Bendigo police to trial futuristic new camera

BENDIGO police will trial a futuristic new camera that can detect drivers who tweet, text or talk on their mobile phones from 700 metres away.

The "Ranger" is Australia's first mobile camera and can be used to nab drivers using phones or not wearing seat belts long before they spot the camera.

The camera will also detect motorists who drive carelessly while applying make-up or eating at the wheel.

Acting Senior Sergeant Dale Simm from Bendigo's highway patrol said anything designed to assist in lowering the road toll was a good thing.

"We'll be trialing the new cameras so they should be in Bendigo at some stage," he said.

"I'm not sure when they're actually coming here but they should be a good instrument to use.

"It's just another tool we can use to detect people who are on their mobile phones and who are not using their seat belts."

Under penalties introduced late last year, drivers caught using mobile phones will be hit with hefty fines of $433 and four demerit points.

Drivers on a full licence who accumulate 12 demerit points in three years can lose their licence.

"Using mobile phones is one of the major ones with distractions and that's what we're targeting," Acting Senior Sergeant Simm said.

"Impaired driving is one of the major things causing accidents in the area so if we can get people to put their mobile phones down and not use them and just concentrate on the driving that would be really good."

Acting Senior Sergeant Simm said people should avoid distractions, including eating, while driving.

"You probably are better off if you're going to have something to eat, to pull over, have something to eat, have a bit of a walk around, take a bit of time and then continue your journey," he said.

"Depending on the situation you may get charged with careless driving, you may get a fine.

"It depends on what the circumstances are and what you're actually doing."

Police at various locations around the state are expected to use the 13-day Easter and Anzac Day holiday period to trial the "Ranger".

Assistant Commissioner Robert Hill said this was one of the "most significant road policing operations conducted in this state over the Easter period".

"We know motorists are quick to put their phone down and put their seatbelt on when they see a police car," he said.

"With this long-lens camera, we will see them first."

- with The Age

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