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5/16/2009
New Zealand Speed Cameras Doubled Speed Readings for Trucks
New Zealand refunds speed camera tickets issued to trucks after speed readings prove to be bogus.

New Zealand truck
Brand new, digital speed cameras in New Zealand falsely accused truck drivers of speeding since January. Police officials announced last week that 133 tickets where refunded after at least ten recipients proved the speed claimed on the ticket had been double their actual speed. Police admitted the inaccuracy to the Dominion Post newspaper and have ceased issuing automated citations to large vehicles.

"It appears initially the cameras were set incorrectly and this has resulted in some incorrect [high] readings," Inspector Peter McKay told the Dominion Post. "If there appears to be any anomalies, we will not process any infringements. To ensure no one is disadvantaged, no photos of large flat-sided vehicles -- typically buses and trucks -- are being processed at the moment."

New Zealand introduced 43 Australian-made mobile camera units in January. The current theory as to why the system is so inaccurate is that the the large, flat sides of the vehicles are producing a doubled reflection back to the radar unit.

"We are talking about introducing a fairly sophisticated piece of equipment... it is reasonable to expect some teething issues."

This is not the first time that Australian speed cameras have caused bogus readings for large vehicles. In 2005, speed cameras that used pavement sensors, not radar, in New South Wales, Australia falsely accused bus drivers of speeding. Because the bus drivers' union had the financial resources to conduct extensive scientific tests to prove the buses were incapable of reaching the speeds alleged. This forced the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) to admit reluctantly that the vibrations caused by the large vehicles produced the bogus readings. The RTA issued refunds in March of that year. Bad sensors are even a problem in the US as 589 bogus tickets were canceled in Scottsdale, Arizona after bogus speed readings were uncovered in 2008.

Between January 1, 2007 and April 15, 2008, New Zealand police issued 536,995 speed camera tickets for a profit of NZ$36 million.

Source: Cameras record incorrect speeds (Dominion Post (New Zealand), 5/16/2009)

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