Drivers who spot hidden speed cameras will be able to alert other vehicles within three seconds with the help of a dashboard gadget. They will no longer need to flash their headlights to oncoming drivers but will simply press a button on a satellite-positioning device.Technology is so often our master, these days. Isn’t it nice when it enables you to put one over on those who would be our masters..? ;)
The device, which exploits a loophole in the law, transmits the location of the speedtrap to a processing centre. The information is relayed to other drivers who have installed the same equipment. A car travelling 300 yards behind the driver who first spots the trap would receive the warning in time to slow down before the camera.Well, getting drivers to slow down is the point, after all, isn’t it?
Road safety groups said that the new device would undermine the ability of police to enforce the limit because drivers would be able to speed with very little risk of being caught. More than 50,000 drivers in France already have the new device. In September they reported 27,000 traps.But they will be ‘enforcing the limit’ – we’ll be slowing down, after all?
Could it be that getting people to slow down isn’t the raison d’etre of these ‘road safety’ pressure groups after all? Perish the thought!
Novus, the company behind the device, which is known as Mini Coyote, is taking advantage of a legal grey area. Police forces sometimes give warnings that drivers could be prosecuted for perverting the course of justice if they try to alert other drivers to speed traps. But there have been very few successful prosecutions.Look for this loophole to be closed pretty quickly…
The Government has said it intends to outlaw devices that detect radar or laser systems used by speed cameras. But when contacted by The Times yesterday, the Department for Transport appeared unaware of the existence of the Mini Coyote and unsure how to respond to it. A spokes-woman said: “The police do need the ability to carry out unannounced enforcement with mobile cameras.”Typically on the ball when it comes to innovations in technology – that’s our Department of Transport!
But why the whine about police needing to ‘enforce the limit with mobile cameras’..? This way, the drivers are enforcing their own limits before they even see the mobile camera! All that’s missing will be the fine – and surely that’s not the point of the enterprise, is it?
Robert Gifford, director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, said: “It should be made clear to drivers who are thinking of buying these devices that they could be prosecuted for perverting the course of justice.”Heh. Yeah, once the various committees have sat, pondered, debated and passed the legislation needed to prosecute. Good luck with that one! Somehow, I suspect technology will stay well ahead of the curve on this front.
But Edmund King, president of the AA, said: “We think it would be extremely difficult to prosecute someone for perverting the course of justice if they had warned another motorist of speed cameras ahead.”It will be. But they’ll have a go, I’m sure. Eventually…
Nigel Carter, from Novus, said: “This is actually a road-safety device because it will help prevent accidents caused by drivers stamping on the brakes when they spot a camera too late. As far as we can see, there is nothing illegal in the unit.”Everyone’s a winner, surely..?