By on May 16, 2013

Picture courtesy Wikia

State Sen. Nicholas Sacco, D-Hudson, says drones could benefit society if used correctly; his bill , introduced on April 25, would let police and fire departments use drones for extreme conditions that might be too dangerous for humans, or where existing tools simply wouldn’t work.

“Think about missing children, missing seniors,” Sacco told the Star-Ledger of Newark. “The immediacy and the ability to use drones to find them quickly is very important. Think about forest fires. Things like this are extremely important.”

Children: Used As A Vague Justification For Tyranny Since About 1950! Is there anybody left who is naive enough to think that drones will be used to find missing children? After all, missing children tend to be inside buildings and/or surrounded by other, taller people. Not great conditions for drones, really.

On the other hand, a freeway is a great place for drone surveillance. And while they’re up there scanning the freeways tirelessly for missing children, seniors, or forest fires, they might as well issue some speeding tickets, right?

Welcome to the traffic Skynet. But New Jersey already has a John Connor.

International Business Times reports that some New Jersey legislators just cannot wait to get some drones flying over the freeways. They want New Jersey to get those birds in the air by 2015, well ahead of when the FAA is expected to have some half-assed thing together that makes it impossible to fly a Cessna because all the space under, say, 28,000 feet will be reserved for surveillance drones, traffic drones, and drones that seek out microaggressions against womyn and punish it via the so-called “castration ray”.

Unless a whole hell of a lot of children and seniors can be persuaded to go missing for extended periods of time, those drones will probably be used exclusively for traffic ticketing. Drones are a municipality’s dream. They can fly above traffic and issue hundreds of speeding tickets in minutes. Imagine a world where doing 68 in a 65 down a hill immediately “originates” a drone speeding ticket. That’s the future.

Luckily for the State That Made Snooki Famous, there are already voices speaking out against SkyNet. New Jersey Assemblymen Robert Schroeder and Declan J. O’Scanlon, Jr, who was recently described by my perceptive subconscious as “someone who might possibly be of Irish descent”, have introduced a bill that requires a warrant for all drone surveillance and specifically prevents the use of drones for traffic enforcement. This bill is likely to be treated like toilet paper the minute anybody takes the time to look at it, but it’s nice to know that the drones already have enemies. In the near future, which actually means the somewhat distant past in this case, we can probably expect a Resistance-captured surveillance drone to pop out of a time warp and impregnate Declan J. O’Scanlon, Jr’s mother-to-be so that he can lead the Resistance after Judgment Day. I’ve written a brief fragment of a movie script describing this:

The scene is a PARKING LOT. The DRONE-1000 is flying in a circle approximately five hundred feet above DECLAN J. O’SCANLON JR’S FUTURE MOTHER, who looks up at the faint noise overheard.

D.J.O’S.J’S.F.M.: What’s that up there?

DRONE-1000: It’s me, the Drone-1000! I’ve been sent back in time to protect you so that you can be the mother of the Resistance! In order to do this, I have to impregnate you!

D.J.O’S.J’S.F.M.: That’s weird, it’s making a noise.

DRONE-1000: I haven’t figured out the impregnation mechanism yet, but a primary data approximation says it would help if you could rent a small aircraft for an hour or so and come up here! Better make that two hours — I like to take my time!

D.J.O’S.J’S.F.M.: Huh. I wonder if Jameson is on sale at the Quickie Mart.

FINIS

While our hero drone is working that problem out, now might be a good time for TTAC readers in New Jersey to contact their local legislator.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

123 Comments on “Coming Soon To A Turnpike Near You: Drones...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Skynet begins…

    Great article Jack.

  • avatar
    mshenzi

    Can you do a script based on RoboCop, too? (NOT Robocop 2!)

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Since New Jersey is flat broke and has huge unfunded pension liability for municipal employees, you can guess what these things are really going to be used for.

    I am surprised that the NJ Turnpike doesn’t already issue speeding tickets, since it logs the entry and exit of every vehicle in order to calculate the toll. If you go from entry A to exit B in less than the time it takes to do so at the posted speed limit, you get a speeding ticket along with your receipt for paying the toll. How easy! How simple! How foolproof! It would certainly increase the business at the rest stops, since lead-foots would need to burn up some time getting a slurpee in order to not get busted when the exit.

    Of course, some states already use aircraft to track vehicle speed; but the drones would be a lot cheaper to operate.

    • 0 avatar
      Advance_92

      I asked my father this question somewhere around 1982 regarding the Pennsylvania Turnpike. He said if they used time stamps to catch everyone violating the speed limit so many people would get tickets any politician vowing to raise speed limits would be elected.

      Speed enforcement has always been about revenue, with random (and somewhat avoidable) enforcement to lull the public into accepting it. With the growing lack of privacy and massive use of CCTV people today are much more accepting of surveillance and less likely to protest arbitrary speed enforcement.

    • 0 avatar
      Kendahl

      The Kansas Turnpike, between Wichita and Topeka, did that a long time ago. If the elapsed time between entry and exit was too short, you paid your speeding fine along with your toll.

      When I was at Kansas State in the early 1970s, one of the college administrators drove a Mercedes 300SL gull wing. There was a story that, during one trip on the Turnpike, he took an hour lunch break to avoid a fine.

    • 0 avatar
      blowfish

      i take if u drive too fast u should spend some time have a coffee before hitting the next toll!

      here in Vancouver bc, we should have drones everywhere to monitor all these fast & high powered cars driven by nouveau riche & licensed, they’re out right dangerous, not many days ago an Aston Martin plowed into some cars waiting for a stop light. Sent one person to his maker and 2 critically ill in the shop.

      Our newly voted Liberal govt will usually vait 5 yrs before doing anything anyways.
      So they can remi9nd people how good they’re just before an election.

  • avatar
    stryker1

    The only thing that can save us are fleets of privately owned drones armed with melee weapons, EMP charges, or small rockets flying suicide missions against the Municipal sky-fleet. The computer-game-playing dwellers of parents’ basements will become the red barons of tomorrow.

  • avatar
    sexyhammer

    wouldn’t it be great if all the effort people spend bitching on the internet translated into action that might impact the way our country is run? there are some incredibly well-written and obviously researched articles and comments being posted here, it would be a shame if they were only able to reach the relatively limited audience that constitutes TTAC’s readership.

    it’s pretty apparent (and very depressing) that we can rally against tyranny online – here and elsewhere – but ultimately the government will find a way to push their more insidious goals into action via executive order, misleading language or being buried out of context in legislation, and through the outright apathy and refusal to act on the part of the people.

    contact your representatives and urge them to act. even though it feels like a lost cause, it’s still one worth fighting for.

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    We already know that the missing “children” are to be rescued by hilarious black dishwashers, diverted from their “McDonalds” to become instant heroes. The chances of the Police finding them is next to nothing, with or without drones.

    The drones will be used for the War on Drugs, which is the primary function of modern law enforcement.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I have no idea if Amber alerts (where the public is notified of someone missing & what vehicle to look for) work. If they do, then using drones as part of that might work. However, traffic cameras can do a better job.

      I’d actually be surprised if drones weren’t already in use for the war on drugs.

      • 0 avatar
        Summicron

        They work. So do BOLOs.

        And most of this country isn’t much served by traffic cameras, particularly the kinds of places where kidnappers and traffickers hole up.

      • 0 avatar
        SoCalMikester

        Im pretty sure theyre used near the border. the southern one, where they dont speak our language :) im also pretty sure “hard” drugs is a reason, or side-benefit. whoever heard of a canadian coke cartel shipping down here?

  • avatar
    DrunkenDonuts

    As a scifi nerd, I have to vehemently disagree with this article. Skynet is an artificial intelligence whose goal is to eliminate the human race.

    These drones are probably more related to Demolition Man, where machines are used to extract (extort?) money from individuals for committing a crime (like cursing, shown humorously throughout the movie).

    Carry on!

    Edit: I should note that this comment was meant to be taken humorously. I know, I know, the internet is serious business.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I was logging in to leave the exact same comment.

      Jack obviously spends too much time on the race track and not enough time watching movies from 1984.

  • avatar

    Life imitates art. In the Terminator movies, Skynet was first erroneously considered a virus as it spread worldwide, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terminator_3:_Rise_of_the_Machines .

    In real life, drones are afflicted with a persistent key-logging virus, see: http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/10/virus-hits-drone-fleet/ .

    /end tinfoilhattery

  • avatar
    mkirk

    What could go wrong here? Might as well let the IRS have a fleet too!

  • avatar

    Are you just being paranoid? Really? :)

    A couple of weeks ago, a drone was used in Saskatchewan to find a driver who had had a severe accident and wandered away from his vehicle. (I don’t know if he was drunk or disoriented or what happened.) Nobody could find him. After several hours of searching (it was clear from the wreckage of the car that the driver was seriously injured) a drone was deployed and before long, the driver was found motionless in a field some distance from the accident scene and he survived.

    I realize that the state’s penchant for surveillance is now trumping your right to die alone in a field, but I don’t have a huge problem with this myself.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      How can you not find someone in Saskatchewan? You can see Alberta from Manitoba. The only probable explanation is that he was hiding under a Molson box.

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        If he was in Saskatchewan, it was a Pilsner box.

      • 0 avatar
        Neb

        Once something gets down into the wheat, it’s just gone, man.

        • 0 avatar
          Monty

          Neb, nothing’s been planted, and all the snowpiles have melted – how in the heck did they need a drone to see a lost person in a field? I actually giggled when I read the story.

          Maybe everybody had been drinking their Lucky Lagers.

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        “Hey Hank, this guy says Saskatchewan is flat! . . Says there’s nothing to see . . . There’s lots to see! Nothing to block your view – like the mountains back there . . . Well what the hell? I could have sworn there was a big mountain range back there! Jutting up into the sky all purple and magestic . . . must have been thinking of a postcard I saw or something. Yeah, it is kinda flat, thanks for pointing that out!”

  • avatar
    Summicron

    I’m so conflicted on the speeding thing:

    A) Speeders are dangerous scofflaws who deserved to be punished.

    B) Effective speed limit enforcement would result in them crowding around me and staying there instead of blowing on by and vanishing from my life.

    What’s a wimp to do?

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      As someone who drives the Pennsylvania Turnpike and I-81 regularly, where the official speed limit is 65 mph, I can tell you that virtually every exceeds it. Traffic flows at 75-80 mph, and, yet, Pennsylvania’s roads are safer than ever, according to official measurements. I guess those crazy speeders didn’t get the memo that they are supposed to be death on wheels.

      I remember some people going into hysterics when it was the state went from 55 mph to 65 mph. That was in early 1995, and we’re still waiting for the predicted Automotive Armageddon to happen. I’m sure that it will any day now…

      • 0 avatar
        Summicron

        If 55 were still the limit we could have nice, tall vehicles you could actually see out of, even with CAFE.

        • 0 avatar
          geeber

          You mean like the SUVs and crossovers that are now everywhere, even with higher speed limits?

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            Look at their ever more slanting A-pillars and reduced overall glass area as opposed to , say, the late ’80′s.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          CAFE doesn’t have anything to do with high speed fuel efficiency. The tests for determining CAFE compliance are the same now as they were 35 years ago.

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            So whats decapitating all these damn vehicles, even pickups?

            Whatever it is, kill it with napalm.

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            Styling trends, plain and simple.

            But not every vehicle is following this trend.

            The 2013 Accord, for example, was designed with CAFE in mind, meets all applicable safety standards, can travel all day at 85 mph, but has an airy greenhouse.

          • 0 avatar
            SoCalMikester

            Gas prices might play a TINY role in it?

            Personally, i think they should add a dollar tax per gallon to keep it around $5/gal.

            BUT it would have to go somewhere it could do good, and NOT be earmarked for pork barrel crap.

            no welfare, no military. maybe overdue infrastructure repair/replacement(new deal projects? roads and mass transit?) or paying off the deficit

            yeah, good luck with that, right?

      • 0 avatar
        Summicron

        Only by 2013 standards. I watched Dykes’ video review.

        • 0 avatar
          geeber

          Check out the “personal luxury” coupes that were all the rage from the late 1960s through the mid-1980s. Their “formal” styling meant wide C pillars with small opera windows. They were hardly paragons of visibility. If anything, they were notorious for their “blind spots.”

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            And you can still buy rolling blind spots today, but you can’t buy an SUV or pickup with even a mid-90′s greenhouse, let alone something glorious like an ’88 Trooper.

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            Okay, but what does that have to do with lowering or raising speed limits on interstate highways?

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            Hell if I know anymore….

            ‘Scuse me, got foam hitting my loafers.

    • 0 avatar
      VA Terrapin

      I don’t get people who go on auto enthusiasts websites to tell us that we shouldn’t speed. That would be like someone going to a foodie website to tell foodies interested in steakhouses that they should go vegan because red meat is bad for their health.

      Summicron, I think any modern car sold in North America is too powerful for you, even a Prius V. Henceforth, your car, if you want to own one, should be a Geo Metro or a grey market Tata Nano.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    all the space under, say, 28,000 feet will be reserved for surveillance drones, traffic drones, and drones that seek out microaggressions against womyn and punish it via the so-called “castration ray”.

    Didn’t look at the byline, but that sentance made me realize I was reading a Jack Baruth piece.

    My prediction is that the Ohio State Highway Patrol has these suckers flying over the turnpike by the end of the week. (Speaking as someone who spent the first 22 years of his life in Ohio.)

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Ohio State Highway Patrol will have these suckers by the end of the week and they’ll be flying over the turnpike. Those SOBs would use radar activated tanks to enforce speed limits if allowed to.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      A nice counterpoint to this would be to give Ohio State HP the ability to use the drones, *if* their union agrees to deploy a monthly rotation of OSHP officers into Cleveland, Akron, Columbus and Toledo to help supplement the city police in those locations.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        When I lived in Ohio (roughly the first 22 years of my life) the state would give awards to the Highway Patrol Posts that had the “Highest _______”. I always cheered for the post that got “Highest # of Motorists Helped” (flat tires, traffic accident support, etc.) but I hated that they gave an award for “Most Citations” by a post. 90% of them had to be plain old speeding citations.

  • avatar
    kkt

    Nice article. But what do you mean ‘Children: Used As A Vague Justification For Tyranny Since About 1950′? Since 399 BC, at least.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    What a great idea! Get those evil rich car owners to pay up and help the poor civil servants who are seeing their retirements erode through no fault of their own.

    I mean, NJ isn’t going bk because public employees are making too much, or have benefit programs that are out of whack with the market – it’s going TU because drivers aren’t paying enough in taxes and fees yet.

    Drones should fix that quickly… until NJ needs more money.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    Do you really need to hear the words of Ben Franklin yet one more time? I am already licensing all my vehicles to a shell company to avoid the scanners employed by police. I always thought that absent a violation, running my plates constitutes an unwarranted search. That is now SOP for most agencies. Little by little. However, I was moved to send an email to my senators and local rep this morning to express my displeasure at the creeping “security” apparatus. I cannot picture my Father or Grandparents sitting still for this,or even proposing this remedy, yet we seem to have lost all perspective because of one tragedy. Our court system wasn’t enough for this, our prisons not penal enough, our standards of prisoner treatment not enough. American citizens being killed by their own government, without due process? This is madness. I’m ashamed of the world I’m leaving my children.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      this

    • 0 avatar
      Chicago Dude

      Unless your license plate contains a prism that allows the police to see inside your trunk, I’d say that running your plates constitutes a search of a government-produced database. That database is not and never will be your personal property.

      There are real honest-to-God problems out there. This isn’t one of them.

      • 0 avatar
        olddavid

        Good point. I hadn’t thought of it in those terms. But your point of view is skewed by your expectations. If you come of age during the time of the so-called Patriot Act, this is minor. By extension of your reasoning, roadblocks with sweeps of parking and moving violations would be next. Are you good with that?

    • 0 avatar
      LuciferV8

      Agreed.

    • 0 avatar

      > I am already licensing all my vehicles to a shell company …

      Doesn’t a vehicle registered to a company have astronomically higher insurance? That has always been my impression–if I am wrong that would be great news.

      • 0 avatar
        olddavid

        Limited usage and many vintage vehicles along with 30+ years with the same company make my rates affordable. I guess I overstated the ‘shell” aspect, as it is a company I use for billing and expenses when consulting, so it isn’t just for the licensing, although I do prefer the name to come up on any computer search. Probably paranoia, but as Demo Dick Marcinko says, “it doesn’t mean they aren’t after you”. I always listen to the snake eaters.

    • 0 avatar
      SoCalMikester

      license plate scanners scare me too. all it takes is someone with a grudge to phone in and say you did *something*, and youre in the system. they dont even have to be looking for you and theyll get a hit.

      say youve had a few and might be near the limit BUT driving safely and conscientiously with no reason to be pulled over? thats all the reason they need.

  • avatar
    99GT4.6

    Just don’t give the stupid Liberal Gov’t in Ontario any ideas. Speed limits are too low already.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Somehow in liberal CT we have managed to avoid traffic camera legislation for several years in a row now. Hopefully the same sanity will keep drones out of our skies. Of course, we did just start construction of a $500m bus highway to run parallel to the real highway, so who knows.

    • 0 avatar
      SoCalMikester

      I thought public transit was kinda dumb as well, but the SoCal metro line lots are all full now that gas is $4 a gallon and you can get a day pass for $5 or so .

      Seems to be useful to at least some people, and keeps that many cars off the freeways (mostly during non rush hour, of course). Yes, it subsidizes mostly the “working poor”, but I dont mind.

      Ive ridden the green,blue,and red lines once to get from long beach to universal studios just to check it out. it was interesting.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    I have lost my respect to the American people. They, turned this country up side down, forcing the government to take measures many times in history. But now they are turned into sheep. Millions of sheep ruled by a fistful dictators in each state. Brave Americans of the past could turn it around. These… what a shame. Time to leave this land of tyranny.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    In Virginia, we have signs along 95 and other major highways that say “Speed Limit Enforced by Aircraft.” This despite police organizations not having a single aircraft in the air to enforce speed limits since prior to the economy tanking.
    I suspect there are reasons other than making drivers paranoid why these signs remain up.

  • avatar
    David Hester

    A drone would have the same limitations that red light or speed cameras have now: They’d have to be able to identify who was actually driving the vehicle in order to make a ticket stick. A drone would be even worse for this than a stationary camera. A stationary camera can photograph the front of the vehicle to grab the driver’s face and then snap the rear of the vehicle to get the plates a couple of milliseconds later.

    A drone, unless it had the power to hover, couldn’t do that. The operator would have to fly the drone one direction to get one angle, circle back, and fly another way to get the second angle. While making the turn, the drone operator would have to somehow stil manage to keep the suspect vehicle in view in order to make it’s pass. Not only that, you’d have to figure out how to safely make passes low enough to get the driver’s face. You don’t have that issue with a camera mounted on a pole by the side of the road out of the flow of traffic.

    When aircraft are used for speed enforcement, the human pilot clocks the speed of the suspect vehicle and then radios the information to a cop on the ground, who makes the stop and issues the citation. That way the actual driver is positively identifed. Here’s a Car and Driver article about how it works from 2007.

    http://www.caranddriver.com/features/busted-from-cloud-nine

    Now, could a drone be used the same way a fixed wing aircraft is today, with the drone operator calling in information to the cops in the field who actually make the stops? Sure, but that’s really not any different then the system that exists now for the law enforcement use of flying machines. It’s a long, long way from Skynet.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Agree, except that flying a drone is cheaper and can be done from a remote location. I think this is where the worry comes from. Since in terms of generating cash this would be a win-win.

      However, since they still need to identify your vehicle and have an officer pull you over to issue the ticket this is FAR from Skynet. Now when they pass a law that you need to display your license number on your roof… then its time to be worried, very worried. Of course you could print a picture of blank asphalt on your roof or get a sunroof + blazing spotlight combination going to confuse the drones.

      • 0 avatar
        David Hester

        You’d still have the problem of positive operator identification with a drone even if you put the vehicle registration information on the roof. The public isn’t going to tolerate banzai runs by drones into oncoming traffic in order to get a shot of the driver’s face.

        I can appreciate the concerns from a theoretical perspective, but when I look at the practical issues that would have to be overcome, I don’t see drones being particularly useful or efficient for traffic law enforcement.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Thanks Dave, that information is important for keeping perspective on the issue.

    • 0 avatar
      WildcatMatt

      David, thanks for your practical input.

      My only comment is, would it really be that difficult to coordinate a drone with a fixed camera alongside the road?

      Maybe we don’t see the full-on dystopia where drones roam the Thruway ticketing at-will from high above, but it seems like it could be operated as an automated speed trap with just a little modification: set up half a dozen hi-res cameras on poles or overpasses in an area you want patrolled, then have the drone detect a series of infracting vehicles and it sends a signal to the cameras to take the picture when you pass by.

      While it would cost money to mount the cameras, I imagine if an agency was serious about it, they could recoup costs quickly and after word gets out for a month about the drones at mile marker X, the cameras come down (or better still are replaced with fake cameras to keep people on their toes) and a week later it’s running somewhere else.

      Granted, that’s still a pretty paranoid scenario, but it does get around the positive ID question.

      I hate my imagination sometimes.

  • avatar
    wsimon

    Does anyone know who is the manufacturer of the drones that NJ wants to use? My money would be on some defense lobbyists lurking in the shadows of Trenton right about now.

  • avatar
    Ron

    The solution to not be issued a speeding ticket is to not speed.

    As mentioned by others, technology is already used to identify speeders. Drones would be one more tool, if they are more efficient and less expensive.

    Hopefully, drones will be used to track bad guys fleeing by car. This would be a lot safer than a high-speed chase. Or bad guys fleeing through backyards. This would be a lot less expensive than helicopters. Of course this would ruin cop show on TV!

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      The solution to dangerous driving is safe driving. Which in many instances invloves going faster than the artificially low posted speed limit.

      It would be nice if everything was that simple, but many rules simply don’t take into account reality in many ways.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        Exactly, studies have shown an appropriate speed limit is the 85th percentile speed. Otherwise, you have huge speed differentials in traffic, which is far more dangerous than speed per se.

        • 0 avatar
          Summicron

          Wouldn’t have “huge speed differentials” if nobody exceeded the limit.

          I’d be happy to send you both some complimentary iDrive55 window clings.

          • 0 avatar
            corntrollio

            Sure, but that’s a naive and unrealistic expectation. The reality is that artificially low speed limits create a more dangerous situation.

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            Only if they’re exceeded.

            Besides, what’s a non-artificial speed limit? One geared to the hormone level of aggressive drivers?

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            They’re exceeded when they are artificially low.

            Last year we drove from Pennsylvania to Tennessee. Speed limits varied along the way, depending on the state. What didn’t vary was the speed of traffic. It flowed at about 75-80 mph the entire way.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            “Besides, what’s a non-artificial speed limit? One geared to the hormone level of aggressive drivers?”.

            A good example would be the “speed zone” sections of Texas highway or many of the highways through the mountainous regions of Montana where the speed limits are set high enough that drivers don’t see the need to exceed them.

            Myself, I find 75mph through the hills in Montana to be a bit frightening around dusk.

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            @geeber

            Hell, ALL speed limits are “artificial”. What’s natural about motorized steel boxes zipping along on concrete ribbons or the conrols humans seek to impose upon them.

            Haven’t seen any flying spaghetti monsters or manifestations of Gaia hovering over freeways and dispensing natural law.

            @danio

            My son would know about that Texas system but I don’t. Is that a bifurcation of traffic according to chosen speed ranges? I’d love to see something like that, preferably with dividers between my species and speed freaks.

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            There is a difference between “artificial” and “artificially LOW.”

            You are correct that all speed limits are “artificial” in the sense that they are a number imposed by a branch of government, and not everyone drives at that exact speed.

            But they become “artificially low” if they ignore the speed the majority of drivers choose, on their own. This is where the 85th percentile rule comes into play.

            To some extent, even the police are in on this. In Pennsylvania, on portions of the Turnpike or I-81 where the speed limit is set at 65 mph, the police look the other way if you driving 75 mph, as long as the weather is clear, and you aren’t doing anything stupid (tailgating, constantly switching from lane to lane, etc.).

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            @geeber

            Not saying you’re wrong, I just don’t like having my life dependent upon whatever speed is chosen by the majority of a people who do everything else in their lives to self-destructive excess.

            Giving them 270+ HP vehicles constitutes reckless endangerment. Of ME.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          “studies have shown an appropriate speed limit is the 85th percentile speed.”

          Do you have a source for that?

          The research I’ve seen makes a strong case that the safest condition is when everyone drives the same speed; however, it does not make claims what that speed should be.

          • 0 avatar
            corntrollio

            Yes, there are definitely sources, but they used to be easier to find when Google sucked less than it does now.

            The research says that speed differential is far more dangerous than speed absolute, as you said. Studies have shown that 85th percentile is approximately where you get a reasonably low speed differential, and actual data shows you get low accident risk as well. In addition, it also means most people comply with speed limits (much to police departments’ chagrin). This presentation has a number of charts on this, but you could find several articles on this principle:

            www dot hwysafety dot com/BHSPI_ITE6_Denver090715f dot pdf
            www dot ibiblio dot org/rdu/sl-synth dot html

            FHWA also has guidelines on this, by the way, and it’s based on studies:

            safety.fhwa.dot.gov/speedmgt/ref_mats/fhwasa10001/

            Many studies have shown that the 85th percentile speeds don’t really change much when speed limits are adjusted, and that people don’t automatically go 5 over whenever speed limits are adjusted either.

            There are obviously mitigating circumstances in some of this. If there are particular conditions that are risky, speeds should come down — and people here have already identified some, e.g. as danio said, driving around dusk feels different than in full daylight. If there’s significant pedestrian traffic, such as around a school, you may want to modify a limit, either regularly or temporarily.

            Note that this doesn’t mean that the severity of a crash doesn’t increase with speed — obviously it does. However, the actual number of crashes is generally not increased greatly up to the 85th percentile.

          • 0 avatar
            SoCalMikester

            If it was set at 5mph, no bumpers would be seriously damaged and the only deaths would be heart attacks from old biddies driving panthers…

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            The problem I have with all of it is the whole definition of 85th percentile. It assumes you have a bunch of people driving it any way they feel like, at the speed they feel is safe/prudent, which is as much related to their perception of their own skill & attitudes as the road itself.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        “The solution to dangerous driving is safe driving. Which in many instances invloves going faster than the artificially low posted speed limit.”

        I’ve used a number of justifications for speeding before–I’m late, I’m cranky, I can’t stand being in the car with this person anymore–but safety has never been one of them. What situations are you thinking of?

  • avatar
    raph

    Drones, cell phones, where does it end. The place escapes me but a judge just issued an opinion stating that location data on your phone can be collected by the police without due process. IMO this opens the door for some enterprising government bureaucracy to start using cell towers to monitor the speed of cars as they pass by and alert a ground patrol.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      And yet my provider refuses to give me the location of my own phone through their network citing some BS proprietary information garbage. Perhaps my monopoly of force isn’t threatening enough for them to be scared into complying.

    • 0 avatar
      SoCalMikester

      They already can “crack” your phone on a traffic stop, and even retreive deleted texts from the phones memory…

      for me its more of a “me privacy time” issue, as well as conserving battery, but my phone is OFF DEAD BLANK until i want to make a call or text.

      then i power up and wait the half minute. i look at it this way… ive lives without a portable phone for decades, its MY tool to use as i want.

  • avatar
    LuciferV8

    “Children: Used As A Vague Justification For Tyranny Since About 1950! ”

    Quote of the month. Maybe even the year.

  • avatar

    Our next gen smart phones might have a laser app to shoot them down.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But then I repeat myself. — Mark Twain

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    Baruth, Baruth, Baruth is on fire! He don’t need no water…

    But I digress. The southeast LA suburbs have had police helicopters on patrol since the early 60′s. I see the LA sheriff “ghetto bird” flying around my ‘hood almost daily.

    Sometimes theyre monitoring a crime scene, some times they actually DO look for lost kids. I iumagine hearing your name being blared from a chopper PA over the neighborhood would cause kids to go back home due to embarassment alone.

    A drone could probably do the job much cheaper than a 2 person helicopter. Fit a spotlight and PA, and it seems feasible.

    Id take those over speed cameras any day

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Introduced on April 25, would let police and fire departments use drones for extreme conditions that might be too dangerous for humans, or where existing tools simply wouldn’t work. That’s nice and vague; democrats seem to have the knack of filling the specifics later. Usually much later and with much more egregious terms. To be a Devil’s Advocate can anyone come up with a situation where police drones would be useful/helpful? Devil’s Advocate part two: how weaponized would these drones be?

    • 0 avatar
      SoCalMikester

      O Rly?

      “weapons of mass destruction” was a vague enough term to get HOW many of our soldiers killed in Iraq?

      Whats really funny is that nobody seems to remember we pretty much turned their entire “military arsenal” into scrap back in 1991, and im sure weve been keeping close tabs on them since then.

      And they had nothing to do with 9/11

      And the terrorists were all Saudis.

      Devils Advocate part 1: to replace or supplement police helicopters. They tend to have those in some of the blue states. They go to crime scenes, sometimes follow bad guys.

      Part 2: likely not weaponized at all. one mishap HERE and the program gets shut down. Elsewhere? well, its a war on terror, right? sometimes crap happens.

  • avatar
    skor

    From the picture at the top of the story, it’s obvious that Jack’s been to Newark recently.

  • avatar
    VA Terrapin

    A drone is just another tool, just like a patrol car, radar gun or helicopter. No more, no less.

    What really counts is how laws govern police use of drones. I guess that drones are a lot cheaper than helicopters and Cessnas, so the police should find aerial enforcement of traffic laws easier from a budgetary standpoint. If drones are governed similarly to helicopters and airplanes, there shouldn’t be much difference compared to now except that the police can use more aerial enforcement. If drones are used like photo radar, that should raise more concerns because many places that use photo radar ticket the registered vehicle owner without knowing the actual driver.

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    I have really mixed feelings on this highway drone thing, guys.
    On the one hand, its not any worse or more invasive than monitoring traffic by piloted aircraft; mobile phone GPS readings, or multiple fixed-position cameras.
    On the other hand, its ability to be mobile beyond highways; to be armed; to be present in large numbers; to hover; — does constitute a 4th Amendment problem:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution

    Certainly having the ability for any automated governmental system to photograph my face, my car, or my license plate, WITHOUT my specific permission, may constitute “unreasonable search”, especially when no traffic violation has occurred that could constitute “probable cause”.

    We must also remember that what will start out on “highways” may eventually be on roads, streets, and neighborhoods, for the “common good”, of course. What happens if a drone floats over someone’s backyard “on its way” to a road patrol and photographs private (and perhaps uninhibited) activities of residents? Is there a violation of rights?

    If a drone floats over my backyard, how “tall” is the airspace over my yard? Do I have the right to dispatch a drone that comes into my “airspace” without my permission?

    Just asking….

    ——————–

  • avatar
    CamryStang

    Is this a car site or a batshit-crazy Alex Jones conspiracy site?


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States