Transport for NSW says the cameras, which are both fixed and trailer-mounted, will operate day and night in all weather conditions to identify drivers using their mobiles.
The system uses artificial intelligence to determine if someone behind the wheel is on their phone. If an image is identified as likely to show someone breaking the law this way, it will be reviewed by a human.
“It’s a system to change the culture,” the NSW police assistant commissioner, Michael Corboy, told Australian media last week.
Forty-five portable cameras will be set up across the state over the next three years. For the first three months, drivers caught using their phones will only receive a warning, but after that period, they will be hit with a $344 AUD ($233 US) fine and five penalty points, or $457 AUD ($309 US) if in a school zone and 10 penalty points during double penalty periods.
329 people have died on NSW roads so far this year. The government said that independent modeling shows the cameras could prevent 100 fatal and serious injury crashes across five years. But the concern is that the courts could be overwhelmed by drivers disputing their fines.
As is the case with other locations, making phone calls while driving in New South Wales is only legal when using a hands-free kit.