More than 100,000 Queensland drivers have been caught using phones or not wearing seatbelts in the past six months, leading to more than $84 million in fines being issued.
- Transport Minister Mark Bailey says he is shocked by the number of offenses
- Some drivers say the system is inaccurate and are contesting their fines
- Mr Bailey says every image is examined by a department officer before a fine is issued
Between November 1 and May 25, 100,375 infringement notices were issued based on images from the state’s new camera systems.
But some drivers say they have been unfairly pinged, with some photos apparently showing seatbelts being worn.
The majority of those offenses were for using a mobile phone, but Transport Minister Mark Bailey said the number of people not wearing seatbelts was “shocking”.
“To think seatbelts have been mandatory for 50 years, and almost 29,000 people have been caught doing the wrong thing in just six months is outrageous,” he said.
More than 71,000 people were caught looking at their phone, which carries a $1,033 fine and the loss of four demerit points.
The highest number of phone offenses were in the Brisbane region, with 37,073 fines issued in the city area.
Logan and the Gold Coast clocked the highest number of seatbelt offences, both for drivers and passengers, with more than 7,000 fines in both categories.
“I just urge drivers, before you start the car, put the seatbelt on, make sure everyone else has one — especially if you have children,” Mr Bailey said.
The Minister said data presented to him showed nearly a quarter of Queensland’s fatal crashes involved people not wearing a seatbelt.
Since the start of the year 133 lives have been lost on Queensland roads.
ABC Radio Brisbane caller Aaron said his sister, a single mother from Sydney, was sent an infringement notice for not wearing a seatbelt despite the photo being “inconclusive”.
He said his sister and their elderly mother, who was sitting in the passenger seat, were clearly wearing seatbelts and now had to fight the fine in court.
“She’s a single mother that lives in Sydney and has to travel to Brisbane to appear in a magistrates’ court as the first step of contesting it,” Aaron said.
“It would be the path of least resistance to pay the fine and be done with it.
“The process involved in going up against this is ridiculous.
“There needs to be at least an easier option to have the matter [resolved].”
Mr Bailey said he would be keen to discuss the fine with Aaron and acknowledged that some people had appealed their fines.
He said each photo was inspected by a department officer before any fine was issued to ensure “integrity” in the system.
“If there’s any doubt whatsoever, we don’t issue a fine,” Mr Bailey said.
Caroline from Brookfield also texted in to say she had been issued a fine after wearing her seatbelt under her shoulder due to a long-term injury.
seatbelt fine hike
From July 1, the fine for not wearing a seatbelt will increase to $1,078 and four demerit points.
Mr Bailey said the driver would be the person fined, regardless of who was not wearing a seatbelt.
He said the system was designed to be accurate, with the images scanned automatically and any likely infringements sent to officers who inspected each photo individually.
“I made it very clear when we were designing this,” Mr Bailey said.
“I said, ‘I do not want there to be any issue around integrity of the system.’