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566 comments

and where's heisenberg? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35898462)

average speed != instant speed at any time between two points

Re:and where's heisenberg? (3, Insightful)

Relic of the Future (118669) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898562)

Actually, by the central limit theorem, at at least one point, your instantaneous speed MUST equal the average speed.

And at this scale, it's got absolutely nothing to do with Heisenberg.

Re:and where's heisenberg? (0)

mrnobo1024 (464702) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898590)

The two photos were taken 0.363 seconds apart, and showed an average speed of 35 mph. If you think the tickets, which alleged he hit 50 mph, could still be valid, you're saying his car is capable of accelerating from 20 mph to 50 mph in those 0.363 seconds, which is equivalent to 0 to 60 in 0.726 seconds. Now that's one damn fast car!

Re:and where's heisenberg? (2)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898804)

No they saying he was able to DECELERATE 15mph in .363 seconds. RTFA.

Re:and where's heisenberg? (1, Funny)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898850)

And manage to have the brake lights not be activated in either picture...I wish I had reactions like that.

Re:and where's heisenberg? (5, Interesting)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 2 years ago | (#35899054)

No, they are saying he was able to decelerate 15 MPH in the ~50 foot distance between where his vehicle was when it was supposedly clocked, and where it was when its photo was snapped.You RTFA.

Optotraffic representatives said the photos are not intended to capture the actual act of speeding, and are taken nearly 50 feet down the road from sensors as a way to prove the vehicle was on the road. ... “Their speed is not measured by the photos. The speed is measured before the photos are taken.”

Of course, that does bring up the question of why they need 2 photos if they aren't using them to determine the vehicle's speed.

Re:and where's heisenberg? (2)

DigiTechGuy (1747636) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898840)

Or, decellerating from 50 to 20 in .363 seconds, technically less as the article implies the brake lights are not lit in hte photo. Perhaps significantly less as standard incandescent lights as use in the brake light fixtures of typical trucks take a (relatively) significant amount of time to fully illuminate, and a (relatively) significant amount of time for the fillament to cool and go completely dim.

Re:and where's heisenberg? (2)

dougmc (70836) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898616)

Did you read the article?

If the time difference is 0.363 seconds, there's not much time for acceleration. Assuming braking at 1 g (approximately the maximum a car can do) that's a difference of about 8 mph -- which is substantial, but the pictures show the brake lights as generally being off, suggesting a much lower rate of acceleration or deceleration.

Also, it's clever to invoke Heisenberg any time we're talking about velocity and position, but I think these objects are large enough to assume that the uncertainty is relatively small :)

Re:and where's heisenberg? (2)

Ares (5306) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898988)

Further, assuming a 3/4 second reaction time, it takes 55 feet at 50mph for a driver to even get a foot on the brake pedal, which is 5 feet more than the manufacturer's expert claimed the average distance from sensor to photograph was. so, assuming the .363 second difference occurred after the driver realized the camera had taken his picture, he would actually not have the full .363 seconds to decelerate to meet the mean time theorem criteria for the photograph.

Re:and where's heisenberg? (3, Informative)

leonardluen (211265) | more than 2 years ago | (#35899040)

also if you had read the article you would have also noticed that the pictures are taken roughly 50ft after the car passes the speed sensors

according to google... 50 mph = 73.3333333 feet per second

so that gives the vehicle about an additional .68 seconds to decelerate before the first picture is even taken.

so assuming your calculations above are right that is roughly 15 mph of braking the car could do before the first photo is even taken....50mph-15mph=35 mph...which could put him at the speed limit before the first photo is taken.

this was just some quick estimation, but i think the calculations work out.

Re:and where's heisenberg? (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898632)

The photos were taken 0.363 seconds appart. Unless the trucks had their breaks completely locked up at the time the photos were taken there's no way they were doing the speed the cameras claimed. He has 40 tickets for his fleet of vehicles. If I were a business owner I'd get pretty suspicious if I got 40 tickets. Having a few speeders working for you is one thing... but 40 tickets? Come on.

Re:and where's heisenberg? (1)

sl149q (1537343) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898854)

I think the defense stated that the pictures are taken "about 50 feet" down the road... Or possibly 500-800 mS after the system determined that the vehicle was speeding.

I don't think changes the facts though, a loaded truck won't be able to slow down to 35 MPH from 50 MPH in roughly one second.

Re:and where's heisenberg? (2, Informative)

icebike (68054) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898904)

The photos are taken 50 feet from the sensor according to the company.

But he is using time stamps which are placed in the image as they are being written to disk, (probably microsd card) NOT as they are being taken.
Pictures taken are held in memory until they are processed (converted from raw to jpeg). At the time they are processed the timestamp in inserted into the image.

It took .363 seconds to process, timestamp, and write out the first image. That's is ALL that time stamp measures.

So upon a technical review, this guy should have lost this case.

Re:and where's heisenberg? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35899088)

Let's think about this.. Snap picture, encode, store. Snap second picture, encode, store. There's .363 seconds different between the storage time of the two pictures by what you write.

It's not like the camera could have magically snapped a picture of the car at a time/place the car wasn't at. Even with that small overhead, the 2nd picture would have reflected the exact (or near exact) same delay. So the time vs distance is still valid

Re:and where's heisenberg? (3, Interesting)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 2 years ago | (#35899118)

The photos are clearly intended to prove that the vehicle was at that place at that time. If the vehicle was not at that exact place at that exact time, they are inaccurate and should be inadmissible in court.

Re:and where's heisenberg? (3, Interesting)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#35899152)

I don't think that's right. A time stamp on disk might be placed in the image as it gets written out, but that's only accurate with 1 second granularity anyway, making those time stamps useless. This is talking about a time stamp that contains much more precise time stamping information, likely burned into the (possibly non-digital) image by physical hardware in the camera, which almost certainly means that it is generated at the same time the picture is generated.

If it is being burned into the image after the fact, then the camera vendor is being dumb, particularly since the whole purpose of those photos is to prove that an infraction really occurred, and burning in the time stamps after the photo is taken is basically tampering with evidence.

Re:and where's heisenberg? (0)

smelch (1988698) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898676)

So its totally natural to assume that somewhere in those 0.0393 seconds between the first and second photo, the car slowed from 50mph to some amount below 35mph to make his average speed appear like it was within the legal limit.

50% of the budget (5, Interesting)

suso (153703) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898464)

Mr. Foreman’s tickets were all issued in Forest Heights, a town of about 2,600 where officials expected $2.9 million in ticket revenue this fiscal year, about half the town’s $5.8 million budget.

Couldn't get people to pay taxes for that new community pool there? Sheesh.

Re:50% of the budget (1)

suso (153703) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898554)

Actually, the wikipedia article on Forest Heights, Maryland [wikipedia.org] tells a bit more of the story there:

After decades of former governmental stability, in the 2000s the town made headlines repeatedly as two of its recent mayors were embroiled in clashes with the town council. One mayor, Joyce Beck was ousted from office after changes to the Town Charter. In June 2009 her successor, Myles Spires, has filed a $15 million dollar lawsuit against the town for malicious prosecution after being cleared of all charges initiated by the town for misuse of town's funds.

Re:50% of the budget (1)

muindaur (925372) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898728)

I live in a small town, and about ten years ago I shadowed the offices at the board of ed in high school. I got to see some of the financial sheets at the accountant, and the school system was costing about $2 million then (pop 12K at the time over a large land area.)

If teachers are paid $40-60K a year, then costs can add up, and principles cost more in salary. Just ten teachers at a high-school can cost $400K- 1.2 Mil. It's the reason my text books in 2001 were 10+ years old. We didn't have all the funds needed for new ones.

Consider things like paying for public works(plowing, winter damage repair to roads, etc), and other operating expenses; then $6 million is about right if it's a smaller town. Otherwise it could get higher than that.

Re:50% of the budget (4, Insightful)

suso (153703) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898946)

Consider things like paying for public works(plowing, winter damage repair to roads, etc), and other operating expenses; then $6 million is about right if it's a smaller town. Otherwise it could get higher than that.

My "wow" wasn't over the size of the budget, but of the percentage that was paid for by speeding tickets alone. I mean, what if nobody speeds some year, which is what you want anyways, right?

Maybe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35898468)

We should stop pretending speed laws and enforcment has anything to do with safety.

And stop messing around wasting time and money like this.

Re:Maybe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35898846)

Hey, if they just remove the points I might have a bit less of an issue with it. I mean if you can just drive however you want as long as you have the money for the tickets.....

The obvious response... (5, Insightful)

Bobfrankly1 (1043848) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898482)

which include timestamps of two photos.

The obvious response? They will start sending ONE timestamped photo.

Re:The obvious response... (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898624)

And, if they do, they'll be challenged as being re-touched. You HAVE to have the timestamps to make it legal in the slightest. :-D

Re:The obvious response... (1)

dougmc (70836) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898652)

Bingo.

And once somebody pulls up GPS tracks that show their speed at that one timestamp and uses that to get out of the ticket ... they'll remove the timestamp from the photo, or drop the seconds entirely.

Need a new law. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898654)

I think you're right.
The best way to fight that is to pass a law requiring two pictures AND those photos must include distance markers and time stamps (to 0.01 second) so that people charged can challenge incorrect reading.

Speeding cameras are okay. But they need to be able to demonstrate their accuracy in each and every instance.

Re:The obvious response... (2)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898730)

which include timestamps of two photos.

The obvious response? They will start sending ONE timestamped photo.

Maybe this should be a new requirement for speed cameras -- they can use the radar/lidar to get an instantaneous speed if they want to, but they can only generate a ticket if the average speed as calculated from 2 photos is above the speed limit and the photo has to be reviewed and the ticket approved by a trained police officer (i.e. not by the private company that earns revenue from the ticket). Since the photos can be a fraction of a second apart and still give enough detail for accurate speed calculations (60 miles/hour is 88 feet/second (translation: 100km/hour = 27 meters/second)), it's not like a driver can do much to slow down between pictures.

I guess they could still fudge the timestamps, but it's a bit harder to do that stealthily.

Re:The obvious response... (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898844)

Those speed cameras don't have to use any radar/lidar at all. Just take pictures of cars as they pass at regular intervals, use image recognition to locate some centroid of each car in two frames, and issue a ticket if the distance exceeds a preset limit. You have a clear doumentation of the transgression right there. Heck, the time can be displayed on a separate digital display visible in the camera's field of view. Ideally supplied by another vendor. That'd be quite incontrovertible.

Re:The obvious response... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35898958)

That would be welcome. The last time I got one of these tickets, the timestamp on the second photo was actually from BEFORE the time of the first one. I told them if they are going to charge me with something it should be time travel without a license...

Re:The obvious response... (2)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 2 years ago | (#35899032)

Yes, that would be possible. It is how the human-operated VASCAR system works.

But the systems being used are using radar because it can be automated. You can today buy a module which does radar speed calculations across multiple lanes on a roadway and gives back digital speed information. Eliminates all that photo comparison stuff.

Now the system in question here sounds like it is screwed up in some manner. As someone who has seen the little flashing things go off multiple times while driving I can certainly attest to their being reasonably accurate in the places where I have encountered them, but that doesn't mean you can't screw one of them up. Certainly it will be a revenue-generator if you have one that produces tickets for non-offenders.

But in the US I struggle to imagine anyplace in the country that would need to do this. I've lived in a goodly number of places across the country (Conneticut, Ohio, Chicago, LA, Phoenix) and I've never been anywhere where there was a shortage of speeding. So why someone would feel it necessary to create a speed camera that wasn't accurate utterly mystifies me.

Re:The obvious response... (1)

Ruke (857276) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898940)

It becomes much more difficult for the officers to detect the speed of the vehicle if they do not have an accurate length of the vehicle. Mr. Foreman was able to go out and measure his vans in order to do the calculations - in order for the officers reviewing the traffic camera footage to visually determine the vehicles' speeds, they would have to have some other visual reference.

Not that any of this should be necessary. The radar guns in the speed traps can be calibrated to within 5 or so MPH. They just weren't in this case, and that seems to be the problem, especially if all of the tickets are along the same stretch of road.

Glad someone is challenging this (4, Interesting)

jcoy42 (412359) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898492)

I got a ticket from one of those things 2 weeks ago; when it flashed, I looked down. I was doing 48. I've checked my speedometer using a GPS, and it's accurage. They aren't supposed to take a picture until 10 miles over the limit (the limit there is 40, so it shouldn't have taken a picture until 50). The ticket that came in the mail said I was doing 52.

I talked to a lawyer, and was told to just pay the bill, less trouble and less expensive in the long run.. so, that was $218.

The real kicker on the ticket was that each offense must be reviewed by a real cop with a badge number. The cop's name? Officer Dollar.

Bastards.

Re:Glad someone is challenging this (2, Insightful)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898548)

I understand that speed limits are too low, but you're comlaining about getting a ticket for doing something illegal, because the exact extent to which you were violating the law was off by a fraction? "I'm sorry your honor, I only stole $320 from the victim, not the alleged $350 you're going to have to let me off."

Re:Glad someone is challenging this (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35898614)

well some states have "reckless endangerment" set at a certain speed so yes, calibration should be a part of the system so it is accurate; especially if you are going to make money off of it... 4mph/48 --> 12% error, pretty bad.

Re:Glad someone is challenging this (1)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898702)

that depends on if they're assessing a standard speeding fine, or something more signifigant. I agree that if there's a number the law specifies, your equipment should have a margin of error at least as large as its actual error. Given that the parent said they only got a fine, I'm guessing they did something technically illegal, then were offended when it was deemed technically illegal.

Re:Glad someone is challenging this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35898626)

Typically fees are significantly increased the faster you speed.

Re:Glad someone is challenging this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35898806)

But what's the difference between 8 over and 12 over?

Re:Glad someone is challenging this (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898982)

Having never received a speeding ticket, I can only speculate, but my understanding is that there are different infraction levels for speeding, and they work out to:

0-9 over x
10-19 over y ...

so, that difference is an entire infraction level different. This information I received from friends who are police officers. Now, the amount of difference I don't know, but my understanding is the 0-9 level is $50, so it isn't even worth the officer's time to actually issue a ticket, and I believe 10-19 is somewhere around $150 and 2 points, which is enough to generally attempt to fight.

Re:Glad someone is challenging this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35899042)

But what's the difference between 8 over and 12 over?

You could always ask the worst speed trap in the continental US... the entire state of Georgia.

http://www.safespeedsgeorgia.org/

http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/stories/2009/03/09/daily10.html

Re:Glad someone is challenging this (1)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898860)

$x + ($y * Miles Over Limit) for speeding. For the reckless speeding the charge is $a + ($b * Miles Over Limit).

$x is almost always less than $a.
$y is almost always less than $b.

$120 for speeding plus $5 for every mile over.
$150 for reckless speeding plus $10 for every mile over.
15 over is reckless.

If you do 14 over you get hit with $190. If you do 15 over you get hit with $300.

Re:Glad someone is challenging this (2)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898714)

Heh... The thing is that there's law requirements for how the citations are issued. An LEO accurately measuring you being 8 over would be sufficient grounds for a ticket (if he so chose to issue one...). An automated system's typically got a threshold, specified in the laws, that they're not supposed to issue citations for- but the requirement is still for accurately measuring the speed (regardless if you're breaking the law...if they can't precisely prove you were doing it, it doesn't count as they don't KNOW in his example... Now 100MPH in this case and it'd be clear...) and it sounds like they're missing the ball by 4-6 MPH there in the GP poster's case.

Re:Glad someone is challenging this (3, Insightful)

farnsworth (558449) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898724)

but you're comlaining about getting a ticket for doing something illegal, because the exact extent to which you were violating the law was off by a fraction?

It seems like he's complaining about a policy/protocol violation by the police. Similar in nature (but not in magnitude) to coming home and finding your house ransacked by the police and then getting arrested for having a joint on your coffee table. If the machines aren't supposed to be clocking him and taking his picture and mailing him a ticket, it seems perfectly legitimate to complain about that when they do.

Re:Glad someone is challenging this (2, Insightful)

Ruke (857276) | more than 2 years ago | (#35899026)

The machines aren't supposed to be taking his picture unless they measure a speed greater than 10 MPH over the limit; this is surely to ensure that they only catch people speeding, not to ensure that they only catch people going at least 10 MPH over the limit. The manufacturers (and police) know that those guns can be off by about +/- 5 MPH; that's why they set the camera threshold to double that. It seems to me that the system worked exactly as intended in this case.

Re:Glad someone is challenging this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35899084)

More accurately... This is like walking down the street with a hand rolled cigarette in your ear and getting stopped by the cops. Then getting arrested for possession when they find the cigarette is 1/4 marijuana.

Re:Glad someone is challenging this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35898754)

That would be a valid argument in court (although it would depend on the situation I'm sure.) It is absolutely incorrect to convict someone of a worse crime than the one they committed.

And in his case, 48 may not be illegal, while 52 is illegal.

Re:Glad someone is challenging this (2)

cobrausn (1915176) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898830)

No matter that there is probably not a person in existence who has ever driven a car for more than a few hours who has not broken a traffic law. I'd even go so far as to say that there is probably not a driver in existence who has not violated the speed limit somewhere at some time, even if only by accident. How is ticketing a random sample of drivers with fines that are in excess of two hundred dollars (after taxes, that is nearly an entire work week at minimum wage) fair enforcement?

Hint: It's not, but it does bring in steady revenue, which should tell you something about the effectiveness of these citations. That is, if the point were to curtail violations, not bring in revenue.

Re:Glad someone is challenging this (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35898956)

Your argument is a fallacy. Exceeding a meaningless speed limit which is posted grossly under the actual absolute maximum safe speed under ideal conditions (that is what a limit is, eh?) is not harming anyone or infringing on any else's rights or freedoms. Stealing money from another person is infringing on their rights to the fruits of their labor, but then that's sort of waht government does when they tax you... Stealing money from a victim.

Re:Glad someone is challenging this (1)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 2 years ago | (#35899008)

you should be able to face your accuser, that is the actual problem.

Re:Glad someone is challenging this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35899036)

The accusation is inaccurate because the individual was not doing 52 mph, therefore that ticket is ILLEGAL and not enforceable. A ticket needs to be issued with the exact offense.

Re:Glad someone is challenging this (1)

kalirion (728907) | more than 2 years ago | (#35899104)

While 50% is a fraction, it's a pretty big fraction.

And actually he was 3 mph over the effective speed limit. Have every tried going exactly the speed limit on any moderately busy road?

Re:Glad someone is challenging this (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35898600)

I've checked my speedometer using a GPS, and it's accurage.

Why do I feel like I shouldn't believe you?

are people still really that naive? (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898786)

The real kicker on the ticket was that each offense must be reviewed by a real cop with a badge number.

Yeah, and those mortgages the banks are trying to foreclose on are supposed be reviewed by a bank loan officer.

Re:Glad someone is challenging this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35898922)

That's 10% over the speed limit, not 10MPH.

Re:Glad someone is challenging this (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35898954)

I got one a few years ago that was bogus. It was the definitely the truck right in front of me, not me but it didn't matter. I tried to fight it but the appeals process was a joke--basically amounting to someone looking at the video and saying you are guilty. They didn't care to hear anything you had to say.

A lawyer advised me to simply ignore it. Don't pay it. It's a civil penalty not a criminal citation so they can't do anything more then send a debt collector after you. Eventually I did get a debt collection notice from an out of state law firm, and again following the original lawyers advice I replied with a letter stating that I believed the debt to be invalid and I asked them to send me proof of the debt in accordance with the Federal Debt Collection Procedure Act. As I understand it when you challenge the validity of a debt it is illegal for them to put a black mark on your credit record if you don't pay and they don't provide proof the debt is valid.

I never heard anything more about it. It's apparently not worth their time to follow up and "prove" the debt.

Re:Glad someone is challenging this (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#35899034)

Surely the reason for the buffer is because there's te chance of an error in the measurement? In which case it was off by 4mph by your measurement, which is less than the buffer amount and hence perfectly fine since it won't flag anyone who isn't actually speeding.

Re:Glad someone is challenging this (1)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 2 years ago | (#35899086)

IOW, you have no idea how fast you were going.

I don't know about your GPS, but mine often has me moving 5 mph while sitting in a parked car. So I don't know how you check your speedometer with your GPS. How did you verify your GPS is a reliable measure to check against?

And I'd bet when you saw that flash your foot eased up on the accelerator. You could easily lose a mile or 2 per hour in the moment it takes to look down. And if the speedometer is a analogue, your reading could easily be off by a mile or 2 per hour.

By the best available evidence, I'd say you were going closer to 52 than 48.

Time stamp indicates that (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35898560)

this is not a first post. Damn!

wtf? Captcha is rectum, has goatse finally taken over /.?

Hey SEWilco (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898564)

Cities and counties are responsible for automated ticketing. Not the police. Don't be an idiot next time.

Re:Hey SEWilco (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898762)

In order for it to be legal, an officer typically has to review the captured events before a citation is issued. The Police ARE involved and are partly responsible. Don't be calling people idiots next time if you don't have it right yourself, k? Diminishes the impact of what you have to say- and makes you look the part you're calling for someone else.

Re:Hey SEWilco (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#35899038)

Incorrect. Automated ticketing in nearly all jurisdictions can be done via proxy by crown or AG approval. He's still an idiot.

camera con? (2)

meerling (1487879) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898570)

There have been studies that show a huge increase in collision, especially rear-end collisions at intersection cameras.
There have been many scandals with towns setting their yellow lights to have durations significantly below the correct, and often legally required minimum times.

There is a huge trend for these to be cash cows for local governments by means of fraud. And they wonder why people hate them.

Looks like this guy has identified a town where the cameras are 'miscalibrated' and are raking in tons of dough from everyone that isn't as smart as this guy.

Re:camera con? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35898684)

I actually slam on my brakes at any intersection that has one now. I figure, I'm about one traffic collision and one crafty lawyer away from owning a traffic camera company!

Re:camera con? (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898722)

I live in Maryland, and had one of these go off when I was doing 5 under the speed limit. Also, this one happened to be on a four lane divided highway, what is to say which car is the one that triggers the camera?

Re:camera con? (5, Interesting)

Carnildo (712617) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898778)

There have been studies that show a huge increase in collision, especially rear-end collisions at intersection cameras.

There's a tradeoff involved with red-light cameras: they increase rear-end collisions, which have a low injury rate, but decrease T-bone collisions, which often result in major injury or death. Total collision rate at the intersection goes up, but the injury and death rate goes down.

Re:camera con? (1)

cobrausn (1915176) | more than 2 years ago | (#35899006)

Yes, but T-bone collisions really only occur when someone runs the red light a few seconds after the light turned red. Red light cameras are often set up to catch anyone who is even in the intersection as the light turns red, which would not cause a T-bone collision provided you were the only one in violation (someone jumping the gun and running the opposing red light could cause it). As is par for the course, a huge number of people who would not have caused an accident and likely missed the light by a few fractions of a second (because, well, they're human) are fined because just ticketing those who are most likely to cause accidents is not the goal.

Re:camera con? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35899128)

red-light cameras ... decrease T-bone collisions

citation needed

Re:camera con? (5, Insightful)

alexo (9335) | more than 2 years ago | (#35899130)

Lengthening the time of the amber light decreases accidents without the trade-off.

Re:camera con? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35899150)

>they increase rear-end collisions

Which ruin honest people's lives due to making people difficult/impossible to insure, and take much needed money out of the hands of the working poor.

So do t-bone collisions, but the increase in collisions overall simply means many, many more people have their lives ruined. Financial ruin can be worse on people's lives than physical ruin--it can even lead to death by suicide.

You try telling someone making under $20,000 a year whose job requires the use of a car (you would be surprised how many do) that they now need to find $5,000 a year to pay for insurance instead of $1,000 a year. That person's life is now quite ruined, and they are also ruining others lives by now using government support via increased taxes from their new welfare usage.

Nobody considers the cost of insurance in these calculations, though, except the insurance companies, who often donate this equipment to the police forces.

Re:camera con? (1)

sl149q (1537343) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898938)

> There have been studies that show a huge increase in collision, especially rear-end collisions at intersection cameras.

The studies mostly showed that there was a slight increase of rear-end collisions at some intersections and a slight decrease of other types of collisions. Overall it was pretty much a wash statistically. I.e. no overall benefit (except to the revenue stream.)

But the judge let other tickets stand (5, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898630)

The real travesty here is that the judge let other tickets issued by the same devices stand after it was demonstrated to him that they are not reliable. If there is reason to believe that the device was wrong in one case, there is reason to believe that it was wrong in every case.

Re:But the judge let other tickets stand (2)

bishop32x (691667) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898872)

It's entirely possible that the tickets that the judge let stand were for violators traveling considerably faster, or had evidence of braking in the photos (the photos were taken 50ft past the speed trap).

Re:But the judge let other tickets stand (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898964)

It doesn't matter. If the device that is used to measure the speed is questionable, then its speed determination for every vehicle is questionable. Once the device has been accepted as unreliable, you don't need further evidence of unreliability.

Re:But the judge let other tickets stand (1)

mistiry (1845474) | more than 2 years ago | (#35899142)

All those people need to do is appeal - they cannot legally charge them with a crime committed by a device that they have ruled as faulty.

However, if those people entered in a guilty plea, as some did, not much they can do.

Just call it what it is: a random tax (2)

Taylor123456789 (1354177) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898662)

One of the fundamentals of behavior modification is immediacy. A negative stimulus must be provided immediately after the offending behavior for the subject to learn. I received one of these tickets in the mail 2 months later from when I was traveling in another state. I don't even remember driving in that area as I was driving through several states at the time. So, there is no way this is going to change my behavior to make me stop speeding or increase safety.

Interesting bit from the article (5, Insightful)

manekineko2 (1052430) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898670)

"In Prince George’s County, cameras are operated entirely by municipalities, which can set them up within half-mile school zones. The devices are installed by vendors that typically receive about 40 percent of the payout on each ticket, with the rest going to local, county and state government."

How could anyone have thought that this was a good idea? If the only thing the private corps are doing is the installation, why are they getting 40% of all future proceeds? If the private corps are doing the on-going process of operating and maintaining the cameras, then you just incentivized them to do whatever causes more tickets to be mailed out.

My guess is that it's the later, and the local municipalities are more than happy to incentivize the private corps to break the law, since they're getting 60% cuts. Then, when scandals like this one break out, they wash their hands of the matter and say we didn't know what was happening, it was that corrupt private contractor.

Re:Interesting bit from the article (3, Insightful)

pz (113803) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898880)

The devices are installed by vendors that typically receive about 40 percent of the payout on each ticket

In this neck of the woods, that would be called a conflict of interest. If I were caught in such a situation in my professional work, it would be grounds for dismissal without recourse.

Someone needs to inform Top Gear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35898680)

Jezza would really get a kick out of this... he hates those too (as most of us do!)

How are the photos even considered evidence? (3, Interesting)

frinkster (149158) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898712)

From the article:

Optotraffic representatives said the photos are not intended to capture the actual act of speeding, and are taken nearly 50 feet down the road from sensors as a way to prove the vehicle was on the road.

How does proving that a car was on the road prove that it was speeding?

Re:How are the photos even considered evidence? (1)

DCFusor (1763438) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898828)

Further, how do they prove it was you driving? The ticket goes to driver, not a vehicle. What if someone else was driving the car?

I once got off a fairly major one because they couldn't prove I was driving (they chased, but did not catch me, it was quite a hot rod). Did that change?

Re:How are the photos even considered evidence? (2)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 2 years ago | (#35899072)

The tickets from these cameras have no points (or you can fight to have the points dropped with this argument) the fine you should pass on to whoever was driving the car. You are ultimately responsible for any offenses that happen in your car, even if you aren't driving it.

Re:How are the photos even considered evidence? (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898908)

It doesn't, and that's their point.

Optotraffic is claiming:
At point X Car A is speeding according to our court-accepted radar.
At point Y a few seconds and 50 feet later car B is the one in the photos.
By *insert magic here* we prove car A and B are the same.

I suspect *insert magic here* is more radar or some other court-accepted technique.

What they do NOT do is give a means to "cross-examine the witness," er, cross-examine the radar. Nor do they give a means to prove that car A and B are different. Although they may very well be right, NOT having a means to challenge the results makes the whole thing look opaque and makes judges much more amenable to things like "your honor, I was definitely NOT speeding at point B and my brake lights were off, you have reasonable doubt that I was speeding at point A" and letting the guy off.

As others have suggested, what is needed are distance markers and other elements that give people confidence the cameras are not fudging things.

Re:How are the photos even considered evidence? (1)

kevinNCSU (1531307) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898984)

That's a lame excuse from the company anyways. 50 feet is less than 1 second of distance traveled at even just 35mph so you'd have to be doing some unreasonable breaking to manage to trip the sensor AND get your picture taken without your break lights on. If someone actually is speeding enough to be ticketed, they should reasonably be expected to still be speeding less than second later.

Re:How are the photos even considered evidence? (1)

Ruke (857276) | more than 2 years ago | (#35899100)

It proves that your particular car was on the road at a given place and time. The radar sensor proves that there was a car-sized object on the road going faster than the speed limit. Together, the two prove that your car was going faster than the speed limit.

The best solution: Bait car (5, Interesting)

davidwr (791652) | more than 2 years ago | (#35898740)

A lawyer with some spare cash can rent an instrumented "bait car" with certified-instruments that will be admissible in court and prove once and for all that the cameras lie, then sue the city on behalf of all who were convicted or who plead guilty under what amounts to duress.

The city can then sue the vendor for the 40% cut it paid back.

Re:The best solution: Bait car (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35899074)

please provide references, really...

Re:The best solution: Bait car (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35899076)

I tried this while carrying a survey grade GPS (the sort that the US Army Corps of Engineers uses to make maps in the first place, if the DGPS beacons are in place it's accurate within half an inch) and I still got "You could have messed with the logs, we'd rather believe the speed camera". I answered that it was unscientific and was told that law and science work by different principles. IANAL, but I am a surveyor.

"Speed Limits" are stupid in general (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35898772)

I'm at work, so I can't look it up, but do a google/youtube search on "atlanta speed limit 55" or something like that.

TL;DR: Some college kids decided to go the speed limit on Atlanta's 295 loop, which is posted at 55mph, but traffic travels around 70+ mph. They got five cars and blocked all lanes, and went 55 mph. The video editing is atrocious, but the point is very good.

The government intentionally posts low speed limits so everyone is guilty. Once everyone is guilty, they are free to pull over anyone, at any time, for any reason, and cite "speeding" as the reason.

2 different things (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35898782)

From TFA, the cameras measure the car's speed 50 feet from the intersection, not AT the intersection.
So the 2 time stamped photos show the speed he was going at the intersection, which wasn't above the speed limit, but that doesn't mean that he wasn't speeding before that.

Talk about revenue (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35898818)

Run the numbers. 2.9 million, City only gets 60 percent of the revenue. so you're looking at about $5,000,000 in fines per year in a town of 2,600. Almost $2,000 per resident per year in fines. Obviously milking people driving through town to finance their city.

Roadside Cash Registers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35898832)

These things are nothing more but cash registers for the city's coffers.

Here's how it works:
1. cameras are bought and put in school zones, poor visibility areas under much applause. It turns out they don't make any money.
2. cameras are moved over to 2-lane (each way) roads with a higher speed limit, they make some money but not as expected (*)
3. speed limit on said road is significantly reduced, with some bogus reason ("environment", "noise complaints", etc.)
4. profit!

(*) Ever wonder what's being talked about when the councillors go on "study trips" to other municipalities? How they can find alternate revenue streams, that's what.

Paging all class-action lawyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35898926)

Cleanup on Optotraffic in aisle 2! Cleanup on Optotraffic in aisle 2!

Seriously, if this isn't a class-action lawsuit waiting to happen, I don't know what is.

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