Unauthorised drivers in East Gippsland will find it much harder to flout the law now that a local highway patrol car has been equipped with Victoria Police’s new automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) system.
The technology allows police to detect drivers who are unregistered, suspended, disqualified and unlicensed as well as those people driving a stolen motor car or one fitted with stolen number plates.
Four camera units are fitted to the BMW highway patrol car, two at the front and two capturing the vision from behind.
Each camera unit is fitted with two lenses enabling the cameras to automatically capture vehicles from all directions.
Leading Senior Constable Russell Hodge said the cameras automatically photograph unregistered vehicles and send the information to the patrol car’s iPad.
“It will certainly increase our detection rate by capturing multiple unregistered vehicles per shift,” Snr Const Hodge said.
For those who are unlicensed, suspended or disqualified the ANPR system will also alert police to that information.
ANPR scans number plates and matches them against a database of vehicles of interest.
The East Gippsland Highway Patrol vehicle is also fitted with in-car video to record audio and visual evidence that can be used in court.
The car is one of 221 ANPR units that will be deployed across the state over the next two years.
A second BMW 5 series sedan, fitted with the same technology, is due to arrive in Bairnsdale to replace an outdated Holden Commodore police vehicle in the near future.
Road Policing Command Assistant Commissioner Stephen Leane said the technology would make it much easier to detect and remove people who should not be on the roads.
Assistant Commissioner Leane said a study of fatal collisions in 2016 found that unauthorised drivers were at fault in 16 per cent of those accidents.
“The same study found that around one in five injury collisions involving an unregistered vehicle also involved an unauthorised driver.”
Snr Constable Hodge said the BMW patrol vehicles contained features “applicable to rural highway patrol”.
“The car has a thermal camera and can distinguish a human being from a trash can,” he said.
He says the “adaptive headlights” are capable of detecting movement in roadside bushes and indicate if there’s a kangaroo or other wildlife about to bounce out onto the roadside.
Victoria Police Highway Patrol will eventually replace their Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore V8 cars with the more sophisticated turbo diesel BMW 5 series.
In Europe, the use of BMW sedans for highway patrol duties is common practice.
Victoria Police will also experiment with the Volkswagen Passat wagon.
The divergence into European vehicles is a result of the end of manufacturing of Holden and Ford in Australia.
PICTURED: Leading Senior Constable Russell Hodge with one of the new BMW police highway patrol vehicles fitted with automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras on the roofline.