3/25/2013Europe Deploys Next Generation Speed Cameras
Spain deploys speed camera helicopter while France begins using a roving speed camera car.
Struggling European economies are investing big money in stealth speed camera technology designed to mail tickets to motorists who have no way of knowing they are being watched. Eurozone economies have been shrinking, with both France and Spain under heightened scrutiny for failure to meet deficit reduction targets set by the European Union. Ratings agency Standard and Poor's called the situation in Spain and France "socially explosive" in a statement to Neue Osnabrucker Zeitung. Both countries are now deploying the next generation of speed cameras.
On Thursday, Spain's Direccion General de Trafico (DGT) announced it was deploying "Pegasus," a speed camera-equipped helicopter that would begin issuing tickets by Easter weekend. A Wescam MX15 camera is mounted on the side of the helicopter that claims to accurately measure speed while flying at an altitude of 1000 feet and up to a kilometer (.6 miles) from a target vehicle traveling a maximum of 220 MPH. Once locked on, the system takes a speed reading every three seconds and produces a final speed by averaging results over nine seconds.
The telephoto lens can also film drivers and passengers, opening the possibility of additional tickets for mobile phone users and other surveillance uses. The government agency had announced the program six years ago, but deployment was put on hold pending certification of the speed measurement capabilities by the Ministry of Interior's labs at the Centro Espanol de Metrologia.
France embraced the same concept of surprise with a much more cost-effective, ground-based roving speed camera. Instead of taking to the air, a radar antenna is hidden behind the license plate of a Renault Megane that is intended to blend in with ordinary traffic and issue citations while moving on the highway. The French government began deploying twenty of the moving speed camera cars across 18 departments on March 15, less than a month after receiving type approval of the technology from a government agency. Deployments have begun in: Alpes-Maritimes, Bouches du Rhone, Calvados, Essonne, Gironde, Haute-Garonne, Loiret, Loir-et-Cher, Moselle, Nord, Oise, Paris, Pyrenees-Orientales, Rhone, Somme and Vaucluse.
The system uses a "Gatso Millia" K-band radar that claims to be able to automatically photograph and ticket any vehicle traveling 12 MPH faster than the speed camera car. An on-board GPS unit attaches the location to the ticket so that the jurisdiction and speed limit can be verified. The system uses an infrared flash invisible to motorists to avoid detection.
A copy of the DGT announcement is available in a 260k PDF file at the source link below.