Text Message From The Police: SLW DWN

from the beats-getting-pulled-over dept

Finland is certainly known for its widespread adoption of mobile phones, so it probably isn't a surprise that police there are looking at ways to use SMS text messaging to communicate with motorists. Apparently, they're trying to send messages to drivers for minor things like a broken taillight, rather than having to pull them over and hand them a written warning. The article is a bit confusing, because it says that that Finnish rules say any reprimand must be given on the spot, so it's not clear how the text messaging cops are getting away with it (unless they're pulling people over and then text messaging them -- which seems sort of pointless). The other thing the article notes is that police need to make sure that they're text messaging the right person -- and that it clearly identifies the message as being an official police communication. Of course, what they leave out (and it would seem like an important detail) is how they go about both of those things. How do the police even know who to text message? And, even assuming that they can somehow (how?) link up license plates to phone numbers, how can they be sure that the right person is driving the vehicle? Also, how long will it be before there's a story of a driver who gets into an accident while reading a text message from the cops? The whole story seems to raise a lot more questions than it answers. Maybe I'll text message the Finnish police for more details.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Ahoy, Nov 15th, 2005 @ 12:19pm

    No Subject Given

    I don't know about mobile SMS messages, but a way for other drivers and police to send text-based messages to other cars is long overdue. A simple LCD in the steering wheel would do the trick, and the messages could be sent by Bluetooth or some other mobile means.

    Oftentimes police want to deliver a simple message without initiating a formal traffic stop. The same thing goes for other drivers, you may want to tell you your lights are off, signal is on, smoke coming from your car, or that you're driving away with the gas pump. It can even be used for traffic niceties such as "thank you."

     

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  2.  
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    dan, Nov 15th, 2005 @ 12:34pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    I can think of a lot different uses than "traffic niceties." Something like this would be cool though if it allowed communication between drivers. For a long time I've been bothered that when I yell to another motorist, they probably cannot hear me. I would love to send them a nice "stay in your own lane you @#$!" message.

     

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  3.  
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    Bill, Nov 15th, 2005 @ 12:56pm

    well.....

    well.... does anyone else see the "promotion" of Road Rage here?????
    I mean, if youre able to give messages to people, after saying ^&%@#& to the guy who's driving 2" from your back bumper, he gets mad, replies, and you have a road rage incident, that otherwise probably would have been dropped!?!?!?!

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2005 @ 1:05pm

    Re: well.....

    I think this will lessen road rage. Maybe if people can say "stay in your lane" or "stop tailgating me," there will be fewer obscene gestures. It's all about accuracy and precision in communication. When your means are limited to shouting and gestures, miscommunication and escalation are more likely.

     

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  5.  
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    Bill, Nov 15th, 2005 @ 1:15pm

    Re: well.....

    well, I know for example, that if someone messaged me, saying "stay in your lane" - I'd tell them to mind thier own business, as they have no authority to tell me what to do, wether I am guilty or not. - a police officer, that's different, but you'd get a bunch of people thinking they are better than everyone else, telling everyone how to drive, and that would further my anger... and I don't believe I'm alone. (granted I live in a city with bad traffic problems and congestion)

     

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  6.  
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    The Other Mike, Nov 15th, 2005 @ 1:22pm

    Re: well.....

    I can't say I agree with the fewer incidents of road rage idea, but anything is possible.

    The real question is do you want them typing/reading a message at 60/mph and 6 inches from your bumper? If s/he is already doing something that you feel puts you in danger how is adding one more task for them improving that situation?

    Personally, others cell phone usage on the road already cost me one car. I would rather not have to replace my current one.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2005 @ 1:23pm

    Re: well.....

    You dont have to listen to what they say; I'm just saying that a text-based message is vastly preferable to the middle finger in that situation. besides, you could make the argument that when a car starts drifting into their lane, it is their "business" :)

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2005 @ 1:27pm

    Re: well.....

    How is a short sentence on a steering wheel any more dangerous than the dozens of road signs, billboards, road markings, radio dial, or other "distractions"? If its the location youre concerned about, how about a translucent projection onto the dashboard or windshield? It could even be above the 180-degree field of vision, just like an actual road sign. With cell phones, it's not the act of talking or even holding the phone,that is distracting, but rather the dialing which requires one to look down, away from the road.

     

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  9.  
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    Bill, Nov 15th, 2005 @ 1:27pm

    Re: well.....

    I agree wiht you that the general idea "could" be nice in certain circumstances, I just know that not everyone is nice people, and not everyone are smart enough, or have enough morale, to admit when they are doing something wrong, I could see a big opportunity for misuse...
    =====
    However, I do agree, that in certain circumstances, it could be used and would be a benefit

     

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  10.  
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    Aaron Friel, Nov 15th, 2005 @ 1:37pm

    Embedded displays in windshields

    I know it's a "From The Futar" kind of technology, but it wouldn't be half bad if we could get rid of the HUD entirely (or almost entirely) with a display that would be able to tell you things accurately. And once you have the sort of technology that allows the windshield to display pertinent information, certain other benefits can come down the road as technology improves... Such as information about the speed of the cars around you, the distance to any objects near you, etc.

    And why does communication between vehicles have to be text? That's a pretty sorry idea, esp. if they have to use a cell phone to type it! And voice to text technology is continually improving.

    *shrug* Just something I expect to see within 30 yeas.

     

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  11.  
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    The Other Mike, Nov 15th, 2005 @ 1:40pm

    Re: well.....

    You have an angry person 6 inches from your car at lethal speeds and you want to enable them to type a message to you at the same time? Think about how much more complicated constructing a sentence is than dialing a number. You are either young or very sheltered. Also look at the laws banning cell phone usage on the road and tell me that people find more distractions acceptable.

    Police usage I can see though. I would much prefer a short message via some official means rather than being pulled over for 15 minutes in the cold or rain.

     

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  12.  
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    The Other Mike, Nov 15th, 2005 @ 1:44pm

    Re: Embedded displays in windshields

    Aaron, Cadillac has played with the kind of windshield stuff you are talking about - nightvision in particular. A little poking around about it should turn up some interesting stuff.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2005 @ 2:04pm

    Re: well.....

    my paintball gun lets me select from a list of about 50 pre-entered text phrases and send them to my team via bluetooth, I see no reason that this would work any differently in a car.

     

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  14.  
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    LordLandon, Nov 15th, 2005 @ 2:12pm

    To those claiming distractions, and road rage....

    Does everything with a screen need a keyboard?

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 15th, 2005 @ 2:20pm

    Re: To those claiming distractions, and road rage.

    exactly.

    You can use voice to text to input, and even have it read to you if you dont want to read it on the other end

     

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  16.  
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    Jared Anderson, Nov 15th, 2005 @ 2:34pm

    Message

    What if they simply dont look at the message?

     

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  17.  
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    LordLandon, Nov 15th, 2005 @ 3:00pm

    Re: Message

    What if they simply don't look at their speeding ticket?

     

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  18.  
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    Anarchy_Creator, Nov 15th, 2005 @ 3:01pm

    Forget SMS, And LCD Screens In Your Steering Wheel

    They should just start installing PA(Public Announcement) systems in everyone's cars.
    All you need is an old CB Radio, and another horn hookup, or alternatively you could disconnect your old horn as it would no longer be required.
    *sigh*
    I can picture it now.
    All the happy motorists driving along happily when all of a sudden some @$$clown cuts you off only to drive slower then he was in the lane next to you that he left in such a hurry.
    Oh noes what ever will you do?
    Honk your horn?
    Flip him the bird?
    Shout obscenities from your rolled down window hoping he can understand you?
    No.
    Simply turn on your standard CB radio/PA system and shout obscenities through the hood of your car at a volume that he, along with most of the other cars on the road will surely hear.
    It not only allows you to tell that @$$%^&* that what he has done upsets you, but warns other cars around that the car in front of you is an enemy, and should be destroyed at all cost.
    Long Live Twisted Metal Video Games!

     

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  19.  
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    MightyMike, Nov 15th, 2005 @ 3:10pm

    Directly to the vehicle

    With newer vehicles such as the BMW which dials home via some communication device, this sounds possible. Via a text message..sounds like things need to be ironed out on that one.

    Why get rid of pulling over and ticketing? Don't they need the revenue?

     

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  20.  
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    someone who lived in Finland, Nov 15th, 2005 @ 5:00pm

    No Subject Given

    How do they find out who to text? Simple: 2 messages.

    You can text a licence plate to find out who owns the car (the database is online). You can then text that name/location to the online phone book and get back their mobile number.

    I know that was possible in 2003 when I did it for my own car in Helsinki

     

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  21.  
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    LordLandon, Nov 15th, 2005 @ 6:45pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    But the car driver is not always the car owner, you could've let a freind borrow it, or it could be your spouce or kid driving it...a text to the owner wouldnt help too much if the owner's nowhere near his/her car at that moment.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Bark Muckman, May 25th, 2006 @ 11:19am

    Almost in the US

    PlateWire allows users to do something similar to this. Using drivers license plates, individuals can "Flag" bad drivers as well as "Award" good ones.

     

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