Pensioner fined for using 'mobile phone' after traffic camera detection

Jet Sanchez
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Camera footage shows a man holding something resembling a mobile phone. Photo / Nine Network Australia

Camera footage shows a man holding something resembling a mobile phone. Photo / Nine Network Australia

In a recent incident that's been garnering attention in Australia, Frank Singh, a 77-year-old pensioner from New South Wales, was fined AUD$362 (NZ$386) for using a mobile phone while driving. 

However, Singh claimed he had never owned or used a mobile phone.

The charge was based on images taken by a mobile phone detection camera on the Pacific Motorway, which showed Singh holding an object that was mistaken for a phone.

Singh believed the object was actually his wallet.

Photo / Nine Network Australia
Photo / Nine Network Australia

“It looks like I’m guilty on it, but I’m not. I don’t own one. I don’t use one,” Frank explained to Australian television. “I thought what in the boody hell is this all about? I’ve never owned a mobile phone. I’ve never used a mobile phone. I thought ‘what a load of sh*t”.

Legal battle

77-year-old Frank Singh Australia
77-year-old Frank Singh / Photo / Nine Network Australia

Despite the risk of incurring substantial legal fees, Singh, with the help of his friend Kishori Breeze, who himself owned a mobile phone, challenged the fine. 

The initial appeal to the local tax office was rejected, compelling Singh to take the matter to court. In an unexpected turn of events, officials retracted the fine without explanation and informed Singh he was no longer required to appear in court, providing a sigh of relief to the pensioner.

Technological implications

This case raises significant concerns about the reliability of mobile phone detection technology. It highlights the possibility of such technology misinterpreting other objects as mobile phones, questioning its accuracy. 

While technology has advanced considerably, this incident underlines the necessity of human oversight in interpreting such detections.

Should New Zealand use similar tech?

While this incident occurred in Australia, it's noteworthy that New Zealand currently doesn't employ similar detection cameras or technology for enforcing mobile phone usage laws while driving. 

This incident might spark discussions in the country about the adoption and reliability of such technologies in traffic law enforcement.

The case of Frank Singh serves as a reminder that while technology can aid law enforcement, it is not infallible. 

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