Parked Car Gets Multiple Speed Camera Tickets

from the yeah,-those-work-great dept

We’ve seen all sorts of problems with speed cameras — like the time one clocked a brick wall traveling 58 MPH (watch out!). It seems that they’ve got a problem with stationary objects. Reader Marshall points us to a story of a guy who parks his car on a road equipped with a speed camera and has received two speeding tickets while his car was parked. Don’t you feel safer now?

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Comments on “Parked Car Gets Multiple Speed Camera Tickets”

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79 Comments
Matt (profile) says:

Re: Re:

At over 1000 mph. Or 0 mph relative to the camera (which is what it is supposed to be measuring).

I accidentally beat one of these tickets many years ago. Like IP laws, speed limits are screwy because they are strict liability. If you have a good reason for exceeding the limit and it is not dangerous to do so (ie – conditions permit,) then you should not be ticketed for it. Cameras do a bad job of assessing such things. Cops are not perfect, but they beat cameras.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Well, I don’t know about your state but here in California the state speed limit is 65. Anything below that is recommended and, yes, under safe conditions even if the posted speed limit is like 35 and you went 45, you might be able to get away with it if you can argue that it was safe for you to do so. But no matter what, on the freeway or on the side streets, you can not legally go above 65 miles per hour (though I believe cops must give like a 5 mile per hour buffer?).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

In fact, most states only require speedometer calibration to within 10%.

According to what I once heard a Texas judge tell a defendant in court, speedometer error is no defense, you don’t even have to have a speedometer, and you’re responsible for your speed anyway.

If you start ticketing at 2% over the limit, you’re getting to the area where overinflated (or even slightly larger) tires cause even the most law-abiding to speed.

If you’re speeding, you’re not really law-abiding, are you?

ed smith says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

You forget that speedometers go by tire revolutions per mile. Just because a tire is sized 205/60/15 doesn’t mean that all tires of that size will be the exact same diameter. Each tire maker is slightly different, sometimes by as much as half an inch. What about tires that are half worn? They are shorter. What about a slightly taller tire for better off-road performance? All these factors effect your speedometer reading. There has to be some amount of leeway in the readings. My truck is brand new and totally stock… NO modifications. The speedometer is still off by about 4 MPH. I can be going 49 and the cop will see 45 on his radar gun. Get your facts straight before you make yourself look stupid.

Chris says:

Re: Re: Re:4 "then your not really law-abiding, are you"

“if your speeding then your not really law abiding then, are you”

This must be either a cop…. or a judge.

All speed limits are made as a recomended safe speed by engineer’s with a margin or error accounted for. I dont know about other states, but in florida its a 15% margin. so really all posted speeds are at 85% of the recomended safe speed.(supposedly) so even at 17.65% (85% of 100 = 85. 117.65% of 85 = 100) over the posted speed limit you are just reaching the recommended safe speed of the engineers.

Not to mention in my area, we have many cash cow streets in which the main roads have a posted speed limit lower than that of the neighborhoods(with driveways and kids in the streets) that criss cross them. I’d like to see the theory there. and the motorcycle(traffic) cops are always radar’ing on those streets.

Even if your breaking the law(within reason) you are still perfectly safe. And isn’t that the whole purpose of the law, its not our fault we have over protective parents (BIG BROTHER) to tell us that we need to operate not only safe, but within a margin of safety. Which i’m sure they developed with some leeway due to over inflated tires and speedo error. so the law in florida does dictate some leeway and generally cops give it to you. I’d be surprised if the judge was correct in Texas. Thats the problem with judges, its to there discretion to interpret the law, thats why you can appeal and see a different judge, but the issue with that is your 150$ ticket can end up costing you several hundred dollars in lawyer fees and that doesn’t even count lost time at work… My opinion on traffic law…its a faulty system at best…..

Colg says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

“If you’re speeding, you’re not really law-abiding, are you?”

By that standard no one is law-abiding.
The most conscientious driver will exceed the limit
on occasion through imperfection mechanical or human.

Even someone that intentionally speeds by a few MPH can operate within the spirit of the law while breaking it’s letter.

The former case is certainly law abiding
The latter is open to interpretation but most officers seem
to agree.

As Officer Steve Pomper wrote in “Is there a problem officer?”:

“During the course of an eight to twelve hour shift, officers witness dozens of minor traffic violations. an officer can’t possibly stop them all. Why? because a patrol officer’s main duty is to remain clear to handle 911 emergency calls. They can’t be tied up doing traffic stops all day long. And another thing: Most officers don’t feel they have the moral authority to enforce the traffic code to that extreme, because even cops are guilty of minor traffic indiscretions from time to time. Let’s face it, we violate some minor law almost every time we get behind the wheel. With so many traffic laws on the books, just try to drive for five minutes without breaking one. Just within the Seattle Municipal Code refrence sheet I carry with me (which doesn’t contain all the infractions), I counted 334 traffic laws available for you to violate while driving.

I guess by your standards everyone that drives is a scofflaw.

Colg

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The “grace” margin varies by police department. When we organized a neighborhood watch in our Northern Cal community, a police officer came out to speak to our group. One of our concerns was speeding teenagers through our neighborhood (it was a “shortcut” to the local high school that by-passed a few traffic signals) due to a number of small children in our neighborhood. The posted speed limit was 25 mph. Someone asked what the grace margin was and we were informed that our local pd ticketed on 11 mph over. 36 mph seemed overly generous in a 25 mph neighborhood, but there was still a significant number of drivers going well over 36 mph so a few days of enforcement really helped. BTW, to put the problem in perspective, this was a narrow, tree-lined, two block long residential street without any lines painted on it whatsoever and cars parked on the street on non-street-sweeping days.

The Anti-Mike (profile) says:

Missing data

the story lacks some data that would put this all in perspective. The simple question is “how many valid tickets are issued by this device?”

While it is unfortunate for Mr Buck ( and likely his plate is now tagged in the system for this camera ), I am confident that the vast majority of the tickets issued are valid, and that the presence of such as device (bright yellow and easy to see) has had the desired effects of lowering speed in that particular area.

I guess because mistakes are occasionally made that the entire system should be tossed out, regardless of any positive effects that might happen.

zeke says:

Re: Missing data

I think you missed the point. Nothing in the article suggests the whole system should be tossed – only that when you rely on a system without human oversight you sometimes get anomalous results. Somewhere in the process there needs to someone who can make a judgment call and say ‘this makes no sense.’

OMG - yer screwed up says:

Re: Missing data

“While it is unfortunate for Mr Buck”

Yep, what a shame. According to Mr Anti Mikme, the end justifies the means.

Get those dang perps no matter what … it takes. Collateral damage is acceptable if it does not affect Mr. Anti Mike or his “friends”.

Mr. Anti Mike lives in a strange world where the good for a few (him and his friends) out weighs the rights of the many (everyone else). In this world anything goes – if it means that the rightous have been served.

dorp says:

Re: Missing data

I am confident that the vast majority of the tickets issued are valid, and that the presence of such as device (bright yellow and easy to see) has had the desired effects of lowering speed in that particular area.

As usual, you try to twist reality. The theoretical desired effect is not to lower speed in the particular 100 foot stretch of the road overseen by the camera, but to lower the speed on the streets while maintaining safe conditions. There has been no proof that the speed cameras do either of those.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Missing data

There’s nothing missing here. No cries to trash the system, no knee-jerk reactionary statements about how bad it all is. Merely pointing out that these cameras have issues is not the same as what you suggest.

I guess because it’s Mike making the post, it has to be bad, and wrong, and shouted down.

The Anti-Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Missing data

No, sorry, but you are wrong.

Taken by itself, the post is just about how one unlucky guy stupid enough to keep parking his can in the camera’s direct line of site has gotten a couple of misdirected tickets (out of how many issued, we don’t know).

Taken as part of the Techdirt website, it is another one of Mike’s kicks at automated identification, tracking systems, and the like. The logic? If a police officer looking at a still image can’t figure out which car is speeding, how can an ISP tell which user is file sharing illegally?

The fail is that humans (and machines) are not entirely perfect, but that in the vast majority of cases, they are right. Mr Buck got a couple of misdirected speeding tickets, and a printer got a copyright violation notice. Rather than note all the correctly directed tickets or correctly directed violation notices, Mike chooses to work the exceptions as if they are the rule.

You really do need to step back and understand the underlying themes of Techdirt.

James says:

Re: Re: Re: Missing data

Actually, its sound like you’re taking a bit personally. The article seems to be a commentary on the state of affairs that “seem” to affect red light cameras (e.g. Ticketing of a brick wall).

The fail in your point is that you seem to believe these devices are a legitimate means to an end, instead of the revenue generating devices they appear to be.

The Anti-Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Missing data

James, there is no denying that speed and redlight cameras are often as much about generating income as they are about increasing safety. Sadly, too many jurisdictions see them are cash cows and not what they are really good for, which is changing the way the public behaves.

These sorts of cameras have been around for a long time in the UK (I got snapped by one on the highway up to Edinburgh about 10 or so years ago). Painting them bright yellow and making them obvious is pretty much making it clear that it isn’t just about money.

bassmadrigal (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Missing data

In my experience in Germany, the speed cameras don’t do anything to help safety. All it means, is in the areas where we know there is a camera, we slow down right before we get to the camera and then speed right back up once we pass it. Then there are those people who right as they see the cameras, they lock up their brakes. I have seen a few accidents happen because of that.

All the cameras do, is make people slow down within a couple hundred yards of where the camera is at. Now if they were to set up an temporary camera 1/2 mile past the original one occasionally, then they would realize how many people slow down for just the camera and then go right back to speeding.

I’m all for trying to find ways to make people drive more safely, but from everything I have seen while living in Germany, speed cameras don’t provide that.

Drew (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Missing data

I love this line here:

“…the post is just about how one unlucky guy stupid enough to keep parking his can in the camera’s direct line of site…”

I am guessing your argument is ‘How foolish of the man to park in front of his own house when he knows darn well that he could be wrongfully ticketed?’ So he parks in front of his house and because of where they setup the camera he should jump through hoops to ensure he does not get wrongfully ticketed? I believe that sums up your mis-guided argument quite well. Maybe you would like a police officer to follow your car when you drive and pull you over for each infraction that a different car does?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Missing data

“I am confident that the vast majority of the tickets issued are valid, and that the presence of such as device (bright yellow and easy to see) has had the desired effects of lowering speed in that particular area.”

Notice the appeal to his own confidence/authority.

Call me a skeptic, but your mere confidence is not enough to convince me of anything.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Missing data

“I guess because mistakes are occasionally made that the entire system should be tossed out, regardless of any positive effects that might happen.”

That is exactly correct. You were being sarcastic and that just goes to demonstrate how stupid you really are. It’s better for 100 guilty men to go free than for 1 innocent man to be punished.

This country was founded on freedom, not the “common good”.
Everyone bitches left right and center about communism when it comes to health care, but when it comes to fundamental rights no one seems to give a shit.

Drew (profile) says:

Re: Missing data

“…I am confident that the vast majority of the tickets issued are valid, and that the presence of such as device (bright yellow and easy to see) has had the desired effects of lowering speed in that particular area.”

I see people like you still use your own thoughts, instead of facts or studies to back up what you say. What should concern everyone is that traffics laws were designed for a person (a Police Officer) to witness an infraction taking place and then enforce the law. When you start down the dark path of letting machines police humans then you are taking ‘human judgement’ out of the equation, I fear for your society to come into being.

American for freedom says:

Re: Missing data

Regardless of how many valid tickets are issued, our country’s justice system was founded on the principle that it is better to set 100 guilty people free rather than convict one single innocent individual for a crime they did not commit. This automated system not only is demonstrated as wrongly indicting law-abiding citizens, but is also more commonly seen as being something that can not be argued with, even when it is wrong.

Rabbit80 says:

Just to clear some confusion for our American friends…

Speed cameras in England have to be painted (or marked) yellow and be clearly visible. The cameras take 2 pictures with a 0.5 second interval between them. There are also markings on the road to identify scale and distance travelled between the photos. These photos are then verified by hand.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Speeding ticket from cameras

Maybe you missed the painfully obvious link to the telegraph website… or maybe you didn’t read the story at all and merely wanted to spout idiocies as a part of your morning routine… but when a newspaper publishes quotations from the local police admitting this occurred as claimed it is pretty reasonable to believe it happened.

Urza9814 says:

Visible?

What state do you people live in where these things are visible? Bright yellow? Signs pointing them out? Here in PA they go out of their way to make them _not_ visible. Hell I’ve seen cameras mounted on the back of traffic lights. They’ll hide them behind signs, behind bushes, on the back side of an overpass…anywhere they can so you won’t see them. Is pointing them out a west coast thing maybe? Because I’ve never seen one pointed out or made visible in any way – but I don’t spend much time any further west than Ohio, so maybe it’s something they do out west…

Peet McKimmie (profile) says:

Re: Visible?

Actually, in the UK, they make all the cameras highly visible, but don’t put film in all of them all of the time. Just having the flash go off is sufficient of a deterrent for most purposes. Up here in the |NE of Scotland, at least a couple of years ago, I’m told that fewer than one camera in three actually had film in it.

(This refers to cameras out in the countryside. The ones in the cities all have film all the time, as they are the real “cash cows”.)

ed smith says:

Statistics prove that intersections with speed cameras are more dangerous than those with no cameras. People lock up the brakes on a yellow light, and end up getting rear-ended by the semi-truck barreling behind them. Here is an idea for traffic light reform, straight out of my manifesto (you know, just in case I ever have the opportunity to take over the world)

1. All yellow lights will last for a period of 5 seconds EXACTLY.

2. There shall be a period of 3 seconds when ALL lights are red during the transition period. This way, if someone still runs the light, nobody will be coming through the intersection.

3. ALL traffic lights, regardless of location will be on a traffic sensor instead of a timer. No more red light at an empty intersection at 3 am in the middle of nowhere delaying you for 5+ minutes.

Falindraun (profile) says:

When it comes to radar speed guns, the farther you are away from the camera the less likely you are the object that belongs to the speed shown on the gun. The main power portion of the beem from an average radar gun has a circular diameter of 12 degrees to 18 degrees. Using simple geometry at 100 feet that beem is 30 feet wide (thats using a ‘side angle side’ geometric algorithim using 2 sides of 100 feet long and an angle of 12 degrees). The portion of the beem that is not in the main power portion of the beem is still an area of influence. Which meens if a oh for example a bird flys through that area of influence or even the main power portion of the beem and that cop has his gun set to tag the fastest moving object that he will tag the bird and not you or that tree moving in the breese or anything else really. Also unless the cop is aiming his gun with you comming directly at him it is also inaccurate.

Anonymous Coward says:

There are many red light cameras and speed cameras in the city that I live in, I was for a short period of time responsible for replacing a few of them for my work, I have been in a few conversations with the designers in trouble shooting scenarios. The New cameras I helped install have no physical film, instead they are digital and send the digital photo to a computer, which automatically “identifies” the perpetrator, reads the licence plate, and prints the ticket to be mailed. (with absolutely 0% interaction or verification by any officers or persons of any kind. (unless you contest the ticket). To top that off the cameras are very stealthy, small, grey, with the only requirement being a sign no smaller than 12×18 to be posted within 200 feet of the intersection stating that a camera is in use.

303Rick says:

Speed Cameras

In New South Wales, Australia, speed cameras are very common. The motorists are notified for 3 kilometers before the camera, and every half kilometer as you approach the camera with enormous, highly visible billboards. One would thing that the notifications would render the cameras obsolete. But in many of the Shires,Ballina for instance, the cameras are the communities largest money makers, contributing millions of dollars every year to the coffers.

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