Be careful what you do in your car, because someone could be watching. In Australia, police are now using powerful cameras that can see details from nearly a half-mile away in order to catch drivers who talk or text behind the wheel. "These cameras are capable of actually looking into the vehicle as someone is driving toward them at a distance, before (the driver) can actually see the officer," says RayHunt, President of the Houston Police Officers Union. "They can see through the windshield and tell whether or not the driver is distracted."
Law enforcement officials in Australia are already touting these cameras as a way to crack down on all forms of distracted driving, from talking or texting, to applying make-up or eating while driving. The goal of cutting down on distracted driving and making the roads safer may be noble, but there could be legal issues if these cameras go into widespread use here in America. "I would guess a judge and/or jury would have to look at the video that was recorded when the officers were using that camera, in order to determine whether or not the person was distracted and using their cell phone to text or talk," says Hunt. The cameras would also likely lead to legal challenges on privacy grounds, similar to what has happened in recent years with red light cameras.
Hunt tells KTRH that there is another big obstacle to these cameras becoming widespread here--cost. "I guess the technology would be great if you have an unlimited budget, but I don't know any department that has that," he says. "I'm not convinced that this kind of technology should be used, when we (in Houston) are unable to replace the tasers we have, and have vehicles with over 100,000 miles." Houston Police also have no need for new tools to catch distracted drivers. "There are some cities in Texas that prohibit texting while driving, but Houston is not one of them," says Hunt.