- Jul 2015

The Technology Behind You Getting a Fine

Tech Tuesday: Speed Cameras and how they work.

There’s nothing like travelling on the highway, minding your own business on your way to wherever you’re going and then FLASH, you’ve just gotten a ticket. Automatically you slam the brake as if that will reverse time and the fine will disappear. When you realise that it’s too light late you then go into the different stages of grief.

Denial: “I’m sure it wasn’t me they flashed, I wasn’t doing more than 120” you think to yourself, but you’re unsure, that Katy Perry song had you distracted.

Anger: “Who do these cops think they are? They’re so busy looking for people speeding but they don’t do anything about taxi drivers!” You scream to yourself, but deep down you know you’re wrong.

Bargaining: “Please God don’t let it be me that they fined, I promise if you let it be someone else, I’ll go to church every Sunday” you pray, because you may or may not have been travelling over 160 kph.

Depression: “I knew one day this was going to happen, I just hope I braked below 160 kph, if not they’ll come arrest me at home” you think to yourself, knowing it was definitely you they fined.

Acceptance: “It is what it is, whatever happens will happen, isn’t the post office still on strike? I hope they’re still on strike so they won’t deliver the fine to my house” you say hoping that it gets lost and never makes it your house.

If you’ve ever wondered how our friends in orange, blue and white manage to fine us, especially on the highway, well here is a brief explanation. Most speed traps use a camera with a radar system which fires a frequency on the road and picks up what speed each moving object is coming at. Once the radar picks up that you’re above the speed limit, it then captures your number plate and the rest is history. These radar systems can pick up vehicles on multiple lanes and capture individual vehicles because of the angle that they’re set-up at, so no you can’t dodge a fine if there are other cars next to you.

The other type is the fixed cameras such as the ones at stop lights. These systems use embedded wires on the road that can detect speed and again if you’re over the limit or you’re crossing the stop light when its red, it will capture your vehicle. The last type which are more rare are the average speed cameras. These are notoriously known on the N3 on route to KwaZulu Natal. These cameras use maths and a picture to decide if you’re eligible for a fine or not. Once you pass the first set, a picture of your registration is taken and the system knows that it should take you a specific amount of time to reach the next set of cameras. When you reach the next set another picture is taken. If you have gotten there before the average time it should take you if you were driving the correct speed, you will be fined.

It’s that simple, well it’s not really simple but you understand what we mean. There are many devices on offer to help you detect a speed camera, but really the best option is to slow down. From an expensive point of view, it’s better to slow down. From a safety point of view, it’s better to slow down, even if you are an excellent driver and you can handle yourself, it’s the other person that you can’t handle. Lastly from a stress point of view, it’s better to just slow down. No-one wants to go through the stages of grief over a fine, worse yet no-one wants officer Mazibuko and Oom Piet visiting their house. Happy Tech Tuesday.

Image courtesy of www.iol.co.za