Germany will be employing a new type of camera technology to help stop distracted driving, which can see into your car and detect if you’re holding a smartphone.
Distracted driving is a common problem all around the world, and as smartphones become more connected with our vehicles, many people find it harder and harder not to fiddle with them in the car.
“In 2021 alone, there were 1,001 accidents caused by distraction, among other things due to cell phone use while driving,” says State Interior Minister Roger Lewentz (SPD). “By using the new camera, we expect a further increase in road safety.”
According to Auto Motor Sport, the technology works in a similar way to a regular speed camera, but instead of taking a picture of your license plate, it takes a picture through your windshield. The intelligent software scans the hand position of the driver, and whether they are holding a device. Suspicious hand positions will be photographed, and the photo will be evaluated by specially trained personnel.
The southeastern Australian state of NSW has been using special detection cameras to capture drivers on their mobile phones since March of 2020
Test units were set up in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate in Germany, a single monocam was set up above a road with a designated computer and pointed down at an angle that can see into the cockpit of the cars below. Within one hour of operation, the camera had already caught 10 offenders.
Officials were convinced the technology worked, and on June 1, 2022 will put it into service as a three-month pilot project in Trier. After another trial period in Mainz, the data will be analyzed and officials will decide whether or not to expand the system.
Fines will only be €100 ($105 USD) and 1 demerit point on the offender’s license, but police say the effort is to stop people from dangerously driving while using their phone, rather than collecting fines.
Other parts of the world have also started using cameras to catch people distracted driving. In New South Wales, Australia, phone detection cameras have been in operation since 2019 and were then adopted by the Dutch police, which was the first example of a European country using them.
German authorities also say that the camera does not recognize faces and emphasize that data protection and information security were found to be harmless by the state commissioner.