In 2013, researchers from the prestigious US Carnegie Mellon University and the British London School of Economics conducted what was probably the most comprehensive study into motorists who talked on mobile phones while driving. It must be pointed out that this study did not involve motorists who texted while driving. The researchers studied a whopping 8 million individual trips where motorists stated that they were talking on their hand-held mobile phones while driving. The results were most interesting, as they clearly showed that there was absolutely no correlation between this activity and deaths and accidents.
In fact in Australia, motorists drove for a solid decade while chatting on their hand-held mobile phones and the road toll and accident rate fell. So there was no reason to make this activity illegal. But of course when governments realised that mobile phones could be used as a lucrative form of revenue, they created scenarios claiming that driving while holding a mobile phone was dangerous. Those governments did not pass laws banning the holding of a banana, apple or chocolate bar while driving because of perceived outrage from the motoring public. But they passed laws to make driving while holding a mobile phone illegal and imposed large fines on transgressors because they could get away with claiming that this was a dangerous practice, even when those universities proved that it was not dangerous at all. It is exactly how governments have got away with claiming that speed cameras save live, whereas they are just cameras on sticks and are incapable of doing anything except taking photos - and generating revenue from fines.
Governments around the world, especially Australian state governments, started to make an absolute fortune from such mobile phone fines. Police would set up surveillance on overhead walkways and bridges and spy on drivers with binoculars and radio their colleagues further down roads to intercept and book motorists whom they saw holding their phones. Police would drive unmarked cars, even sports cars, alongside other cars and spy on the drivers and book them if they were talking on their mobile phones. Of course none of these instances involved those drivers causing accidents - it was just another government method of taxing people.
But like any other taxes, they are never enough for governments and there was always room to increase revenue from entrapping motorists. The philosophy was the same as with speed cameras. Why waste valuable and expensive police manpower to actually prevent motorists speeding, when machines can just sit on the sides of roads and automatically book motorists and generate revenue. Of course unlike real policing that would stop speeders on the spot, the cameras would merely click away and fill the coffers of state governments with revenue from fines while allowing the speeders to speed on - sometimes with lethal consequences. But revenue has always been more important than lives for governments.
So in Australia since 2018, the introduction of mobile phone cameras was a foregone conclusion and these cameras have been raking in the loot ever since, in ever-increasing amounts. State governments are using the same 'deeming' scam on motorists allegedly holding mobile phones while driving as they have been using on motorists who were allegedly speeding past traffic cameras. There is no requirement for a government to actually prove its case against a particular motorist accused of speeding. The government merely declares that the registered owner of the vehicle is the 'Responsible Person' and 'deems' him to be automatically guilty of the offence. This is a disgraceful violation of the long-held principle of the Presumption of Innocence, but without this 'deeming' mechanism, the whole camera racket would collapse immediately.
State governments rely on one major factor in running these camera rackets and that is the complacency and sheer stupidity of motorists. Governments know that most motorists have no way of disproving camera-based speeding tickets and now mobile phone infringements, so governments just issue fines for these alleged offences by putting the onus on motorists to disprove them, rather than the prosecution actually prove that those alleged offences were committed and by particular people, not just the registered vehicle owners.
The biggest issue with these mobile phone cameras is that they do not have a high enough resolution to distinguish whether motorists are actually holding their mobile phones or some other objects. Since these mobile phone cameras were deployed, there have been many reports of motorists being booked for holding their mobile phones, whereas they claimed that they were holding food such as chocolate bars, sunglasses, candy and even caps and hats. But state governments rely on the fact that motorists do not have any way of disproving those allegations and courts are rigged to convict motorists who challenge those infringements with no evidence to refute the accusations.
For instance in April 2021, NSW financial advisor Scott Phillips was accused of using his mobile phone while driving. He received a notice in the mail and looked at the photo that the detection cameras captured. Phillips noticed that his phone was in its cradle on the dashboard. The photo indicated that there was something else in the driver's hand. But he was automatically fined $349 and penalised five demerit points. He asked for a review.
Phillips claimed that he either was holding sunglasses or eating a chocolate bar. "I never use my phone in my hand. I have always got it on the dock", he stated. "I look at the photo and there is something blurry in my left hand resting against my leg while the phone is clearly obvious on the dash. It's probably a chocolate bar, some reckon it might be sunglasses. It's definitely not my mobile phone because you can see it on the dash."
Luckily for Phillips, the mobile phone camera photo clearly showed that his mobile phone was in its cradle and the object in his hand could not be identified. So on 05 April 2021, the NSW government formally cancelled the penalty notice imposed on Phillips and deducted the five demerit points, simply because there was no cause of action against him. But the most disgraceful part of this whole incident was that Phillips was automatically penalised and demerit points inflicted upon him, when he had not been convicted of anything.
The NSW government merely made a false accusation against Phillips of a criminal offence and immediately punished him without any evidence. This is the problem with this system and why the entire traffic and mobile phone camera system is a racket, because the government has imposed a system that convicts and penalises people without proving their guilt. Being accused of a crime is a serious matter and anybody who suffers such an indignity should immediately sue the relevant government.
In the case of Scott Phillips, he has an open and shut case against the government for attempted extortion, false accusation of a criminal offence and a few other reasons that would make a Supreme Court case for damages a pushover. Even if the government made an obvious error, that is not an excuse. The government doesn't forgive motorists for making errors such as inadvertently straying over the speed limit and does not cancel speeding tickets for such errors. Therefore in terms of equity, if the government makes such a serious error as wrongly accusing an innocent person of a criminal act, that person should pursue the government for substantial damages.
It was reported in April 2021 that drivers had claimed that hats, wallets and hands were being mistaken for mobile phones by cameras. A man from Adelaide was fined $349 and received five demerit points when he was caught on camera for holding what appeared to be a phone. He claimed he was holding a hat. Despite motorist complaints, the Centre for Road Safety defended the recording devices and insisted that they were doing their job. But this is exactly what the South Australian government claimed when a bus was pinged by a speed camera in Adelaide allegedly travelling at 80 kph when it was actually parked. Governments will happily tell an abundance of lies to prop up their traffic taxation scams.
The sad fact is that because motorists are automatically 'deemed' to be guilty of any traffic offence and most motorists will not take measures to protect themselves against these traffic scams, governments feel very comfortable in raking in the revenue from their camera rackets. I have tried for the best part of two decades to educate motorists into taking a few very simple and cost-effective ways to completely stymie these stitch-ups. Firstly, I advised all drivers to install mobile phone cradles and pair their phones to their car Bluetooth hands-free facility or purchase an inexpensive Bluetooth hands-free unit. Unfortunately, that still did not negate false accusations and infringements by governments claiming that motorists were holding their mobile phones while driving. It was a simple matter of motorists not being able to prove otherwise.
The same went for all those rogue police stitch-ups, where cops would pull over motorists and accuse them of not wearing seat belts. Again, with the motorists having no hard evidence to prove otherwise, magistrates invariably take the word of the cops over the word of motorists - unless the motorists have some irrefutable way of proving that they were indeed wearing their seat belts and that the cops were lying, most probably to meet their booking quotas. When cops know that it's their word against somebody else's, they commit many illegal acts and this is well documented. What is very concerning is that NSW government figures show that one out of forty police have been convicted of serious criminal charges. So never think that a cop is honest, because the statistics show otherwise.
After many years of assisting motorists to beat these traffic scams with my former community motoring organisation 'Campaign Against Road Ripoffs - (CARR)', I came to one conclusion and that was - motorists had to arm themselves with a device that would gather hard indisputable evidence to prove to a court or any other entity that they were not speeding, not holding their mobile phones while driving and were always wearing their seat belts. From around 2017, I set up a deal with a Taiwanese manufacturer to import such a device and distribute it to my subscribers on a non-profit basis, to make it affordable as possible. When I closed down CARR in mid-2020, I also stopped importing these devices.
After comprehensively testing many of these devices, I came to the conclusion that the only worthwhile type was one that had inbuilt GPS logging and two video cameras. Most importantly, the second camera had to record the interior of the vehicle and have infra-red illumination, so that the interior camera could clearly capture good video in the darkest of circumstances. Back then, the excellent Vacron CDS-E07 dashcam was my obvious choice at that time, as it was the very best of the few all-in-one dashcams meeting my stringent requirements. Many of my CARR subscribers purchased this dashcam and I received a number of reports where some of them used the evidence from those dashcams to force the cancellation of traffic penalty notices.
I knew that this was the only sure-fire way to beat wrongful speeding camera, red light camera and now mobile phone camera infringements, providing that motorists did not actually commit those offences. Obviously if a motorist was pinged speeding or ripping through a red light at an intersection or was holding a mobile phone while driving, then there was no valid defence against being booked. But knowing that NSW government statistics revealed that one out of seven traffic cameras were defective, the chances of being wrongfully booked by a defective camera was quite high, motorists had no way of fighting those wrongful infringements - unless they could prove otherwise.
I must stress again that because the corrupt laws in Australian states are rigged to tax motorists in every possible way, without a GPS-equipped dual camera dashcam, motorists stand little or no hope of beating wrongful infringements. The best advice to everybody is to arm themselves with such a dashcam and always have indisputable evidence available to beat stitch-ups. Going into court to fight such wrongful infringements is virtually doomed to failure without hard evidence, but if motorists presented time and date-stamped videos with GPS speed logged to prove that they were not committing any offences, then magistrates would not dare uphold those wrongful infringements. Of course if a magistrate was foolish enough to convict a driver for speeding when the hard evidence shows otherwise, the matter could be taken to appeal, where a District Court would surely overturn the magistrate's verdict and open the door to a lawsuit against the government.
This particular type of dashcam that has a second camera recording the interior of the vehicle and especially the driver would be crucial in overturning wrongful mobile phone camera infringements. In the case of Scott Phillips, he claimed that he was holding something other than his mobile phone while driving and asked for a review. Now if he had a GPS-equipped dual camera dashcam like the device that I describe here, he would have most probably done what I would do.
I would never ask for a review. I would merely demand the immediate cancellation of the penalty notice and if that was refused, I would beat the infringement in court with my GPs-logged video recordings as hard evidence, then proceed to sue the NSW government for wrongful accusation of a criminal offence and other easily sustainable claims. With Scott Phillips, a clear time and date-stamped video recording from a dashcam's second camera recording him would have nailed the government's hide to the wall in any court.
Scott Phillips was very lucky that the mobile phone camera showed that he didn't commit an offence. But what about all those instances where motorists holding chocolate bars in their hands and have their mobile phones out of sight are photographed by mobile phone cameras? They stand literally no chance of beating a mobile phone penalty - unless they have armed themselves with a GPS-equipped dual camera dashcam that has recorded them driving at the time of the alleged offence. The time and date stamped video recordings from such a device will instantly kill such a penalty notice on the spot.
Early in 2021, I was contacted by a representative of Transcend, a Korean company making all sorts of computer and other products. He enquired whether I was interested in the company's excellent all-in-one GPS-equipped dual camera dashcam. I was not importing such devices on a non-profit basis anymore, having shut down CARR in 2020. But I was still interested in the Transcend dashcam for myself after reading its phenomenal specifications and checking prices around the Internet. This Transcend dashcam was little more than half the price of the current price of the Vacron.
The representative informed me that Transcend had established a direct presence in Sydney for the official distribution of the company's products and advised me to contact the local office of a company called Motrex. So I actually purchased two Transcend Drive Pro 550B dashcams from Motrex. I installed them in the two cars here and to say that I was blown away by the way that they worked would be an understatement. For starters, the Transcend dashcam is so much easier to use than my previous Vacron dashcams. The software is far better and is available for Windows, Apple and Linux, so every modern computer operating system is catered for. And the Transcend has some great features, the handiest one for me being a GPS speed head-up display. So when I drive, I have an accurate speed displayed right in my line of sight.
I was so impressed with the Transcend Drive Pro 550B, that I wrote a comprehensive review of it and it is published in this section of this website. I also managed to make a deal with the local Motrex representative to supply people whom I recommended at a very competitive price, at least dealing with the direct Sydney representative of Transcend. So warranty issues would not be a problem. I was offered a commission for each sale, but I point-blank refused, because I was intent on trying to get all motorists to use this one-off insurance policy against government traffic penalty rackets. Of course this dashcam will provide indisputable evidence in collisions and other road incidents and even in road rage matters.
The one great thing about the Transcend dashcam is that being an all-in-one unit, it can be removed from one car literally in one second and moved to another car. So when I go on a trip and hire a rental car, I take my 'Go-Away' box that contains a small iPhone cradle, a dual port cigarette lighter power supply, Lightning and microUSB cables and the Transcend dashcam and suction cup mount. I clip the iPhone cradle to the dash, clip the Transcend dashcam to the windscreen, plug in the cigarette lighter plug, connect the power cables and I am fully protected in that rental vehicle, no different if I was driving my own car.
I advise all motorists to acquire this device, because it will be the only thing that will save them from wrongful bookings, such as the mobile phone penalty that Scott Phillips received. If he had this Transcend dashcam recording him at the time, he would have annihilated that penalty notice and most probably had grounds for a lawsuit against the NSW government. I will be most interested in seeing the outcome of this matter. But now, what you should do is to read my review of the Transcend Drive Pro 550B - here is the link - Transcend Dashcam.
If you want to acquire this marvellous device, the details are at the bottom of the review. I cannot stress how important it is for all motorists to arm themselves with this one-off insurance policy against government stitch-ups. We pay for car insurance, CTP and other expenses every year, but the one thing that may prove who was at fault in a collision is that dashcam and that could save a lot of money in increased insurance and CTP premiums. Critically, the video and GPS data from the Transcend will certainly be vital in getting a wrongful infringement cancelled, especially now that these mobile phone cameras are being used as taxation devices. You should understand that there is only one way these days to beat such wrongful infringements and that is to have your own indisputable evidence. The Transcend Drive Pro 550B will provide it.
Please understand that this is not a sales pitch for Transcend or Motrex. I get absolutely nothing out of recommending those companies. I don't really care where you acquire this device - as long as you get one. I hate hearing stories about motorists being stitched up on wrongful charges because they could not prove that they were innocent - and that is a monstrous violation of the long-established presumption of innocence that has been comprehensively trashed by state governments in their pursuit of the almighty dollar.
The only thing that I can say is that you need to be careful where you get it, as many on-line companies do not have a physical presence in Australia, even if they appear to say so. When warranty matters arise, you might find that it will cost you money to send the device overseas and with some dodgy vendors, you may never see it again. So purchasing from the authorised Australian distributor at the right price is the smart thing to do.
If you want to know more about such motoring matters, contact me via the information on the Contact page on this website.