Going 420 mph In A 30 mph Zone?

from the you-might-want-to-slow-down-a-bit dept

It's been almost exactly three years since we wrote about a UK driver who received an automated ticket from a speeding camera, clocking his car cruising at a speedy 406 mph. The police chalked it up to a "clerical error." However, apparently those clerical errors are still happening, as a cab driver in the UK has now been issued a ticket for traveling 420 mph in a 30 mph zone. Again, the police chalk it up to "an employee processing error." Unfortunately, despite the driver's claims in the article that he's set a new land speed record, that's not even true in the world of bogus tickets. We've seen other reports clocking people at at least 480 mph. It's probably not such a big deal when the errors are so obvious -- but it makes you wonder how many people get in trouble for similar errors that aren't so extreme? Unless you happen to be good enough at math to disprove a slight exaggeration in your speed, you might just be completely out of luck. You would think that systems like these would (a) not let humans adjust the recorded speed and (b) have some sort of "reality" filter to pick up these extreme errors -- but apparently neither feature is in place. Perhaps that's why we once had that story of a brick wall clocked at 58 mph.

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  1. identicon
    lar3ry, 5 Jan 2007 @ 4:33am

    Computer-generated tickets

    Computer-generated tickets should be controversial.

    Despite the fact that most "ticket" offenses are technically "infractions" and not arrestable offenses, the rule should be that the accused should have the right to confront their accuser. With a computer, there is no questioning it, other than to request when the last time the computer was calibrated and whether or not the necessary calibration was accurate at the date/time the alleged infraction occurred.

    However, that's only part of the equation. How can the computer be sure that the person that received the citation in the mail is, in fact, the actual driver of the car? A grainy picture? Will the computer positively point out in a court of law that the image in its memory is, in fact, the defendant? Is it possible that the measuring device (usually radar) could have been in the process of being moved at the time when it "caught" the infraction (adding the complication combining the speed of the movement of the device with the speed of the movement of the vehicle it allegedly was measuring)? That's the "58 MPH Brick Wall" effect described in the comment above.

    There are many, many questions that can possibly be asked, but with a computer, you have nothing but the supposed "facts" it relates.

    How many programmers out there are willing to testify in a court of law that their software is perfect and cannot make an error? Unless the software in question is meaningless, the answer is "zero." However, the accuracy of the software is usually assumed in such circumstances. There is no accounting for a software glitch that assigns YOUR car the speed of a different car... can I challenge the actual programming? Will I be given access to the source code?

    I know that it is pushing the point to argue all this about a $100 ticket, but it's the point that needs to be considered.

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