9/18/2010Florida, Ohio, Australia, Germany: Photo Enforcement Accuracy Problems Multiply
Photo enforcement camera accuracy flaws uncovered in Florida, Ohio, Australia and Germany.
Garfield Heights, Ohio will refund 984 speed camera tickets worth $98,400 after city officials admitted that they misled the public. In announcing the automated ticketing machines, officials promised that tickets would be issued to those accused of going 11 MPH over the limit. The city's contract with Redflex, the Australian company that actually runs the program, called for tickets to anyone going 10 MPH over the limit. The refunds will go to those caught in the 1 MPH gap during the first six weeks of the program, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported.
In Troy, New York, motorist Susan White was falsely accused of running a red light on May 20 at 4:32pm by an automated camera in North Miami Beach. The $125 ticket came with a photograph of a dark Chevrolet with an extremely blurry license plate. White drives a light-colored Kia Soul. White explained to the Times-Union newspaper that she has never been to Miami and was at work in Troy on May 20. After the Times-Union got involved, American Traffic Solutions canceled the bogus ticket.
A court in Siegburg, Germany found a motorist who had been flashed by a speed camera on the L 333 in Sankt Augustin-Buisdorf not guilty. At trial, an expert was able to show from the camera's photographs that it would have been impossible for the driver to have been traveling at the speed alleged based on measurements of distance traveled over time. A subsequent review of the faulty camera showed one bicyclist was photographed at 70 km/h (43 MPH) and another at 92 km/h (57 MPH). Despite the bogus speed readings, the General-Anzeiger newspaper reports that the device has passed all routine calibration testing.
In Melbourne, Australia toll road officials admitted their automated enforcement system issued 7269 bogus charges to over a thousand drivers because the camera system on the EastLink toll tunnel failed to properly read license plates, the Herald Sun newspaper reported. The same optical character recognition technology is used by speed cameras, and the EastLink's photo radar has come under even greater scrutiny after the Herald Sun revealed that maintenance logs showed a camera had taken photos "without targets in beam." Corrupt test data, communications failures, company investigations and other problems were extensively documented, but police officials insisted that the cameras which had generated 237,308 tickets worth $30 million were flawless.