NSW will join Queensland by activating seatbelt-spotting technology on mobile phone detection cameras from 1 July 2024.

Unlike other technology rollouts, there will be no grace period and the cameras will start issuing fines immediately.

The fine for not wearing a seatbelt in NSW is $387 and three demerit points (or six demerit points during double-demerit periods).

The fine for handling a mobile phone while driving in NSW is $387 and five demerit points (or 10 demerit points during double-demerit periods).

In a school zone, mobile phone fines increase to $514 in NSW.

In Queensland, drivers who use a mobile phone illegally are fined $1161 and four demerit points.

Seatbelt offences also attract a $1161 fine and four demerit points in the Sunshine State.

Authorities in NSW noted wearing a seatbelt in a moving vehicle has been compulsory since 1971, but data shows 150 people died while not wearing a seatbelt in the five years from 2019 to 2023.

“On average, 15 per cent of deaths on NSW roads every year still involve seatbelt non-usage, including 36 deaths last year, NSW authorities said.

Queensland became the first jurisdiction in the world to start issuing camera-detected seatbelt fines last year.

Now NSW will be the second jurisdiction in the world to do so.

“Unlike when other new enforcement technologies have come into effect, there will be no grace period or warning letters after the NSW Parliament voted against starting seatbelt detection cameras in warning mode when enabling legislation was passed last year,” said a statement from Transport for NSW.

“Photos released from testing of the cameras show a small but persistent percentage of drivers – and some passengers – continue to flout the law and wear their seatbelt incorrectly, including with the sash below the arm.”

Many motorists may not be aware that not fitting the seatbelt properly across your body attracts the same fine as not wearing a seatbelt at all.

Transport for NSW said: “Every dollar raised by seatbelt cameras will go back into road safety.”

Other road safety measures introduced by road safety authorities over the past 12 months include:

  • A demerit point trial to encourage motorists who maintain a clean record over 12 months to have a demerit point removed from their driving record;
  • Removing a loophole to force all motorists driving on a foreign licence to convert to a NSW licence within six months after noticing a spike in offences among this group of drivers;
  • Doubling roadside enforcement sites used for mobile speed cameras, with the addition of 2700 new locations where a camera can be deployed.

Authorities said despite more than 50 years of seatbelt enforcement, on average more than 10,000 people a year are still fined by NSW Police for not wearing a seatbelt.

“In the last five years, about 85 per cent of the deaths and 76 per cent of the serious injuries that occurred in crashes where someone wasn’t wearing a seatbelt happened in country NSW,” said Jenny Aitchison, Minister for Regional Transport and Roads, in a media statement.

“Driving in the country brings with it different challenges to city driving – longer distances are often covered on higher speed roads and we know that although country residents make up about a third of the NSW population they sadly make up around two thirds of deaths on NSW roads.

“The start of enforcement of seatbelt non-compliance by our mobile phone detection camera program will also reach regional roads – nobody is above the law and we want to see every single person wear a seatbelt and wear it correctly every single trip.  We cannot (overstate) how important wearing a seatbelt is to saving your life if the worst happens and you’re in a crash.”