Video: In Sweden, Speed Camera Pays YOU

December 1, 2010
Speed Camera Lottery project for VW's Fun Theory campaign

Speed Camera Lottery project for VW's Fun Theory campaign

You might recall last year's "Fun Theory" campaign from Volkswagen. We discussed it several times at TheCarConnection, and some of campaign's clips -- like the one of subway stairs converted into a giant piano keyboard -- generated huge views on YouTube. What we failed to mention, however, was that part of the campaign was a contest: VW invited folks around the globe to submit their own ideas for getting people to live healthier, safer, more eco-friendly lives. And the recently announced winner hails from San Francisco.

Kevin Richardson's contest submission uses the oft-despised traffic cam and a little positive reinforcement to reduce speeds on city streets. The idea is fairly simple: offer drivers a shot at free cash for obeying the speed limit. When the project was tested in Sweden, drivers were told that traffic cams in the area would take down license plates of passing cars, and at certain intervals, one driver would be chosen at random to receive a portion of the dough that the cam collected from speeders.

The results were intriguing. Over the course of a three-day test, street speeds dropped from an average of 32 km/h to 25 km/h -- despite the fact that the camera didn't actually collect fines and that no one received any cash. Here's what it looked like in practice:

Of course, traffic cams are a touchy subject -- their legality is as questionable as their profitability, and no one really likes seeing them around. Then, too, the thought of a traffic cam recording license plates willy-nilly is more than a little Big Brother-ish. And promising drivers money that never comes? Well, that just seems cruel.

But if nothing else, Richardson's experiment proves the old Southern adage: you draw more flies with honey than with vinegar.


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