Greed Camera Error Factor

from the driving-roulette dept

Bob Dole writes “A British driver got quite a surprise when a speed camera ticket showed up in his mailbox claiming his Peugeot was exceeding the speed limit by 346MPH. The officials responsible for the bungle not only are insisting on prosecuting the man, but they blame the outrageous speed claim on “clerical error.” You’re supposed to imagine a little old secretary accidentally hitting the “0” key while carefully typing up the summons. Except there are no humans involved at any step in this process — it’s all automated. Previous Techdirt coverage suggests this isn’t an isolated occurrence. A police officer, now retired, who ran a major speed camera program explains why: “Forces were only allowed to join the ‘cash for cameras’ scheme if they signed up to increasing massively the numbers of tickets issued. It was not about road safety.”” I’d guess that the “clerical error” has to do with the car in question: a Peugeot 406, which is accused of traveling at 406 mph. So, clearly, the system put the vehicle number in the speed spot. Still, the amazing thing is that the police still plan to press ahead on the charges against the guy – despite the obvious error on the ticket.

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Comments on “Greed Camera Error Factor”

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DL says:

Possible explanation

Since the article is sparse on details, I have to speculate. In this case it is possible that while the value recorded on the summons was incorrect, it may still be the case that he was exceeding the local speed limit, whatever it was. Perhaps their “raw data” includes the real speed. I don’t know. Just trying to come up with a reasonable explanation for their going ahead with prosecution.

eeyore says:


You have to wonder at the legal footing these speed cameras are on when it seems like so many people beat legitimate tickets on technicalities already. My sister beat a speeding ticket because the cop wrote down the wrong tag number on the ticket and a guy I knew in school beat a speeding ticket because he was able to prove his car was incapable of reaching the speed he was ticketed for.

When I was in high school, campus security one Friday staked out the parking lot and photographed cars leaving school early. Monday morning about fifty students were called to the vice principal’s office and shown photos of their car tags and told they’d be suspended for three days. The first student called in said with a straight face “my dad came and picked up my car.” Since all they’d photographed were license plates and not drivers they had to drop the whole thing.

John V. (user link) says:

The burden of proof... Its your defense..

Burden of proof on the Road Traffic Authority

By David Fisher

August 25, 2006 12:00

More information from Australia We are fighting a war on greedy governments Er they are conning us… They are robbing would seem…

IF lawyer Dennis Miralis is right – and so far he has been – NSW drivers would be mad not to challenge just about every fine issued as a result of a photograph taken by a speed camera.

It’s all about the burden of proof.

The lawyer says the Roads and Traffic Authority has, until now, conned lawyers, the public and the courts into accepting the speed camera verdict – which meant drivers felt they had little choice but to hand over the payment of a fine even if they thought they weren’t speeding.

Miralis has challenged that notion successfully several times in the Supreme Court, and this week he had another win – this time in the District Court.

The court ruled in favour of Miralis’ client, David Baldock, who claimed there was a technical fault in a speed camera photo of his vehicle.

The judge agreed with the argument that speed cameras would need to be calibrated every day to be considered accurate. The RTA has the cameras calibrated once every 12 months.

Miralis believes the argument that won the case for his client goes to the heart of our legal system.

“It is about the burden of proof and from the moment someone denies speeding and decides to fight the matter, it is up to the RTA to prove that person was, in fact, speeding,” Miralis said yesterday.

“The RTA has to prove that the speed recorded by the camera was accurate on the day the photograph was taken.

“It is no good saying the camera was accurate when we checked the calibration six or 12 months ago – that does not prove the camera was accurate on the day in question. The judge accepted that argument.

“He said the RTA was trying to put the onus on drivers to prove their innocence but the RTA has to prove its case and show the recording was accurate on the day in question.

“The court said there was no evidence that the camera was reliable on that day in June 2005 and decided that what the camera shows is meaningless because it had not been checked that day.

“This also throws into serious doubt any previous convictions that have resulted from speed camera photographs.”

Miralis believes the principle of burden of proof applies to all speed cameras in NSW – they should be calibrated every day to ensure they are accurate on any given day – but there were specific problems in the camera that photographed his client’s car.

That particular camera had suffered 15 malfunctions in the 12-month period between calibration, which gave rise to serious doubts about its reliability.

The problems ranged from distorted images to the camera ceasing to detect cars.

Miralis’ point is that despite the 12-month check being undertaken on the camera, it was beset by serious problems on a regular basis.

“There was chronic malfunction that went on throughout the 12-month period. It clearly showed it was a device with problems yet the RTA says it is operating properly because it is calibrated once every 12 months,” he said.

The RTA points to legislation that requires the calibration to be checked once every 12 months.

The Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) (Road Rules) Regulation 1999 says the cameras must be tested for accuracy once every 12 months.

But Miralis says that only applies if someone is not fighting the allegation – for instance if the driver accepts he or she was speeding but asks for leniency from the court.

He argues that once someone decides to fight the allegation of speeding, the RTA then has to prove their camera was accurate on the day of the alleged offence.

“The RTA has been trying to con people on this for a long time,” Miralis said.

The RTA said the case set no precedent and applied “only to the specific circumstances of the case”.

“Each speed camera operated in NSW is subject to comprehensive testing procedures to ensure its accuracy and reliability,” a spokesman said.

“The RTA’s view is that the judgment relates to the evidence presented by the appellant, and not to the camera maintenance regime.

“Each camera’s recording device is inspected every 30 days, each undergoes a speed measurement test at least every six months as well as certification testing at least every 12 months in accordance with the legislation,” the spokesman said.

But Miralis says the entire camera system needs to be overhauled.

He believes part of the problem is that the cameras are checked by people sub-contracted by the RTA.

“The cameras need to be independently checked, not done by sub-contractors who might be worried about giving the RTA feedback and results it does not want to hear,” Miralis said.

“In order for the public to have confidence they must be sure that the measures it introduces on the roads are for protecting the community, not just for revenue-raising.”

Opposition Leader Peter Debnam said the problem had arisen because the Government used speed cameras as revenue-raising devices rather than safety devices.

“The public needs to have confidence that these cameras are there to protect the community and not to fill coffers of government,” he said.

“Calibration once a year is not enough to guarantee accuracy – the Government has known that for years, the courts now know it and so do drivers.

“Speed cameras are an important device but they need to be used properly. The real concern is that we need police on the roads – a police presence does more than anything else to slow people down.”

I recently won a “speeding case” why was I charged?

Becuase the corperation and goverenmnt body had dropped the tolerance from 10% to 3% and no speedometer is that accurate, and I fought the issue in my local magistrates court. My problem ? Going over the speed limit as charged by 4 kilometers in a 60 zone. I ask you, better watch the speedometer, because watching the road might cost you money.. After all speed kills…. Who’s smirking? The corperations, who after people mostly complying drop limits so you cant comply easily. FAIR GO for Drivers please…

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