Acusensus Heads-Up Distracted Driving Detection and Enforcement Solution Frequently Asked Questions

1.  What is the problem?

Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system—anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.

Texting is the most alarming distraction. Sending or reading a text could take your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 100 km/h, that's like driving the length of an entire soccer or football field with your eyes closed.

You cannot drive safely unless the task of driving has your full attention. Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and increases your risk of crashing.

Unlike speeding and drink driving, this scourge is effectively un-enforced.

2.  How bad is it?

Distracted driving is the new “drink driving” of our age. According to the Centre for Road Safety approximately 25 per cent of drivers in NSW admit using their mobile phone whilst driving. Other studies put this rate as high as 70%. An alarming reality.

In NSW alone, last financial year over 40,000 people were fined for using their phones while driving. From official statistics, between 2012 to 2017 in NSW there were 175 crashes involving mobile phones resulting in 9 deaths and 50 serious injuries. This is harrowing enough however the category is under-reported and the true number caused by phone use is likely much higher.

Average rates of road fatalities across developed nations like Australia, NZ, USA, UK and France have been rising steadily for the past 5 years, and are now over 15% higher than their 2013 minimum. This alarming increase has occurred after decades of year on year improvements and despite four of the five road safety pillars improving. Vehicle safety systems, trauma care, road infrastructure and management systems have generally improved, leaving only road user behaviour. In Acusensus’ view, road user behaviour has worsened, and most of the problem is attributable to the increased prevalence of mobile phone use.

These are all frightening and harrowing statistics. Our best chance to halt these painful figures is through education and enforcement.

3.  Why is it a problem?  i.e. What are the limitations of existing enforcement methodologies and technologies.

It is generally unenforced. Police enforcement is generally conducted via motorcycle police lane-splitting, and most often this happens for stopped traffic at intersections rather than in-motion. Enforcement of vehicles at speed is difficult for Police operations, and requires more sophisticated equipment to conduct efficiently and safely such as Acusensus’s trailer solution.

4.  How does the solution work?

The Acusensus distracted driving enforcement system has been designed to give authorities a tool to drive behavioural change. Acusensus provides both fixed enforcement cameras and mobile trailer or vehicle mounted cameras. These cameras can be used to provide anywhere-anytime enforcement to drive behavioural change and reduce the prevalence of distracted driving.

A sensor system detects and records the presence and speed of all vehicles and a specialized camera system captures high-resolution evidence of phone use. The solution operates 24/7 in all weather conditions and for captures all vehicle speeds. The system hardware is compact and unobtrusive, permitting economical deployment on a wide range of pre-existing infrastructure.

Sophisticated algorithms automatically detect the driver and determine the likelihood of phone use. This detection can be performed in real time to assist Police operations.

Integral to the program is the privacy of data. In the automated solution licence plate data remains always encrypted and only viewable by the authority, and human reviewers are presented with images only of the drivers, not passengers or licence plates. Acusensus is also able to automatically blur out everything in extracted images bar the driver if required or requested.

5.  Are there alternative technologies currently in use?

Acusensus is not aware of any other live solutions. We are aware of the demonstration of video based solutions that lack night time performance and daytime glare suppression. On average a third of offences occur at night time. The quality of the evidence our systems generate is extremely high, exhibiting no motion blur, no glare and very high resolution still images zoomed to the right area of interest.

We are also aware of several jurisdictions such as Dubai and Saudi Arabia that claim to be enforcing illegal mobile phone use. However, we find that these jurisdictions have no ability to automatically detect phone use, rather they are examining speed and red-light offence images and if the driver is also shown to be using a mobile phone they may send a fine for that offence in addition to the original speed or red-light offence.

6.  How accurate is the solution?

The solution is designed and tested to capture over 95% of all illegal mobile phone offences. The solution has been trained and tested across millions of vehicle transits and manually verified to successfully detect at the highest accuracy levels.

Furthermore, the solution has self-monitoring features and an audit process that provide evidence of the on-going accuracy of the system.

Every candidate image of illegal mobile phone use is presented for efficient human review against the adjudication rules of the relevant authority.

7.  Are there other products on the market that do the same thing?

Our solution is patent-pending and we are unaware of any other 24/7 triggered windshield penetrating image capture and automated recognition systems. Acusensus has been exclusively selected in the world-first deployment of the technology through a competitive tender and head to head evaluation process.

8.  Why is the Acusensus enforcement solution world leading?

The Acusensus solution is truly 24/7, it was designed to operate at night time and then extended to daytime. Acusensus was particularly concerned about glare and reflections caused by sunlight, and specifically designed an imaging solution that eliminated these problems. In contrast, video based solutions rely explicitly on sunlight and struggle during periods of the day with high glare, and do not operate at night.

The Acusensus solution uses a sensor to reliably detect vehicles and it takes high resolution global shutter images with extremely fast exposure times. The system operates successfully on vehicles travelling up to 300km/h without motion blur and without distortion.

Acusensus also provides a complete end-to-end solution, comprising both the automated detection and the review service to filter out any images that don’t meet the authority’s definition of a prosecutable case of illegal mobile phone use. The solution utilizes very efficient cloud processing systems that are infinitely scalable. Furthermore, the solution has auditing in-built, tracking the performance and accuracy of reviewer staff.

With a team deeply experienced in providing automated road safety cameras, Acusensus understands the importance of privacy and data security. The original evidence is digitally signed and undergoes two encryption processes. Any images presented to reviewers show only the drivers, not passengers, and do not permit any view of the licence plate. Images are anonymised, with only the system being able to link the data together, and only the authority being able to open the evidence packages to get licence plate data to form the complete offence.

9.  What real-world testing has been completed, underway or planned?

As part of its ongoing R&D process, Acusensus has conducted countless trails of the technology throughout 2018 using its three mobile platforms (tripod, car mounted and trailer mounted). It has been engaged in a multi-month fixed site trial with one of the Australian state governments.

Acusensus has been selected by the government of NSW to deploy several pilot systems, and is also about to install its first fixed site overseas in India.

10.  How can it be deployed?

The solution can be deployed in either fixed or mobile configurations. Fixed sites can be pole mounted or gantry. For mobile sites we recommend a trailer based solution. We can provide either a totally automated solution in which offences are transmitted to a central office, or a solution to assist Police in which images are transmitted to a waiting intercept vehicle.

11.  What other functionality does the solution have?

In addition to distraction, our solution hardware can be used to enforce against other road safety problems such as speed, unregistered vehicles (ANPR) and seatbelt use.

12.   Who is Acusensus?

Acusensus was founded to provide solutions to major unaddressed road safety challenges. The company was founded in early 2018, has attracted seed investment and has been sponsored by the University of Melbourne’s Accelerator Program. Acusensus provides enforcement technology to assist road authorities and police drive behaviour change. 

Our very experienced team have dedicated much of their lives to improving road safety. Our team members have been involved in the rollout of most of the safety camera programmes in NSW, and in many other safety camera programmes globally.

We have put years of development effort into this solution to curb mobile phone distraction, and we have been singularly focussed on providing a solution to this problem as we believe it has been up to now one of the largest unaddressed challenges on our roads, contributing to a high proportion of road trauma, as much as 25%.

Acusensus has several other public safety products in the pipeline which we believe will contribute to further reductions in unnecessary deaths and injuries.

13.  How can I access further information?

For further information please email info@acusensus.com