Queensland drivers to face increased fines for seatbelts, speeding and running a red light

Queensland motorists caught not wearing a seatbelt will now be fined more than $ 1,000 and will lose four demerit points under new changes to a number of traffic offens.

It comes as figures reveal nearly 50,000 fines were handed out for motorists caught using a mobile phone or not wearing a seatbelt in the past four months with the state government’s new covert cameras.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the cameras are often moved and targeted at known danger points.

He said “it’s a matter of time” before people who are regularly breaking seatbelt and mobile phones rules on the road are caught.

“These cameras are anywhere, anytime,” he said.

Under new laws taking effect from July 1, drivers caught speeding will also be slapped with increased fines, with the offense now incurring a penalty of between $ 287 to $ 1,653 – but there’s no change to demerit points.

Those caught running a red light will also have to pay more – with the fines raised from $ 413 to $ 575 from July 1.

The strictest change is for drivers and front-seat passengers caught not wearing a seatbelt, which will increase from a $ 413 fine and three demerit points, to $ 1,078 and four demerit points.

Mr Bailey said nearly half of Queensland’s seatbelt fines since the cameras were installed have been for passengers.

He said drivers need to take responsibility for the safety of everyone in their car.

“Make sure they’ve got a seatbelt on as well. That’s absolutely your responsibility as a driver and clearly there’s a problem there,” he said.

Figures shock transport minister

From November last year to the end of February, a total of 47,668 fines were issued across Queensland due to the cameras, which use artificial intelligence software to filter images and detect if an offense is being committed.

It included 33,805 fines for the illegal use of a mobile phone and 13,875 fines for a driver or front-seat passenger not wearing a seatbelt.

Mr Bailey said the numbers were shocking and he was particularly concerned about the number of seatbelt offenses.

“To think seatbelts have been mandatory for 50 years and almost 14,000 people have been caught doing the wrong thing in just four months is outrageous.”

Queensland Transport Minister Mark Bailey speaking to the media on a train station platform.
Transport Minister Mark Bailey says he was particularly concerned about the number of seatbelt offenses.(ABC News: Josh Bavas)

Brisbane drivers racked up the most fines in the state with 23,663, followed by the Gold Coast with 17,128 fines and Cairns with 2,177 infringements issued.

About $ 40.6 million in revenue for the Department of Transport and Main Roads was generated from the 47,668 issues in the first four months of the cameras being in use permanently.

About $ 34.9 million came from the mobile phone fines while $ 5.7 million were from seatbelt offenses.

‘If you don’t want a fine, do the right thing’

The last state budget forecast that revenue from fines and forfeitures would increase by 39.3 per cent in 2021–22 to $ 595 million, partly driven by the introduction of new cameras.

The government also plans to introduce more cameras over time.

All fines collected by the cameras are invested back into road safety initiatives and education.

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