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Building a Traffic Radar System To Catch Reckless Drivers?

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the bonus-points-if-it-catches-texters dept.

Crime 483

cbraescu1 writes "I live in a city with a population in the millions (someplace in the Middle East; the country is not important), and I am mad as hell. The car traffic is going from bad to worse, and I'm sick of all the car accidents that keep happening (we have one of the biggest accident and mortality rates per km of road or per 1,000 vehicles). I just witnessed a car accident a few hours ago, and in the last few months I've given first aid at two other car accidents, all happening within 500 meters of each other. Today's victims escaped alive, but the motorcycle driver who was responsible fled and the police weren't equipped to catch him. There are laws, but not much willingness to enforce them, and no traffic lights at all. After speaking with some of my friends, we decided to take the issue into our own hands: build a traffic radar system able to capture a vehicle's speed, install it at our own expense, and share the generated penalties with the city government (all subject of their approval, of course). We want to start on the main avenue (more than 15 km) and to 'roll' the income from the penalties into covering new streets (so that perpetrators will basically finance the system). We're not rich and we will not ask for our money back. We just need to make the system start and we're confident the penalty fees will cover its spread. So, I'm asking Slashdot: what would be a workable way to build such a system? It must withstand drivers claiming the system is cheating, high temperatures, high levels of humidity, and crappy electricity. Any suggestions would be appreciated. This is about technology saving lives — literally."

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One additional improvement (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33318850)

Some sort of gun or missile to get rid of speeders.

Re:One additional improvement (4, Funny)

psyque (1234612) | more than 4 years ago | (#33318870)

I second this. It's been proved time and time again that more guns in the middle east is always the answer.

Re:One additional improvement (3, Insightful)

2.7182 (819680) | more than 4 years ago | (#33318918)

Why bother with all the infrastructure? Just install a monitor in the car and when the speedometer goes too high, charge his/her credit card.

Re:One additional improvement (2, Informative)

AaronLS (1804210) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319368)

Your biggest challenge will not be finding a solution, but getting the solution implemented. You will deal with a lot of officials who are ignorant, arrogant, or just don't care about human life as much as you do. Even when they do care, you have to deal with their ignorance. They will likely not lean on experts for advice, but instead rely on the local computer guy Bob for advise, or they will shell out big bucks to a local consulting firm where their acquaintance works, even though that firm has no experience in the task at hand.

If you want this to succeed, you will probably have to spend the rest of your life trying to become the head of your Department of Transportation or maybe Highway Safety, or whichever department has authority over the other. So that you can ensure first hand and with authority, that the solution is implemented correctly.

What you are proposing is a pilot project, and at the most you will get a "huh, that's cool." and that will be about as far as you get.

I don't mean to be overly negative, but I have been down this road before, and that fact is the people you will deal with are 9-5 people and all they really care about, despite their huffing and puffing, is how long till it's 5 o'clock.

BTW, reckless driving and speed are two different things. Speed makes little difference if you don't drive intelligently or are distracted and unfocused.

Re:One additional improvement (1)

scosco62 (864264) | more than 4 years ago | (#33318968)

And sand. With oil. Recipe for world peace.

Frickin (0, Offtopic)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 4 years ago | (#33318880)


Re:One additional improvement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33318900)

What's wrong with speeders? My X-34 land speeder can do 250 km/h so I should be going that fast.

Re:One additional improvement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33319150)

What's wrong with speeders? My X-34 land speeder can do 250 km/h so I should be going that fast.

I'm not sure which is worse. The fact that was such a geek Star Wars reference, or that I recognized it as such.

Why this is a bad idea. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33318856)

This is a terrible idea, because if it's successful it will be used to track people's movements by corrupt officials.

Um... shouldn't traffic lights come first? (2, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | more than 4 years ago | (#33318872)

So let me get this straight. The goal is to spend your money on catching speeders rather than installing traffic lights? Really?

Re:Um... shouldn't traffic lights come first? (2, Interesting)

attonitus (533238) | more than 4 years ago | (#33318960)

Catching speeders imposes no new restrictions - it's just about enforcing the rules that are already in place. So presumably it requires much less effort from the politicians / authorities, which makes it a more achievable objective for this guy, who's just a private citizen.

Can't enforce what is ignored. (3, Insightful)

GiveBenADollar (1722738) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319066)

Ok, so there is no enforcement for the laws in place, but a citizen wants to start his own enforcement. Yeah, I see this working out. It's not like there are no laws, then ignorance or naivety on the part of the government could be claimed, but there are laws that are ignored. This means the government willfully ignores the laws, and as such has something to gain by ignoring them. Could be laziness, could be corruption, could be any number of reasons, but in the end if they cared about the laws enough to let someone else enforce them then they would be enforcing them in the first place.

Re:Can't enforce what is ignored. (5, Funny)

RackinFrackin (152232) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319116)

..., but a citizen wants to start his own enforcement. Yeah, I see this working out.

Yeah, it will. I saw a movie like this once. I think it had Charles Bronson in it.

Re:Can't enforce what is ignored. (1)

attonitus (533238) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319430)

If its just laziness, this could be enough to embarrass the authorities into improving enforcement. Of course, if it's corruption then it's unlikely that his cameras are going to last very long.

Re:Um... shouldn't traffic lights come first? (2, Interesting)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 4 years ago | (#33318984)

What you're saying makes sense, except that it sounds like the asker doesn't work for the government and essentially wants to be a vigilante.

That is to say, he probably doesn't have the authority to install traffic lights, but he might be able to gather data proving someone is breaking the laws.

Not a great solution, but maybe sometimes you see a problem and you want to do what you can.

Re:Um... shouldn't traffic lights come first? (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319040)

I'm sure that the government would be more than happy to receive the donation of traffic lights.

Re:Um... shouldn't traffic lights come first? (1)

WalksOnDirt (704461) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319248)

But how does installing a traffic light generate money to put in more traffic lights?

red light cameras (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319374)

red light cameras

Re:Um... shouldn't traffic lights come first? (2, Funny)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319014)

I suggest you come over here for a couple of days.

There's plenty of pre-assembled cameras on our street corners, help yourself....

No doubt, and I'll be (1)

DRAGONWEEZEL (125809) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319256)

Installing radar jammers in the front and rear of my car, just in case our law enforcement gurus get any ideas.

Road to hell... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33318876)

There's no worse tyrant than one doing it for you own good.

Re:Road to hell... (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319172)

Really? So that's worse than the one that just really likes feeding people feet first to the woodchipper? That's just Libertarian bullshit used to justify why they don't have to share.

Re:Road to hell... (1, Informative)

dwiget001 (1073738) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319426)

And that, is a bunch of bull. I am a Libertarian and, in my experience, the Libertarian point of view is more along the lines of "It's my (and your) personal decision on whether or not to share". *Enforced* sharing, under threat of duress, punishment, fines, jail sentences, etc. *is not* sharing. Taxes for things that pay for things or services that a particular individual never uses falls into the category of *enforced* sharing. Get the government out of things it not constitutionally mandated to do, cut the size of government, put more money in people's pockets (as a result) and let them decide where and how they want that money spent. The U.S. Federal government, in particular, is and has done a piss poor job spending your and my money. Oh, and our kid's and grand kid's money too.

ummm (3, Informative)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 4 years ago | (#33318888)

Re:ummm (2, Informative)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 4 years ago | (#33318980)

that was exactly my thought. Purchase off the shelf. Making your own will cost more, be less reliable and require calibration etc. my search found many products, including the speed board that these guys sell. []

Traffic Lights? (3, Insightful)

machxor (1226486) | more than 4 years ago | (#33318892)

Wouldn't it make sense to install traffic lights first? Seems like some order on the road rather than chaos would reduce the accident rate much more than ticketing speeders (who will likely just continue to speed). Either way there are commercial products available for this application. Sorry I have no links but in southern California red light cameras are all over the place. Our neighbors in Arizona also have "portable" speed cameras that they trailer to locations where speeding is an issue.

Re:Traffic Lights? (1)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319158)

Traffic lights are far more expensive and time-intensive to set up than a simple radar+camera setup- plus the radars can (directly) pay for themselves unlike a traffic light. Maybe if he catches enough reckless drivers, the government will get enough money together to install traffic lights, but those radar setups would still be helpful. He also mentions a hit-and-run driver: a traffic light may reduce such accidents, but his radar data could help track down the person, and a conviction on that might remove a lot of these dangerous drivers from the road for a long while (depending on how the legal system works over there).

Re:Traffic Lights? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319194)

We've got a few up here in WA state as well, they work pretty well. It's basically a way of putting people on notice that the police are aware of the speeding and can start ticketing anytime, without actually needing to assign anybody to it unless it becomes necessary.

Re:Traffic Lights? (2, Interesting)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319450)

I know it sounds like typical western arrogance to suggest it, but I think the example of major cities in Europe and North America is informative here. You'll see that people will (mostly) honor traffic lights, but they will (mostly) ignore speed limits. It's probably because traffic light violations are (pardon the expression) black and white: either the light was red, or it wasn't, and a simple still camera can prove it one way or the other. By comparison, speed is more difficult to determine and prove (as anyone who has beaten a speeding ticket can confirm). The notion that radar guns and cameras will be effective in convicting perpetrators in a chaotic traffic environment is naive.

Meanwhile, this sounds like a great opportunity to practice some grassroots democratic activity on a subject that you have a chance of getting people behind: genuine public safety. Start educating the public about the traffic injury/fatality rates, and petition the government to do something sensible about it. Like traffic lights. Governments - even corrupt and lazy ones - do respond to public pressure on issues like this: ones with no ideological or political agenda,* which have the potential to make them look good to the masses, and maybe give them an opportunity to impose a little public order (which isn't always a bad thing). In any case, neither approach (traffic controls or speed-radar-vigilantism) will do one damn bit of good if the community doesn't support it. Not passively, but actively supporting it. You need a movement, not tech toys.

*Aside from pissing off any libertarianists in the population, but that's something that both left and right agree on :)

Re:Traffic Lights? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33319464)

IN some places like China or Brazil where I've been, traffic lights do exist and to every motorist they're "optional." Just find youtube videos with keyword "traffic" + country, and you see them running the light (Vietnam, Thailand, India, France). The problem, like the OP states, is that there's no officers to *enforce* the law. They'd much rather investigate murders, kidnappings, or most likely, nothing at all (aka, street patrol).

The fact that Americans follow the light signals was a surprise to me when I first moved to the states.

the better alternative (3, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 4 years ago | (#33318904)

Recently I took a trip to Adidas Abba Ethiopia. 7 Million people on a mountain top with 2 stoplights in the whole city. The price of gas however was $8/liter. No one drives reckless when gasoline is $8/liter. I didn't see a single accident while I was there.

Re:the better alternative (3, Informative)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319254)

Actually that's probably a side effect of them not having traffic control devices in place. Because the devices don't exist, they can't be missed and consequently nobody can assume that the other party is going to stop. I remember a study a while back which dealt with signage, the conclusion was that too many traffic control devices was usually worse than too few. As long as there was a strong standard for how to handle 4 way stops common sense went quite a long ways toward making the roads safer.

Re:the better alternative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33319414)

Adidas Abba Ethiopia

Addis Ababa

Shit I sure hope you were just trying to be funny.

Private technological gizmos (1)

dfetter (2035) | more than 4 years ago | (#33318908)

will never replace rule of law.

Force them to slow down (4, Interesting)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 4 years ago | (#33318912)

Speed bumps may be more effective than radar traps.

Re:Force them to slow down (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319022)

I'm thinking caltrops [] .

Re:Force them to slow down (3, Insightful)

psyque (1234612) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319024)

You mean like this one in Dubai? []

Re:Force them to slow down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33319354)

WOW ! Feel sorry for the Lamborghini driver though.

Re:Force them to slow down (1)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319038)

I live in a city with a population in the millions (someplace in the Middle East; the country is not important)

private citizen wants to put down speed bumps. Best to do it at night when it's cooler and the roads are less busy.

A couple of guys pouring cement onto a lump on the road in the middle of the night is not suspicious at all..... except to the predator flying overhead...

Re:Force them to slow down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33319068)

Dips are better, compression and rebound damping are tuned mostly for small movements and bumps, dips will be much more jarring.

Re:Force them to slow down (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319122)

Drive the frost heaves of the Alaska Highway once.

Bumps do a damned good job of slowing you down or jarring the hell out of you.

Re:Force them to slow down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33319192)

Dips are better, compression and rebound damping are tuned mostly for small movements and bumps, dips will be much more jarring.

But you can bypass dips by going fast enough, and if you run through bumps at high speeds you're going to really damage the suspension (or the chassis itself on sport suspension).

Perhaps you're thinking about different things.. the bumps here would pretty much remove 5 cm from your track tuned car bottom, even if you were driving 0.0001 km/h.

Re:Force them to slow down (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319222)

Speed bumps are great, especially since you can tune them to the speed that you're expecting on the road. Jarring isn't a good idea, if you've got people speeding, jarring them could very easily send them into a crowd of pedestrians, which is presumably not the intention of getting traffic under control.

Re:Force them to slow down (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33319096)

install cameras in high accident areas and record the insanity.... this will raise awareness and (might) bring shame to the city (officials) who are not enforcing the laws.... if enough really tragic videos go "viral" maybe a news story will be done about it...

Re:Force them to slow down (1)

Almandine (1594857) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319128)

And pair those speed bumps with rumble strips so that the drivers can stay in their lanes.

Re:Speed Bumps (2, Insightful)

DocSavage64109 (799754) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319232)

Plus speed bumps have the added bonus of wrecking and perhaps killing all those pesky motorcyclists! (I was kind of assuming from the description that he wasn't talking about a sub 20 mph area.)

Re:Force them to slow down (5, Insightful)

Mitreya (579078) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319276)

Speed bumps may be more effective than radar traps.

And now I am not moderating anymore. I used to agree with you, but then someone pointed out that this is not nearly as good of a solution as it seems. Apparently, all it takes is one trip in an ambulance over a few speedbumps and you'd see things differently. A non-discriminating solution that slows all traffic to 5-10 miles an hour on a city road is an overkill.

Re:Force them to slow down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33319296)

As a bonus, you can hide a few dead bodies too!

Err...wait, just how made are you??

Enforcement? (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 4 years ago | (#33318922)

If there was any will of the authorities to enforce speed laws, they'd do something. Apparently there isn't so what are you going to do about that? Vigilantism?

Misdirected efforts (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33318924)

You cannot solve a social problem with technology, or strict laws.

Re:Misdirected efforts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33319140)

People speed because there's too much distance between point A and point B... points A and B usually being the driver's house and job.

Fast cars + the Middle East (1)

DoubleParadoxx (928992) | more than 4 years ago | (#33318930)

You'd think they could afford to install some stop lights in Dubai...

Any suggestions would be appreciated (4, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#33318932)


No seriously, the real issue is training/caring, not more policing. If your population is too dumb to be trained how to drive responsibly or don't care about their follow man as a rule, its time to move elsewhere.

A man more wise than me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33318934)

Someone suggested putting spikes in place of air bags on steering wheels. Sounds like the wankers on the roads near you need to discover just how dangerous their driving its too other road users.

By the way, unless you're a police officer you probably won't get anyone to pay any fine you impose. Unless you intend too extort it out of them...?

Out Source It (2, Interesting)

DontScotty (978874) | more than 4 years ago | (#33318938)

Find a country willing to provide

lower quality services for less money -

then when they continue the downward trend,

complain about the cost of returning the

services to the local level to improve the quality.

3) Profit !

It's not that simple (1)

jhutchins (67384) | more than 4 years ago | (#33318946)

Just capturing speed is going to do very little to alleviate bad or aggressive driving. Speed can reduce reaction time and increase impact. It's often cited as a contributing factor in accident analysis, but often simply as a "check all the usual boxes" habit. ( [] )

First define "Reckless" (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 4 years ago | (#33318950)

Is Reckless speeding? Weaving in and out of other cars? Sudden/frequent lane changes?

Do you need video of the vehicle driving recklessly in order to prosecute?

Forget the radar trap... (1)

Lucas123 (935744) | more than 4 years ago | (#33318958)

Just toss a spike strip across the road. That ought to slow things down.

two ways to do it (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33318962)

Traffic camera systems are already commercially available.


It's not hard with blob detection.... not hard at all using the opensource aForge libraries (google it). Just track the movement of the blob across the cameras frame and calculate the speed based off of that. Adjust the geometry for each site, and off you go.

Laws first (1)

RichMan (8097) | more than 4 years ago | (#33318982)

First you need a law that says if you can get a "calibrated" radar reading and a picture you can issue a ticket to the owner of the vehicle.

Note that with the radar photo thing you cannot identify the driver. You need a law that says you can issue a ticket to the vehicle owner by mail or the equivalent and you do not need an officer actually chasing down the speeding vehicle.

Wait (5, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 4 years ago | (#33318990)

Someone in the mid-east is mad as hell? they deuce you say~

"s I've given first aid at two other car accidents, "

good for you, well done.

" we decided to take the issue into our own hands: build a traffic radar system able to capture a vehicle's speed, install it at our own expense, and share the generated penalties with the city government (all subject of their approval, of course"

It can be done. You will need several traffic engineers, radar specialists, and about 100 million dollars. . . . and it still won't be perfect, and require law enforcement to use it. Don't forget you will need cameras, people to review the data, maintain the system.

I know everyone thinks keeping a city running is easy and cheap, but it is neither.

You don't need a technical solution, you need at social one.

You need to get the police enforcing the laws, you need to get a system with minimal corruption, you need to educate drivers on why they need to obey the laws, you need people to shame bad drivers.

You can do that for a lot less money and time then the technical solution you proposed.

yes, I do know what I'm talking about.

big brother stay home (0, Flamebait)

Eyezen (548114) | more than 4 years ago | (#33318998)

"Any suggestions would be appreciated."

Here's a suggestion do whatever you want in your country but keep you and your idea the fuck away from the USA.

Israel (1)

Webs 101 (798265) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319006)

Israeli drivers are nuts, and that's coming from a Montrealer.

This query has to be coming from Israel, probably Tel Aviv.

Re:Israel (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319042)

An Angeleno agrees with you on that, and this is someone who drives the 5 and the 405 semi-regularly during rush hour.

Re:Israel (1)

Wumpus (9548) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319224)

Tel-Aviv has plenty of traffic lights and a reasonable level of law enforcement.

From what I've seen in other countries in the area, Israeli drivers are still kinda tame, though.

Re:Israel (1)

dmesg0 (1342071) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319274)

It's about Cairo, Egypt [] .

Re:Israel (1)

Sovetskysoyuz (1832938) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319324)

My former roommate grew up in Kuwait, and has awesome stories like guys doing doughnuts in the middle of major intersections and hanging out the windows, or seven lanes of traffic on a road that only has four lanes. He saw the same thing in other Mid-East countries. His conclusion is that they're all crazy.

Sounds like a teabagger's wet dream (0, Flamebait)

Biff Stu (654099) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319032)

Think of all the tax dollars you're saving. Remember, the nine most terrifying words in the English language are "I’m from the government and I’m here to help."

Already been done (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319058)

Speed cameras are already installed in many systems.

Unless you plan on doing something new here, like catching "Reckless drivers" as your title implies as opposed to simple speeders there is nothing to discuss here.

There are companies that specialize in this. But that does not mean that any city is going to sanction a vigil-anti approach using private cameras of questionable certification maintained by non-certified private enterprises, producing tickets that will not survive the first court challenge.

(Cities issue contracts to companies to install cameras of questionable reliability, manned and operated by people of questionable certification, with debatable motives).

I sincerely doubt an open source approach would get very far here. Better to use the legal means at your disposal.

Take up a collection to buy cams fro the city or launch a ballot proposition to have the city hire it done.

Find a way to divert the funds from the police or the courts into parks or libraries, and make sure the contractor is paid on a fixed fee basis, and does not have any incentive to rig the system to generate more tickets.

Is it going to solve anything? (1)

Synon (847155) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319060)

What's the end game here? You want to build a system that captures vehicale's speed and the repurcussions of speeding. For what purpose? If your government is unwilling to enforce current laws, how will this change anything? We have speed cameras here in Arizona, they even supply some nice big signs that say "Speed enforcement camera ahead - 1/2 miles". Everyone on the road slows down to the speed limit for the camera and then continues on their way doing 15mph over once they have passed. It's a great way to generate revenue from drivers not familiar with that route, but I doubt it makes the road any safer. In fact, in some cases less safe, I've had people slam on their brakes in front of me to make sure they don't get a ticket.

You really expect to get your "share"? (5, Insightful)

ptbarnett (159784) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319062)

There are laws, but not much willingness to enforce them, and no traffic lights at all.

Let me get this straight. The police aren't enforcing the existing laws. There's no political infrastructure to install and maintain traffic lights.

Who is going to collect the fines? You aren't.

Why do you think the police will collect the fines? They aren't enforcing existing traffic laws.

In the unlikely event they do so, what makes you believe they will give you your share? It's more than likely to go directly into someone's pocket.

It sounds like your problem goes far beyond enforcement of traffic laws. And until that problem is addressed, it's unlikely that any technological solution will help.

Abrams A1 (2, Informative)

kharchenko (303729) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319080)

... put one at each end of your main road and you can ticket whoever you want.

Consider joining the police force. :) (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33319092)

The post seems to be a hoax, because it's incredibly naïve at several levels.
Building a radar system as you claim you want to do involves interactions with:

1. the police (local and/or national), which have the right to control and impose fines
2. the government, which gets the money
3. standardization bodies (to certify your radars)

Slashdot telling you what radar to use will not help you, because you will have to:
a. Check whether the police can delegate you part of its power (probably not).
b. Check whether local officials agree to let money and power slip away of their hands
        (guess not, even of it were not in the Middle East)
c. Last, but not least, homologate the hardware with the appropriate bodies.

So, unless you know the police and government bosses, I suggest you give up. :)
In case you know them, why do you need advice? Just use the same hardware as the
regular police.


If you are building from scratch (1)

pinkfalcon (215531) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319098)

See if you can find some used or re-purposed phone BNU boxes - the kind that hang outside on telephone poles...

when I was working in telecoms, we had to test those things in rain, heat, cold, rifle and shotgun impacts, generic vandalism, you name it....

It's not enough for Cairo. (1)

dmesg0 (1342071) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319106)

One such system on Bor Saeiad st. in Cairo won't help. You'll needs hundreds to make a difference. And nobody will care anyway.

beh (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319124)

Well lets go through the roll call of early North America and how we got to the transportation system we do today.
Lotsa cars/buggies/horses - mass chaos
Solution: Install traffic system(person or machine driven).
People fail to heed traffic system.
Solution: Use law enforcement that wants to enforce traffic laws, or specialized traffic divisions enacted via municipal code.
Issue: People pay fines, disposable income increases, issues begin to creep up.
Solution: Higher fines or scaled fines to correct bad behavior.

Traffic radar is a terrible system, it fills coffers, and doesn't correct behavior. The best system are some type of law enforcement that does, wants, and actively is involved in ensuring that the roads are safe. And is someone who will admonish the driver in some way with a physical presence. This system begins to fail when the system itself is highly corrupt however. Most ME countries suffer from this issue, so you're going to have an uphill battle.

So in the end? The best system is people who want to do the job to make the streets safer, because it has a direct impact on them. Not machines.

Re:beh (1)

ebuck (585470) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319468)

Total agreement.

Instead of trying to catch the culprit, shame the culprit into being a responsible citizen. With a catch the culprit solution, you don't solve the problem; because, if the reckless drivers thought they were going to cause accidents that might take their lives, they wouldn't be driving recklessly.

Offer to set up a "driving awareness" program with the local law enforcement and go school-to-school teaching the children the consequences of poor driving behavior. Deliver the message that it's not just enough to be a good driver; because, good drivers get killed every day due to the other "bad" drivers out there. You have to be a driver that doesn't rely on their skill to get out of a jam, but a driver that relies on their skill to be nowhere near a potential problem.

Present statistics, call on the goodness of the fellow man, and paint a picture where past accidents (providing explicit examples) would have been avoided if only someone had followed a few basic defensive driving rules.

Schools are a good way to reach a lot of children; and, children talk to parents. Mosques, Churches, and Synagogues can reach some of the adults directly; there's not going to be a religion that discourages poor driving. Perhaps with a polished enough delivery, you may even be able to get your message on the local television stations.

When people see bad driving as killing their future, they will drive more defensively; and, they will put more pressure on those who drive badly. Right now, it is an anything goes driving culture; but, resist the urge to punish. The people who are the worst offenders don't even consider punishment, as they don't even consider that they could be caught in an accident (because they are too good to make a mistake). The way to fix those people is to indicate that no matter how good you are as a driver, you must drive slowly and carefully because "the other guy is an idiot that thinks he's the best driver in the world"

Speed is only one factor (1)

vslee (567907) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319132)

Speed is only one factor in "reckless driving". Driving aggressively, following closely, disregarding signs / streetlights / other laws are other factors. Some are easier to measure / capture in an automated fashion than others.

High Speed != Recklessness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33319134)

How do you intend on addressing the issue of drivers whose reckless driving is due to lack of speed or situational awareness?

Frankly, if all drivers simply obeyed these simple rules, there would be significantly fewer traffic issues:
1. If there is a vehicle driving fewer than 5 car lengths behind you, where you are not approaching a traffic control device (stop sign, etc) and the vehicle is getting closer... move one lane to your right. If there is no passing lane, pull off the side and let the vehicle pass before continuing.
2. If you are approaching a vehicle from behind, where you are not approaching a traffic control device... move one lane to your left. Spend no longer than 10 seconds in the area 2 car lengths in front of and behind the car you are passing (while in the left lane). Merge back into the right lane when out of this area.
3. Raise the minimum speed limit (weather permitting) to the current speed limits on highways; if a driver wishes to drive slower than the minimum, they are free to utilize local roads.

Crazy right? Pay attention to what's going on around you, don't try to police other people's driving and control your own vehicle. Just using these rules allows people to travel safely at higher speeds on a regular basis.

Start by calling then car wrecks (2, Insightful)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319148)

Start by calling these car wrecks, not "accidents". The latter term nicely hides the carnage behind a nice innocuous word.

Toll system (2, Interesting)

haystor (102186) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319154)

Whenever I drive on the tollway, I think tolls should be charged based on lane changes. You'd get left lane changes for free. Every left lane change after that would cost. That means you'd be able to get into the left lane once and it would charge anyone who insists on weaving back and forth between lanes to speed themselves up by a few seconds at the cost of slowing everyone down.

Getting passed while in the left lane would put the charge on the person in the left lane if they weren't doing the limit. Those who want to pass to drive 80 in a 55 can just pay extra to drive like madmen.

More fees to be charged for exiting if you weren't in the rightmost lane for the last half-mile.

Re:Toll system (1)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319338)

I love this idea. I want it!

Average speed cameras (1)

attonitus (533238) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319162)

In the UK, reduced speed limits due to road-works on motorways are often policed using average speed cameras. These use number-plate recognition to identify cars as they pass cameras at two or more points, then calculate the average speed based on the distance between the points. The advantage of this as a home-brew solution is that you could build it with off-the-shelf equipment - no radar units needed. There's also no need to paint lines on the road or to calibrate a radar unit. It's also possibly more effective - there's no point slowing down just for the trap and then accelerating away again and it's passive, so radar detectors don't work. You'd need some license-plate recognition software, but I imagine there are free or cheap solutions available for that now. You'd need to ensure that your jurisdiction allowed you to photograph cars on a public road and store details of their number plates and you'd need to find a way to convince a court of the fidelity of the time-stamps on the photos (maybe have an OTS unprogrammable GPS unit sitting in view of the camera?).

Re:Average speed cameras (2, Interesting)

attonitus (533238) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319370)

Open source number plate recognition software [] appears to exist. Now all you need is a couple of cameras and a server. In fact, you don't even need a real-time link to the server. You could store the photos on the camera and then process them off-line.

it's LITERALLY NOT what you claim it will be (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319174)

Your solution is a radar when cops don't even bother to try and catch the culprits in a place with NO traffic lights even?

Sure, right, I believe there is a form for this on the Internet, the kind that gives you a bunch of checkboxes to fill in and then at the end gives you the result why your solution is not 'practical, politically/economically viable, etc.'.

By the way, seems to me what would happen to ANY radar/camera in a place like this is that it will be stolen in moments or destroyed some other way.

The country is important (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319182)

"I live in a city with a population in the millions (someplace in the Middle East; the country is not important)"

Some folks that I worked with did a mobile pilot project in a Middle East country to control speeding. One of their "discoveries" was that the higher you were up on the political ladder in the country, the lower your license plate number. And that number, really determined, whether you got a ticket for speeding or not.

So with a system of government like that, you can dump all your monitoring stuff into /dev/null.

Dear anonymous (1)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319198)

Unfortunately you have probably initiated a different conversation than you intended. In principal you have a fair question and the location really shouldn't matter for your question.

All that being said, you have given a bit of a mystery as the name of the city that you are talking about. This being slashdot people are going to start querying for cities in the middle east with a population of a few million. They will than expand this with those large cities in the middle east that have the highest traffic and mortality rates per 1000 KM. Following this it will be narrowed down by those with a main avenue in excess of 15 KM. Just for good measure it can than be narrowed down even further with the consideration of high humidity.

You'll probably have more luck if you can embarrass people into complying. A number of police departments have posted pictures online of traffic scofflaws with success. You could also do as they are in India and have people post pictures of violations on facebook. All told I think a public education campaign might work best as fixed traffic signals increase accident rates (see studies from the UK for reference) and would probably not have the affect you are looking for. Kudos for providing first aid though, too many can't be bothered.

What about the legal part? (1)

tnnn (1035022) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319226)

If I understand correctly, you are trying to build some kind of a static radar gun. I'm afraid that legal part of this venture is much more tricky than the technical stuff. In most countries I've visited, such a device must be officially approved and regularly calibrated. Have you checked if your device has to pass any tests to be allowed to produce evidence? What you must also consider is the way it will record offenders - it's likely this is also subject to some legal requirements. And then comes the support part - someone has to support it (which can be a pain under working conditions you mentioned) and someone has to take the evidence from it and issue a speeding ticket - in Poland, where I currently live, police was forced to hire new workers just to be able to send tickets to some offenders (plus keep in mind that there must be a way to identify them in a reasonable time frame). A lot of things to consider (and check) before you even start planning the tech part of this idea :)

An idea I have used before (1)

Haffner (1349071) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319228)

An idea that I used when I helped my friend try to set up a wireless, no-collar alarm system for his pets involved multiple cameras that were set up to triangulate position, and track it as it moved between cameras. His goal was to play an alarm any time the cats got near the fish, or got into his room, or when his dogs got past their fence, etc. Disclaimer: we never really got it working well, but we got it working sometimes.

The system worked fairly simply: The cameras were stationary and usually ~10 ft high. They would detect motion sources, and then the system would calculate the angle from the wall to the object. This data then was used to determine which other camera(s) could see the object. As soon as one camera detected it, other cameras would try to find it to triangulate its location. Location then got plotted on a 2d graph of the property (no walls, just a large grid) and was moved around accordingly.

I did much of the coding in java, mainly using some apis I found for motion detection. I calculated angles based on the object's position on the screen. The toughest part (that we overcame) was how to pass objects off between camera zones. We found that for things to run smoothly, we needed 3 cameras on the zone change so that the animal was always seen by 2 cameras. The system worked great indoors, with only 1-2 pets, but outside didn't work at all due to too much motion noise. Ultimately, we scrapped the tracking project and just went with motion detecting cameras that would go off whenever a pet moved within a certain area of the frame.

To make this relevant to you, I would think that this system would be much easier to implement using cars. Motorcycles could be a bit of a problem, but still, there's one vehicle moving and it's much bigger (and faster) than everything else. All you'd need is 2 layer camera coverage on every square cm of road, and then some math running to calculate speed. The biggest problem here, I bet, would be powering all the cameras (although if you're in the Middle East, I bet you could use solar).

I also... (1)

yurtinus (1590157) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319250)

...would like a pony.

I have something else for you to think about (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319262)


And pissed off "vigilantes" who got a ticket issued by the system, who decided they wanted to take it out on the camera.

It just takes one jerk with a shotgun to put a hole in your plan quite literally.

So just ruggedness against the weather and bad electricity isn't the only concern here.

You might want to think about surveillance monitoring for security as well, IR camera, and a robust data uplink, so at least you have a chance of getting a picture if anyone decides they want to try to tamper with the system.

Re:I have something else for you to think about (1)

Sovetskysoyuz (1832938) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319350)

Spy sappin mah sentry camera!

How about making smarter vehicles... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33319270)

All vehicles should be required to have sensors that prevent crashes by drunk or bad drivers.

Don't try to solve social problems with Technology (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319334)

High technology is not likely to solve something that is actually a social problem. People in your country are accustomed to driving any way they like with impunity. Installing speed cameras in a few places is not likely to change their behavior. More likely, your camera is going to end up getting run down by a car (or with a bullet hole through the lens if it's mounted away from the side of the road). Are these tickets going to be legally enforceable under your country's legal system?

If you're determined to use technology to solve the problem, instead of trying to use a high tech method to punish drivers to alter behavior (especially when the punishment comes long after the infraction), look into low-tech methods like installing speed humps to reduce speed (which are not the same as speed *bumps* which are actually felt less the faster the car is traveling).

There are many other traffic calming measures that can be employed, like narrowing streets, using traffic circles, etc. These have the advantage that they are completely passive and work against all drivers, not just the ones honest enough to want to avoid a ticket.

So you want to turn your road into a toll road . (1)

mrsportacus (1863466) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319384)

Oh the Sheriff of Nottingham returns!

You want to take a public road, install a system to enforce a speed law and have the proceeds return to you? That is no different then what highway brigands did during the middle ages. However if you must you can install your own system, after its up and running you can then adjust the system to issue tickets when ever you want. Need a little extra cash for the kids college, just a quick tweak and there you go, instant money tree!

I am sure you have enough cash to get the bond or insurance to cover the litigation your group will face every time it issues a ticket. You have the money to have your system calibrated by an independent third party every time you issue a ticket? The money to pay the lawyers to defend the tickets in court?

Petition your local government to install a traffic light or a few speed bumps.

Crowdsource it (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319410)

There's plenty of eyes already on the road who see these reckless drivers in action, and could catch them red-handed. How about we "crowdsource" it and put all those people to good use? They're already pissed-off by these reckless drivers and possibly motivated enough to actually volunteer.

Why (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33319412)

Why do people even bother asking /. for advice when these are the responses that they get?

A dissenting voice (1)

watanabe (27967) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319432)

Unlike many people posting here, I've traveled enough to understand what you want to do, and why it is likely to work, and I applaud you!

That said, England is full of these devices, and I would suggest you buy one rather than roll your own. My quick searches didn't turn anything up, but I know they exist, as there are websites devoted to pictures of people burning them down in England. : ).

For slashdotters with complaints about this:

A fine can be sent automatically. Social circumstances in much of the Middle East make automated fining likely to gain far higher compliance than police or traffic lights could. Of course senior government officials won't pay their tickets, duh. That doesn't change how likely it is to help the man/woman on the street.

Jumping to solutions? (1)

meburke (736645) | more than 4 years ago | (#33319446)

Yup, this sounds like a clear case of jumping to solutions. The problem is stated as a solution, rather than the difference between the way things are and the way you would like them to be.

On the other hand, getting rich off reckless drivers sounds like a classic case of privatization of law enforcement. Good entrepeneurial thinking.

Which is more important to you?

If you are interested in actually improving driving conditions, try analysing the problem using a reliable problem-solving/troubleshooting approach. I recommend "The Thinker's Toolkit" by Mason Jones [] . If you are interested in making money off the enforcement of public safety, this book may still be a great help.

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