Why It Helps To Understand Math: Driver Proves Speed Camera Lied

from the put-those-skills-to-good-use dept

We've covered the problems with speed cameras multiple times in the past, including the one that accused a brick wall of traveling at 58 MPH or the one that clocked a car at an astounding 480 MPH. Of course, those are obviously wrong. However, much more problematic are speed cameras that are off in a way that could be reasonable. That's much more difficult to prove -- though, it helps if you understand a bit of math. The Raw Feed points us to a story of an engineer who was able to use the photos from the speed camera itself to prove it nearly tripled his speed from 18 MPH to 46 MPH in a 30 MPH zone (using the distance between road markers and the elapsed time between two photos). He then tried to prove this in court, but officials wouldn't produce the photos in court (it's not clear how he had the photos to figure out the problem, but didn't have them to present in court himself). The court tossed out the case for "lack of evidence" over the missing photos and the guy got an apology -- but he's still fighting. He wants it on record that the case was dismissed for it being a "false prosecution" rather than just the "lack of evidence" because he's afraid that these types of cases happen all the time to people who are unable to prove their innocence.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Renegade Mini, Dec 29th, 2005 @ 1:42pm

    New Solution...

    Speed cam solution: 1 balloon, 1 can of paint, 1 good throwing arm... you figure out the rest.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Joe Krahn, Dec 29th, 2005 @ 1:43pm

    The law should require that conclusive pictures ar

    I thought that the purpose of having multiple pictures is specifically to prove the actual speed by distance travelled in a given amount of time. In fact, it should be required by law for anyone charged for speeding from a camera to be given a copy of the photographs.

    Germany has used automated speeding cameras for quite a while. It seems that their equipment is more accurate than ours. They are also quite strict. Only a few MPH over the limit gets recorded. They send you a bill in the mail with your picture attached.

     

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  3.  
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    Andrew Strasser, Dec 29th, 2005 @ 1:45pm

    Relation to speed traps...

    My boss at bteradio.com, Greg, when I worked there said the best way to get out of a speeding ticket was to have their logs pulled on the last maintenance on their guns. Then you could prove beyond a reson of a doubt that their guns had not been calibrated soon enough in more than most cases that they could possibly be in-phase.

    This does normally cost you legal fees and you'd need an electronics expert to prove that they couldn't prove beyond reasonable doubt. Better than points on your license though.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Grant, Dec 29th, 2005 @ 2:04pm

    Re: Relation to speed traps...

    The easiest way to do it, in the US anyway, is to throw the ticket out and force them to serve you with papers, it is the only way they can prove you received it. Or register the car you drive in your spouses name, they get the ticket and go to the police department and say it isn't them. They can't force the her to give you up as the person, case is dropped.
    Not that I would ever do any of these things, I would never speed, it is just wrong :)

     

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  5.  
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    Ngtmagicks, Dec 29th, 2005 @ 2:13pm

    Re: The law should require that conclusive picture

    Or like in Mesa here just bring up that the supplier of the cameras had an issue with the PD maintance crew adjusted the cameras out of spec....

     

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  6.  
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    Steven, Dec 29th, 2005 @ 2:34pm

    Re: New Solution...

    Was thinking of trying that... The red light running cameras work, but the photo bucket trucks have a guy sitting in there eatting donuts so he'll bust ya for assaulting an officer and rodney king someone's donkey.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2005 @ 4:06pm

    never trust a radar

    radar guns have a fatal flaw as well, its the lock button the officer uses to show you your speed, how long was it locked?

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Mark, Dec 29th, 2005 @ 7:24pm

    Re: New Solution...

    Around here, speedcams are mounted in vans, with a police officer monitoring the proceedings from inside...that paint-balloon trick will get you a stouter citation that doing 11 over...(I'd prefer to fog the camera window with matt clearcoat, in the dark, staying below mirror level...or, cold galvanizing over the radar window)

     

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  9.  
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    Alex, Dec 29th, 2005 @ 8:29pm

    Brand of Speed Camera?

    Does anyone know what brand this camera is?

     

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  10.  
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    Ed, Dec 30th, 2005 @ 5:07am

    Re: Brand of Speed Camera?

    What probably happened was that the photos were part of the legal file. The accused had access to the file but couldn’t take possession of the photos. He figured out from the photos that he could prove the radar wrong. When the radar company got wind of this they asked for the photos and then they disappeared. After all, you wouldn’t want anyone proving in court that the devices that you provided to a government under a lucrative contract were faulty.

     

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  11.  
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    hautedawg, Dec 30th, 2005 @ 6:42am

    Re: The law should require that conclusive picture

    I am NOT an engineer, but rather a dumb ol' country boy. However, it is MY understanding that we are allowed to face our accusors. When something mechanical is the accusor, it is MY belief that every test, every service call and all information pertaining to this mechanical finger pointer be made to be in court. Much as I understand that if I recieve a traffic ticket the officer must be in cout, the mechanical unit and the "care takers" of said unit should be held to the same standard.

    Again, I'm just a dumb ol' country boy, but we all know mechanical/technical "things" fail, and if it is costing me money in tickets and insurance, it dang well better be able to prove it's case against me!

     

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  12.  
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    Cr_p, Dec 30th, 2005 @ 8:30am

    Re: New Solution...

    speed cams are useless..

    at the intersection where an 81 year old man ran a red light blindsiding my fathers car, the speed camera "was unable to catch it". From the time the old guy saw the yellow light, we figured that he was about 400 yards away from the stop light or something. we went out, timed the lights, and did the math to find his velocity, and other factors. In court however, after both cars were totaled the cop wasn't able to present his ticket to my dad for "impeding traffic" or some silly thing.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 30th, 2005 @ 11:06am

    Re: The law should require that conclusive picture

    As far as I know it is still in use in Germany. There was one around the bend on the autobahn from Heidelberg. We used to miss it narrowly. It was right around the bend after the overpass.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 30th, 2005 @ 1:19pm

    Re: The law should require that conclusive picture

    My physics teacher actually got out of a speeding ticket by showing that it was physically impossible for the radar gun to have correctly recorded the speed that it did, given the angle the police officer used it at.

    And people say you'll never use that stuff in real life...

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Bob, Dec 30th, 2005 @ 3:43pm

    Ethics

    It happens far more frequently than the public realizes.

    It's an easy matter to get a camera to lie, or the interpretation thereof. Most are more willing to take the word of a piece of electronic equipment over that of a person, even when that piece of equipment is far more susceptible to coercion.

    But why would anyone want a camera to misinterpret what it sees? It all boils down to the money it can bring in; if you can convince the public a device is trustworthy, and you find a way to secretly manipulate that device, then you obviously found a goldmine. No one will question it, and your agency/department will become very rich indeed.

    It's a fairly nefarious, and common, practice. If an agency can increase its profitability, even at the expense of the truth, then it will do so. Just because it may be taxpayer funded does not automatically impart a halo of ethics; it may operate just as sleazy as an unethical private enterprise would.

     

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  16.  
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    Mousky, Dec 30th, 2005 @ 6:20pm

    Re: Ethics

    Inside the District's Red Lights

    This is an awesome look at red light cameras and how it is all about the money and not safety.

    If police and politicans were really worried about reducing collisions at intersections all they would have to do is increase the length of the yellow light by about 1.5 seconds. But that is not sexy enough for the media and does not create revenue for the municipality.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 3rd, 2006 @ 2:22pm

    Re: Ethics

    Not only is not sexy, it also significantly decreases the throughput of each intersection. While red light cameras may not be a great idea either, they're definitely a better alternative.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Brad Green, Jan 13th, 2006 @ 7:31pm

    Re: Ethics

    Ha, you should see the intersection near my house. Everyone who lives nearly can see that it runs for about 5 minutes in one direction before switching the other way for 30 seconds. Both roads are well traveled, and the road with the long signal clears out after 30 to 60 seconds, never longer. The appropriate action here would have been to do a traffic study, and change the light timing, but the govmt realized they could make money if they put a camera there, because anyone who knows the light is more likely to run it than wait. Its soooo slow that it is quicker to take a right at the light, turn left into the shopping center at the corner, drive through the entire shopping center, and take a right out to get past the light. Its just wrong, and its clearly govmt greed overruling public safety

     

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  19.  
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    w carr, Jan 14th, 2006 @ 10:00am

    Re: Relation to speed traps...

    Typical redneck mentality. Hell why not just shoot the camera, Billy Bob.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Dano, Jan 14th, 2006 @ 4:58pm

    Re: Relation to speed traps...

    If i could get the job done without being ID'd...I'd shoot the damn thing. I got caught by a red light cam in maryland. Right on the ticket it says that "no points will be addded to you licens, and the insurance company cannot increase you rate because of this." It is a shake down for money...no ifs and or butts about it.

    If the local governments are hard up for money, why not earn it like the rest of us do.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Dave, Feb 4th, 2006 @ 4:46am

    Police Radar Problems

    Please visit www.ghsclassaction.com, pa.ghsclassaction.com and fightghs.com if you would like to learn about the ongoing problems with the GHS handheld stationary radar guns used in many states and particularly about the alleged cover-up by the Pennsylvania State Police.
    If you have been ticketed for speeding in Pennsylvania and if radar was the speed-timing device used, then you need to know about RadarGate.
    Thanks!

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    dave, Jun 12th, 2006 @ 10:17am

    pigs

    fuck the mother fuckin po pos they can suck my dick they have been looking 4 me for 3 years and have no clue where i am

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Andrew Milner, Aug 24th, 2006 @ 4:40am

    Driving conditions comparison

    FYI there are almost no speed cameras in Japan and the car is insured rather than the driver. So 20-year-olds can get a turbo Impreza or Skyline GT-R insured no worries. However, the roads are far more crowded than UK, the road network is borderline third-world in many ways (often no pavement), the pedestrian crossings are on the intersection, pedestrians seem to have a death wish because they step into the road without looking, and drivers have short arms and reactions like a dead rat. Cyclist come at you on the wrong side at night with no lights, and scooter riders habitually pass on the inside. Always fun to go to Yokosuka where the Yanks have a base. Them driving their big left hooker cars on the "wrong side" for them is an accident going somewhere to happen. So many of these scooter kids have bit the tarmac they are actually starting to be a bit more careful. Survival of the fittest, or in this case non-survival of the thickest. Pure Darwin. So as Minister of Transport, what would you do? Right, ultra low speed limits. But this is on the assumption that reducing deaths and injuries on the road is the over-riding priority. How to reduce traffic accidents, deaths and injuries to zero. Introduce a blanket speed limit of zero. At some point people are going to take responsibility for their own actions.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    TZoe, Jan 5th, 2007 @ 7:38pm

    Re: Re: Brand of Speed Camera?

    me thinks you may have a point...idea - check to see if the mfg of the camera also makes and/or programs voting machines for the U.S.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Az, Oct 26th, 2007 @ 11:56pm

    I dont care about the fines as much.
    But a mechanical, non subjective device should not be able to deduct points from ones licence.
    Many a time friends of mine have been booked by cameras for speeding out of dangerous(or atleast potentially) situations.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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