(Mis)Uses of Technology

by Mike Masnick

More Trouble With Red Light And Speed Camera

from the problems-everywhere dept

Bob Dole writes "Red light and speed camera supporters always claim that the camera never lies. These news items suggest otherwise. An Australian woman lost her license because a speed camera showed she was driving 104 MPH. The problem? Her nearly 30 year old Datsun's top speed is only 73MPH. Likewise, a Raleigh woman found herself trying to fight a camera ticket sent from a city she has never visited. Back down under, the police escorted hundreds of Aussie motorcyclists into a speed camera trap as they drove to an event organized by the police. Police collect $12,000. In each case, the use of machine enforcement causes the burden of proof to be placed on the innocent. They're each forced to fight city hall every time the camera is wrong (which is more than the proponents admit). The revolt against this setup grows in the UK with speed camera operators calling in sick because of the "stress" caused by angry motorists." This seems to be getting a lot of attention lately. We've also had another submission as frankiejr writes "Seems as though a woman in South Wales was clocked at 480mph by a speed camera and was promptly issued a ticket. Funniest part about it is that it was a really cheap car that can barely reach 50mph." Seems like this is the topic of the season.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    skippy, Nov 4th, 2003 @ 12:58pm


    Put a small cheap "slave flash" pointing out from the front plate. Car triggers speed trap camera, speed trap flash triggers license plate slave flash, bingo, a perfectly over exposed speed trap photo where the license plate is overexposed into a white non-readable blob.

    Repeat if needed for rear license plate.

    Call it an experiment "anti-animal roadkill" device (wink, wink).

    Let the tech wars begin...

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

  2. identicon
    NoDefense, Nov 4th, 2003 @ 1:26pm

    I demand justice without delay

    The problem I don't like about this is that you don't get cited until several weeks after you may have committed the infraction.

    When a policeman pulls you over, your memory of the incident is fresh and you know whether you were really speeding or not.

    With the cameras, it's unlikely you can recall if you were or weren't speeding 3 weeks ago.

    If the camera error in the 1st article wasn't off by so much (e.g. only off by 5 mph), the error never would have been found. Nobody can remember if they were going 5 mph over the limit 3 weeks ago.

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

  3. identicon
    Jon Acheson, Nov 4th, 2003 @ 2:37pm

    No Subject Given

    Another issue with the automated traffic cameras at intersections is that the companies in many cases will then alter the timing of the lights, shortening the yellow period in order to get more violations.

    Of course, this makes the intersection less safe, but then it really isn't about safety.

    What these cameras amount to is automated graft.

    Jon Acheson

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

  4. identicon
    itchyfish, Nov 4th, 2003 @ 3:00pm

    Which driver gets the fine?

    What if my wife is driving the car? What if I bought a car for my teenage son/daughter? If they get caught speeding, why do I get a ticket? When the officer pulls someone over, the *driver* gets the ticket, not the car owner. The real perpetrator of the "crime" is punished, not an innocent bystander.

    If you use the argument that if I let someone drive my car, then I also should take responsibility for their actions, you are being foolish. The first judge to actually use this argument to fine someone will have opened the door to an untold number of lawsuits. The gun companies become liable for every single gun death in the world. Car manufacturers become liable for every drunk driving fatatlity. If I loan my neighbor my screwdriver with the idea he needs to tighten some screws, and he takes it and stabs someone to death with it, am I guilty of murder? Using this argument, I am and it's completely unreasonable.

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

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2003 @ 4:12pm

    CA is great

    As an Australian living in California (bay area) I have to say that CA is GREAT to drive in.
    The police leave people alone unless they really are speeding (10% is the usual in australia, so you WILL get ticketed for 66Mph in a 60Mph zone). And there are no camera's (except red lights) so they only get one person at a time rather than 1000 per hour.
    Skippy - there are plenty of things you can buy already, like plastic covers for your plate that can be read straight on, but not from the side (of course they are banned in aust.) Yours is a nice idea though - but not 100% foolproof (maybe in some lighting they can still see it)
    NoDefense - Trust me (about 9 or so tickets) - you usually see the flash.
    Itchyfish - usually you get the option - tell them who was driving and we will give them the fine. In Western Australia, they didn't used to have this law - and if you could go in person and show that the person in the picture was not you then all was cleared. Of course, people started swapping cars so they never got caught in their own car :) (husbands and wifes etc have car in one name, drive the other).
    Actually I found that the speed cameras were really obvious to see - I always drove watching the side of the road (which raises the issue of having an accident because you were watching for speed camera's). It was at night that they were a problem. During the day police with laser guns were the worst, my radar detector wouldn't detect them (until I was already caught).
    To put things into perspective, I had been living in the bay area about 2 years, and in that time I saw about 3 police cars stopped with a radar gun.
    I went home to australia for a visit and in 3 weeks I went through 3 speed camera's and saw 2 police cars with laser guns. And that wasn't a freak 3 weeks - that was average.
    At least in CA the police spend time dealing with real criminals. (I also have to say that petty crime like car theft, home invasion and purse snatching seems to be much much lower here in CA - maybe a correlation?)
    hmmm sorry about the long rant.

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

  6. identicon
    lauri, Nov 7th, 2003 @ 6:16am

    Re: Which driver gets the fine?

    I was complaining about the same thing. But then someone pointed out that it's the same thing as getting a parking ticket, which is also given to the car owner, not the person driving / parking it.

    In Finland, IIRC, the ticket from a speed camera is issued to the owner unless the owner provides information about the actual driver. So unless you know who's driving your car you'll have to pay the ticket.

    I still think speed cameras suck.

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

  7. identicon
    Dozier, Jan 23rd, 2006 @ 2:02pm

    Tech Wars

    His idea would work..except everytime anything with lights came by your would too.
    the best idea is a reflective aerosol coating that they sell or ive even seen a "protective cover" that is rounded and warps the view of the plate at extreme angles but not from right behind.

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

  8. identicon
    wrongful redlight ticket, Jan 6th, 2007 @ 9:53pm

    Ticket given with no defense

    I was cited for a running a redlight based on the temporary plate on the car. The problem is the plate was not mine, different by 1 digit, and the model of the car was not even the same as mine.

    I sent in paperwork showing it was not my plate and not the same model car I own, but a week later I was told that the traffic court ruled against me with no recourse.

    Welcome to Chicago.

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

  9. identicon
    poguemathoine, Feb 1st, 2007 @ 3:07pm

    Red Light Camera Tickets

    I was cited for running a red light at one of the photo enfoced intersections here in Nor Cal. I know I didn't run it because I was there and know what I saw. I was only driving 16 mph so I wasn't racing through the light. I'm in the process of fighting the ticket and it's been over a year. At the first court appearance, I was told by the expert witness/police officer/prosecution (all the same guy) that 'somehow the camera had been bumped, so you can't see the red light in the photo'. How convenient is that? The burden of proof is on the prosecution; not me. I was still found guilty because the judge argued that the cameras dont take a picture unless there is a violation. What a bunch of crap. I've seen those things flash away and nobody was there. So, I'm now in the process of appeal. Any advice?

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

  10. identicon
    Brian O., Mar 28th, 2007 @ 4:47pm

    Re: Simple

    Red light and photo radar cameras are nothing but a cash cow for government. Increased safety is the excuse they use to put them into place.

    These cameras are way too 'Big-Brotherish' for my taste.

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

  11. identicon
    The Arbiter, Dec 22nd, 2008 @ 6:24am

    Re: Simple

    Except that RADAR operates at the speed of light, the speed check and picture is triggered before the anti-animal roadkill device has a chance to react. Nice try.

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

  12. identicon
    The Arbiter, Dec 22nd, 2008 @ 6:26am

    Re: Tech Wars

    Except that tactic will likely get you stopped anyway. Most states have laws regarding disguising or altering the view of the license plate. I know VA does. So you end up with more than one ticket.

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

  13. identicon
    Robert, Jan 8th, 2009 @ 7:47am

    I got ticketed recently because of my radar detector failure! I didn't realize that my radar detector was broken, when I realized it was too late for me!

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

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 8:06am

    Re: Re: Simple

    The goal of the flash in those cases is not to prevent a photo from being taken, or the speed from being measured--it's to overexpose that portion of the photo so you get a picture of a car with a big white blob over the license plate, meaning they don't know who to send the tickets to.

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

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