured by the roadside camera, the seatbelt blends in with the woman's outfit. Fighting the matter in court, the man eventually had the fine and four demerit points wiped.

Since their launch 11 months ago, Victoria's mobile phone and seatbelt detection cameras have detected more than 55,000 offences, generating more than $2 million dollars a month.

A woman wearing a seatbelt as a passenger.
This was wrongly deemed an offence earlier this year. Source: ACA

Transport for NSW says offences detected by its cameras will go through a review process, to ensure an offence has actually occurred.

"As is the process for mobile phone offences detected by cameras all suspected seatbelt offences detected by the cameras and software system go through several stages of human review by trained and authorised personnel before a fine is issued," a spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia.

"Drivers will be able to use their penalty reference details to review the images online and will be able to seek a review of their infringement by Revenue NSW, at no cost, if they believe an error has been made. Drivers also have the option to have their matter dealt with in court."

However Man argues that despite the same review process being in place for mobile phone offences, mistakes continue to be made.

More than 10,000 people a year are fined over a seatbelt offence in the state prior to the rollout of the new technology, with Minister for Roads John Graham saying it's "frankly disturbing" people continued to not wear them properly. He hopes the cameras will act as a deterrent and help drive that number down.

"Wearing a seatbelt is a simple and highly effective way to prevent trauma and doubles the chance of surviving a crash as well as reduces the risk of injury," the Transport for NSW spokesperson told Yahoo.

Do you have a story tip? Email: newsroomau@yahoonews.com.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube.