Man Beats Speeding Ticket After Pointing Out It Was For 50 mph Faster Than His Car Could Go

from the physics-101 dept

Red light cameras and speed cameras continue to stir up controversy as police and local governments increase their use. The general claim is that they're used to make roads safer, but scams like in Italy, where people have been accused of shortening yellow lights in order to catch more offenders, do little to quell the idea that revenue generation is the real goal. The good ol' radar gun is generally pretty widely accepted by people, even though on more than one occasion, they've proven fallible, too. The latest story comes out of England, where a guy has gotten out of a ticket for driving 173 miles per hour -- after pointing out that his unmodified car's top speed is 127. He admitted to driving 105 in a 50 mph zone, but wanted to avoid the jail time a conviction for driving at the higher speed would bring. In this case, rather than technology fouling up, it looks like human error: the guy was busted with a time-and-distance device, which measures the time it takes a car to travel between two points. Police officers have to press a button or take some other action when the car passes the points -- opening up tremendous scope for error, particularly at high speeds.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    Weird Harold's former #5 fan, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 10:59am

    The car's flux capacitor engaged at 88 mph and moved him forward in time a few minutes, thus making him arrive at point B sooner than he otherwise would have. Since the time-and-distance device doesn't account for time travel, it clocked him at 173 mph.

    Do they really measure speed in mph over there rather than kph? I thought they hated the Imperial system.

     

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      R. Miles, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 11:04am

      Re:

      But you're forgetting time travel doesn't cross vertical planes, thus, the car couldn't move forward if traveling in time.

      Watch the movie again, and you'll notice the DeLorean doesn't move forward until the car hits the time plane.
      :)

      If I had to guess, the time-and-distance machine was built by Diebold.
      :D

       

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        Matt T., Mar 25th, 2009 @ 2:51pm

        Re: Re:

        But if he had actually gone back in time by a few seconds, he would still reach the end sooner, making it seem as if he was traveling faster.

         

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      Marty, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 11:14am

      Re:

      But Doc, how do they get the 1.21 gigawatts?

      Nope, They still use the Imperical English System. You have to go to France for kph.

       

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      Dave, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 12:04pm

      Re:

      They created the Imperial system...

       

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      Bowen88, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 12:46pm

      Re: mph over "there"

      Yes, they do measure speed in mph, as distances for the motorway is given in miles. However, if you hike the trails the distances are in kilometres.

      You would buy petrol in litres not gallons (imperial, not US). Mileage is in mpg, not litres per 100 kilometres.

      All these conversions caused the "human" error in determining the speed.

      I hope this clears things up.

       

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    Weird Harold's former #5 fan, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 11:08am

    Good point. He'd have to have actually gone backward in time by a few minutes to make it look to an outside observer (the time-and-distance device) like he was traveling faster than he really was.

     

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      winterfreez, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 11:18am

      Re: Then again...

      ...If he had traveled forward (or backward in time) and upon returning had the flux capacitors engage at a point that was (spatially) ahead of where he previously leaped and returned to the exact moment that he left then the car would appear to jump forward instantly thus fooling the time and distance machine...

      I sure hope that was worth the storke I think I just gave myself...

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 11:09am

    So your article starts out by talking about red light and speed cameras and how they are bad, but the meat of the article (in intention, not in devotion of space) talks about how some cops couldn't press buttons quick enough?

     

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    johnny, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 11:22am

    he was going so fast....

    that the light reflecting off/from his car was red-shifted and so the police assumed he was speeding.

     

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    another mike, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 11:32am

    avoiding jail time

    Traveling at twice the posted speed limit would still get him thrown in jail here. At three and a half times, they make you hit the button on the car-crusher.

    /the engines, they canna take it anymore, Cap'n!

     

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    Nick Nack, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 11:33am

    Us English people

    Yeah we do still use imperial for somethings. Including measuring ones height. And we do milk (and beer) in pints. And we hate the Euro.

    Basically we've always gotta be different!

     

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    Docc, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 11:43am

    Run for it Marty!

    Actually, perhaps he STOPPED time, then moved the car forward, THEN re-engaged time.

    Hiro does it all the time! =)

     

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    cseiter (profile), Mar 25th, 2009 @ 11:59am

    re:he was going so fast

    Yeah, but he still wasn't going fast enough to go plaid.

     

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    Eponymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 12:12pm

    Good point missed here

    "So your article starts out by talking about red light and speed cameras and how they are bad, but the meat of the article (in intention, not in devotion of space) talks about how some cops couldn't press buttons quick enough?"

    Carlo, this was a bit of a bait and switch for you. No sense even mentioning the red light cams here. Or, for that matter, no sense mentioning the radar gun, as neither technology was employed in this case. The headline is still fine, but the lead-in to the story itself suggests something that isn't there.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 12:27pm

    Lucky

    He's lucky he doesn't live in my area because judges here don't care about reality.

    I know of someone here who got a ticket for a speed her vehicle (a minivan) just wasn't capable of. She actually got a court-certified expert witness (forensic engineer, PE, PhD) to go to court to testify that her vehicle was not physically capable of what the officer claimed. After listening to the testimony, the judge just bellowed out "Inadmissible! Guilty! Next case!" And that was that. No explanation at all.

    Now obviously, to have found in her favor would have made the officer who gave the ticket look bad and that wouldn't have been politically correct. Political expediency seems to be far more important than the truth for some judges so this guy was lucky.

     

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    NullOp, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 1:10pm

    Revenue Generation?

    Gee, ya think the nitwits in charge MIGHT just try to screw ya outta' a few bucks, lire or pounds? Do 'ya, do ya? Hell, yeah! There ain't hardly anyone stepped into public office without the thought of $$$ on their mind! Either to line the public coffers or their own pockets or both!

     

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    joe, Mar 25th, 2009 @ 4:23pm

    Maybe the cop who had to press the button traveled in time causing him to press it a the wrong moment.

     

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    DC, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 2:48am

    Bowen88 said:
    "Yes, they do measure speed in mph, as distances for the motorway is given in miles. However, if you hike the trails the distances are in kilometres."

    All distances on UK signs are in miles.
    "Trails" are typically called footpaths in the UK; in the rare events they have distance information on signs, they use miles (though some may additionally have km scale for benefit of visitors from mainland Europe).
    All road signs use miles.

    All maps have km and mile scales - but just about everyone in the UK uses imperial NOT metric for discussing distance (only exceptions would be UK residents who recently migrated from a "metric country" and still in mindset of using metric - which I guess would be the same for immigrants to the US)

    Imperial is still in use in pubs (bars). Beer is sold in pints (or 1/2 pints) and we have an archaic measure called the gill, fractions of which are still used for some spirit sales in pubs.

    For those unaware the UK is one of the few places to drive on the left hand side of the road

    Dave - UK (Great Britain) resident.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 7:02am

    The UK is truly a great country full of nice people. Who else would go to the trouble to paint on the streets "Look left" for us stupid Americans who look the wrong way when crossing their streets? The drivers even tend to slow down when they see Americans approaching the street looking the wrong way? Wearing white soxs, sneakers and cameras might not be cool, but it does tend to alert Brits that we are about to walk out right in front of them.

    God save the Queen!

     

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    Chargone (profile), Mar 26th, 2009 @ 7:12am

    other places that drive on the left [from memory]:

    New Zealand, Australia, Japan... I'm sure there are more.
    it amuses me to note that these are all island nations. [well, Australia is debatable, but note how there is only One country?]

    New Zealand, incidentally, uses metrics for everything... Except: if you ask what someone's height is, most people will Still give it in feet and rough inches, despite the fact that we measure and record such things in centimeters. well, that I've noticed anyway.

    it strikes me that i don't actually know what the penalties for speeding here are beyond fines, or even if there are any.
    not that this matters. i don't drive anyway.

    as for cunning ways around the impossibility of moving that fast: another option is some form of teleportation device. though i suppose that's about the same as just stopping time, now that i think about it.

    fear the ramble.

     

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    Gene Cavanaugh, Mar 26th, 2009 @ 9:11am

    Speed determining devices for revenue enhancement

    This was a long time ago, and in the Deep South, but ....

    I was ticketed by an officer with a radar gun. I was driving
    in a dense group of cars, it was a divided highway with a 75 foot median, the officer could "see" me for only 1-2 seconds due to trees in the median strip, he was driving the other way at an undetermined speed, I had glanced at my speedometer (which at that time I checked regularly) and I was well below the speed limit, but the officer claimed his radar was accurate to plus or minus 1/2 mph, and the judge immediately pronounced me guilty.

     

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    Chris Tyler, Mar 28th, 2009 @ 3:42am

    while we're on the subject...

    why don't we all go sign a petition so this whole speeding issue goes away one day

    http://www.licensetospeed.org/

     

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    FrellMeDead, Mar 30th, 2009 @ 11:57pm

    Common problem throughout the world

    The timing device that the average police officer uses requires the office to press the button two times, the first to start the time and the second to stop it. Usually the officers use marks on the road that were setup for a standardized distance between lines. The problem arises do to the simple problem that everyone requires different amount of time to react. On average such discrepancies due to delayed reaction time can affect the clocked speed anywhere from 15 - 85%. Thus your may be going the speed limit but due to poor reaction time whether intentional or not may indicate that you are going more then double, triple or more then the stated speed limit. People should know that this mode of speed monitoring is only used by local police since it is illegal in most cities/states for local police to use radar or laser speed monitoring devices. The only ones that are able to use radar and laser is state police.
    I know all this from personal experience. I drive a muscle car and have been targeted/pulled over many many times for supposedly speeding. Fortunately I did my research and remembered to photograph my speedometer with my cell phone camera. I clearly showed that the local police around the city were abusing the tech on a daily basis. I have had every single ticket thrown out either before court or during it.

     

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    Motoring solicitor, Oct 5th, 2010 @ 7:35am

    there are a fair few loop holes like this in cases, and so if you have received it a ticket it is always a good idea to run it by a solicitor to see if they can spot any loop holes that could apply to you.

     

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