Australian drivers have set a new record, and not in a good way.
A whopping 362,342 infringement notices were issued in 2022 to drivers caught using their mobile phone behind the wheel, according to data compiled by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts.
But it’s the rapidly proliferating mobile phone detection cameras that are doing the heavy lifting, with 312,945 of these infringements issued by cameras – up from 178,296 in 2021.
According to the Department of Infrastructure, the number of mobile phone infringement notices issued by police officers declined across the country every year between 2017 and 2021.
The activation of mobile phone detection cameras, however, saw a massive spike in overall infringements in 2020.
The total number of mobile phone infringements issued in 2022 also grew by 64 per cent higher compared with the previous year.
Overall in 2022, speeding infringements – issued by both cameras and police – were down slightly from 2021, with 4,551,342 speeding infringements issued in 2022 compared to 4,867,138 in 2021. The 2022 data excludes the ACT.
There were more infringements recorded by police officers, however, though cameras still account for the lion’s share of infringements.
Long-term, there’s been an upward trend in speeding infringements since the lowest year on record, 2010. Data has been collected and compiled since 2008.
Drug-related infringements paint a worrying picture as well. Discounting the years largely affected by COVID-19, a higher percentage of roadside drug tests conducted have returned a positive result in 2022 compared to 2019, which was the biggest year on record in terms of tests conducted.
458,133 roadside tests were conducted in 2022, with 10.2 per cent of those returning a positive result. In 2019 however, 507,315 tests were conducted with 9.6 per cent of them yielding a positive result.
Drink-driving is also following a similar trend. Again discounting the years most affected by COVID-19, a higher concentration of drivers returned positive breath tests in 2022 compared with 2019.
10,639,333 breath tests were conducted last year, with 0.6 per cent of those having a positive result. In 2019, a total of 15,248,047 tests were conducted with 0.4 per cent of those being a positive result.
With seatbelt-related offences, detection cameras have again been doing the heavy lifting. Compared to 2021, the number of seatbelt infringements issued in 2022 has risen 191 per cent, with cameras issuing nearly 60 per cent of total infringements for this offence.
Sadly, there were 101 deaths on the nation’s roads in August 2023, the most recent month for which data has been compiled.
This is 6.8 per cent higher than the average for August over the previous five years. This brings the total road toll to 1240 deaths from August 2022 to August 2023.