New camera blitz on wearing seatbelts


Mobile phone detection cameras have been so successful, the NSW government is going to add seatbelt detectors. After a 9-month grace period, drivers caught not wearing seatbelts can be fined from mid-2024.

Seatbelts are on camera

Some people may remember a time when they didn’t have to wear a seatbelt in a car. In fact, it has been 50 years since drivers and passengers first had to strap in. Even so, in the year to October 2023 in NSW, 27 drivers and 11 passengers lost their lives not wearing seatbelts.

The NSW government is going to add seatbelt detectors to its existing mobile phone camera network. At first, there will be a 9-month grace period where drivers receive warning letters only. Then from mid-2024, they can be fined and get demerit points.

Heavy fines for seatbelt offences

In NSW, 10,514 drivers in the year to June 2023 were caught and fined $3.9 million for not wearing a seatbelt. The fine is $387 and three demerit points for the driver and any passengers not wearing a seatbelt (as at December 2023).

As CarExpert points out, you’re not allowed to take off your seatbelt even to remove your jumper or jacket. This applies to everyone in the vehicle.

NSW was first to bring in mobile phone detection cameras but Qld, Vic and Tas already use seatbelt detectors. However, NSW may have been wise to wait. An embarrassing software glitch in the last 2 years saw 1,850 Qld motorists wrongly fined and given double demerits and 120 drivers had to wait for suspensions on their licences to be lifted.

Not wearing a seatbelt kills

While you can die from not wearing a seatbelt, you are twice as likely to suffer serious, lifechanging injuries:

  • In the year to Oct 2023, 27 drivers and 11 passengers died not wearing seatbelts.
  • In the year to March 2023, 47 drivers and 29 passengers were seriously injured not wearing seatbelts.

The 3-yr average (while Covid affected) is 30.7 deaths each year from not wearing a seatbelt. In the year to March 2022 (also Covid affected), 61 people were serious injured from not wearing a seatbelt.

Saving lives

The government claims seatbelt detection cameras could save 17 to 26 lives and reduce serious injuries by up to 62, over the next 5 years. However, over 84% of deaths and two thirds of serious injuries from not wearing seatbelts are on country roads. There will need to be seatbelt detection cameras on country roads.

It may be easier to have seatbelt detection cameras in cities, but the real problem may be elsewhere.