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2/14/2011
Italy: Speed Camera Gives Economy Van 764 MPH Ticket
Speed camera in Italy accuses Fiat van driver of achieving supersonic speeds.

SS7 camera trap
The owner of a family van was surprised to receive a ticket in the mail from police in the southern Italian town of Oria accusing him of driving 1230 km/h (764 MPH). The Lizzanello resident had been driving his Fiat Doblo on the SS7 in the province of Brindisi on November 6 and weeks later received a letter demanding that he pay 165 euros (US $223).

Italian tickets allow a five percent tolerance to account for the possibility of error. At 1230 km/h, the motorist exceeded the 90 km/h (56 MPH) speed limit with an adjusted velocity of 1078 km/h (669 MPH), according to the notice signed by two officers (view ticket). Oria police insist that the camera managed by the private firm Sodi Scientifica SpA is perfectly accurate. Officials blamed the incident "clerical error" in a statement issued Thursday.

Consumer protection chief Giovanni D'Agata cited the incident as an example of how speed cameras were being misused by municipalities.

"We didn't believe it until we saw the ticket with our own eyes," D'Agata wrote. "Community and local authorities make cash needs a priority -- leading to clerical errors, mistakes of form and violations of rules and regulations for contesting the infraction -- rather than road safety."

The Fiat Doblo is particularly ill-suited to high-speed journeys. Engine options range from a 64 horsepower model to a special edition with 135 horsepower. A 90hp model boasts a top speed of 97 MPH and accelerates from a stop to 62 MPH in 15 seconds. The top-of-the-line model drops its 0 to 62 time to 11.5 seconds and boosts the maximum speed to 111 MPH.

Massive speed camera readings are nothing new. In 2009, an Italian motorcyclist was accused of driving 383 MPH. In the UK, a 1994 Honda Civic was accused of driving at speeds 13 MPH faster than a test showed the economy vehicle was capable of achieving. A Maryland speed camera accused a 68-year-old man of driving 100 MPH in a Toyota Echo at rush hour. In 2007, a Welsh photo radar unit accused a man of driving 420 MPH in a 30 MPH zone. Australian speed camera records show the devices recorded motorists allegedly speeding at 690 MPH and 248 MPH. A UK speed camera ticket from 2005 listed a speed of 800 MPH.



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