Texters Beware: Camera Enforcement Could Get A Lot Smarter

November 3, 2010
How would you feel if a ticket for talking on your cellphone—including an incriminating photo—arrived in the mail?

With a new system developed in Europe, it could happen. Ticket-writing for violations like speeding, tailgating, and not wearing your seatbelt are showing promise of becoming automated with a new mobile system, developed by a EU partnership and being tested in Tampere, Finland.

And overall, in the countries that might adopt it, it simply means that there will be a lot more tickets written.

The systems are actually the result of a government partnership—a program involving 19 organizations in 12 countries, called ASSETT (Advanced Safety and Driver Support for Essential Road Transport), which aimed to cut accidents. Test operations are being held in Germany, France, and Australia, in addition to Finland, and the $11.5 million project includes partners as far away as Tanzania and India.

The Finnish test site cost about $380,000, and in pictures supplied by the system's maker, VVT, is about the size of a small pop-up camper-trailer

From a trailer, holding an array of sensors and cameras and employing a data connection, the enforcement system is aware of traffic laws on that particular stretch of highway and keeps a running record of all traffic (which could be used, potentially, to examine footage before or after a violation). It could also keep a tally of road conditions and take air-quality readings. The devices are protected by extensive "firewalls and technical solutions," VVT says.

The next step for this technology, potentially, could be to spot those texting or using hand-held cellphones while driving.

The system could be put into public use as soon as 2013.

Quite a few states already allow red-light cameras or speed cameras. Given American local governments' insatiable hunger for ticket income, a more aggressive solution like this might not be too far off.


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