Inflated petrol prices and mercy visits to the vet with chocolate-poisoned canines aside, one downside of Easter is a blip in the road toll despite the usual blitzes on drink driving and speeding.

Illegal mobile usage can be equally hazardous but harder to detect – until now. Road safety tech group Acusensus (ASX:ACE) is coming to the rescue of the overworked highway patrol with its world-leading cameras that can detect mobile miscreants, including in wet or dark conditions.

The only tech IPO so far this year, Acusensus listed on January 11 after raising $40 million and is gathering momentum – below the speed limit of course – here and abroad.

Acusensus has $137 million in multi-year contracts for mobile phone and speed compliance in NSW and Queensland and for mobiles in the ACT.

The company also has established operations in the US and the UK, with pilot projects across five continents in a market estimated to be worth $1.76 billion a year.

Acusensus is the brainchild of its CEO Alexander Jannink, who was motivated to devise the tech after a cyclist friend was killed by a mobile-distracted driver.

He says most road deaths are caused by “illegal or really stupid behaviour” – such as that Instagram post that can’t wait five minutes.

“We are addressing the underlying causes of two out of three road deaths,” Jannink says.

The art of mobile use detection lies in the height and configuration of the cameras, which are higher than a speed camera and able to see though heavily-tinted windscreens.

There’s an artificial intelligence (AI) angle, in terms of handling the captured images and improving the ability of the cameras to detect offenders.

The trouble is, the pictures are automatically deleted because the driver has done no wrong. When they have offended, the “prosecutable evidence” is retained only for long enough to send the pics to the authorities.

“But every page that goes through the system has a data fingerprint and that can be enough to nudge the models in the right direction,” Jannink says.

With the help of a federal grant, Acusensus and Griffith University are working on AI-based methods to detect alcohol or drug impaired drivers by their behaviour.

Under this “heads up, real time” approach to detection, a camera detects an erratic vehicle. The image is sent to a police unit stationed up the road – and that driver is prioritised for testing rather than the abstemious vicar in a Morris Minor behind it.

“I can’t go into all the things we are looking at but the obvious ones are external control of the car such as lane and speed adherence and reaction times,” Jannink says.

Acusensus currently has 88 units across five contracts. In the December (first) half the company reported revenue of $19.8 million and a $93,000 net profit, compared with a $900,000 loss previously and prospectus forecasts of a $250,000 deficit.

The company expects to generate $40 million for the full year to June 2023 and to beat its prospectus forecast of earnings before interest tax depreciation amortisation of $3.1 million.

Acusensus says illegal phone usage in NSW had fallen six-fold since the company started operating there, with fatalities per 100,000 trips falling by 20 per cent.

Acusensus is redolent of Redflex, which listed in the 1990s on the back of its then cutting-edge speed camera technology. Redflex became embroiled in a US corruption scandal and was acquired by the Arizona based Verra Mobility in 2021.

Conceivably, Acusensus could be rendered redundant by driverless vehicles. But that revolution looks decades away and for the time being the most dangerous part of a car is the nut attached to the steering wheel.

This story does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.