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.

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

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Weird Harold's former #5 fan says:

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.

R. Miles says:

Re: 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.

Bowen88 (profile) says:

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.

winterfreez says:

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…

Eponymous Coward says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:


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.

DC says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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!

Chargone (profile) says:

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.

Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:

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.

FrellMeDead (profile) says:

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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