Sunday, July 26, 2009

Fighting back against red light cameras

I always get a chuckle when there is a victory against red light and speed cameras. They have morphed quickly into money machines from their avowed purpose of making our streets safer. However a citizens’ revolt is brewing and some of their tactics are both devious and creative. Some are more crude and direct efforts such as this one from the NY Post

Two oddballs have been busted for swiping nearly 20 percent of the city's red-light cameras right under Big Brother's nose, The Post has learned. They allegedly drove around town in a pickup truck with a cherry-picker to dismantle 22 of the high-end Nikons from their street poles. The devices are used to identify red-light-running drivers, who then are issued tickets by mail. The suspects peddled an estimated $88,000 worth of goods to a camera resale shop for $300 each to feed their heroin habits…. 

The next is a report about some creative students at Wooton and Richard Montgomery High Schools in Montgomery County, Maryland who manufacture replicas of license tags on their computers with bogus numbers and temporarily stick them on top of the existing tags for just enough time to make a high speed run past the speed camera. They call it “speed camera pimping.” Then some poor oofus a hundred miles away is mailed a letter declaring him guilty and demanding $40 be sent to Montgomery County. At some point the students will discover the Chief of Police’s tag numbers and put him through the mill. 

And finally an ingenious and successful method of neutralizing of red light and speed cameras is going on in Washington DC, home of 290 of them, roughly 10% of the nation’s total. The Washington Examiner reports drivers are using software called Phantom Alert in conjunction with their iPhones and GPSs to alert them to the cameras. Phantom Alert allows users to post camera locations on their system as a “Point of Interest.” Then others are alerted to these POIs when their iPhone’s or GPS tells them they are near. All this has Washington’s police chief hopping mad. 

That has irked D.C. police chief Cathy Lanier, who promised her officers would pick up their game to counteract the devices, which can also help drivers dodge sobriety checkpoints. "I think that's the whole point of this program," she told The Examiner. "It's designed to circumvent law enforcement -- law enforcement that is designed specifically to save lives." The new technology streams to iPhones and global positioning system devices, sounding off an alarm as drivers approach speed or red-light cameras. Lanier said the technology is a "cowardly tactic" and "people who overly rely on those and break the law anyway are going to get caught" in one way or another. Boo-hoo!

Update: In addition to Phantom Alert, there is free software for iPhones and newer model Blackberries available from Trapster.

1 comment:

catherine henry said...

He he he This is ingenious, not that I run red lights as a rule but I truly detest Big Brother.
Tom Henry