Extreme Weather Defeats Speed Cameras

The Newspaper
by The Newspaper
extreme weather defeats speed cameras

Questions are being raised about the reliability of speed cameras in extreme weather conditions as temperatures drop across the globe. Parts of Minnesota, for example, saw lows of -37 degrees Fahrenheit while residents of some areas in North Dakota and Maine braved -8 degree temperatures. A Dutch lawyer is now using a recent cold snap in Amsterdam as the basis for a legal challenge, arguing that any ticket issued outside of the certified temperature range is invalid. In exploring the issue, the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf cited Dutch Meetinstituut (NMi) Senior Product Manager. David Stam explained that fixed speed cameras have sensors that turn off sensitive electronic components when temperatures become too hot or too cold. Stam’s contention is confirmed by a 2007 incident in Finnish Lapland where speed cameras were literally frozen in place, unable to issue citations, as temperatures reached -25 degrees Fahrenheit. Despite the frigid climate, officials had not installed heating units in the devices. Nevertheless, NMi, which relies on government contracts, quickly distanced itself from De Telegraaf’s account the next and said it tests equipment in all conditions.

“It is possible, for example, that equipment is protected at lower temperatures by heating units,” the NMi press release stated.

US speed camera and red light camera equipment is also affected by temperature swings. While some components boast recommended operating temperatures as low as -4 to -13 degrees Fahrenheit, such as the radar units manufactured by AGD and used by Redflex speed vans, others are less tolerant of cold weather. Brochures for the Australian company’s laser-based mobile speed camera product list an operating temperature range of 32 to 122 Fahrenheit.

The camera vendors themselves have bickered about the heat tolerance of rival systems. Lasercraft, for example, cleverly distanced itself from the Nikon DX2 camera used by American Traffic Solutions (ATS) when trying, unsuccessfully, to land a red light camera contract in Florida.

“Most importantly, the camera referenced (Nikon) is not the camera system used by Lasercraft, therefore eliminating this argument that Lasercraft camera systems may not operate properly in varying temperatures,” Lasercraft wrote to officials in the city of Orlando.

Nikon lists a maximum operating temperature of 104 degrees and a low of just 32 for its DX2 model cameras. ATS insists these attacks are absurd. Although the temperature in a parked car in Arizona can easily exceed 120 degrees on a hot day, the ATS speed camera vans can constantly run their motor to provide air conditioning.

“The cameras have been aggressively tested for humidity in Houston and Southeast Asia, for searing heat in the Arizona desert, and in sub-zero temperatures in Calgary, Alberta Canada,” ATS explains in its sales material.

In 2007, a UK motorist asked the Avon and Somerset Speed Camera Partnership for any documentation regarding the operating temperatures in which the area’s speed cameras were certified to operate. Officials responded that they did not know the answer

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  • Phargophil Phargophil on Jan 14, 2009

    Yesterday's low temp was -27F, today's low was -22F and tomorrow's is forecast to be -30F. We love it here.

  • SexCpotatoes SexCpotatoes on Jan 15, 2009

    It's not a failing, it's a feature! It would be lascivious to take pictures in any temperature that might cause hard nipples or flushed cheeks.

  • Damon Thomas Adding to the POSITIVES... It's a pretty fun car to mod
  • GregLocock Two adjacent states in Australia have different attitudes to roadworthy inspections. In NSW they are annual. In Victoria they only occur at change of ownership. As you'd expect this leads to many people in Vic keeping their old car.So if the worrywarts are correct Victoria's roads would be full of beaten up cars and so have a high accident rate compared with NSW. Oh well, the stats don't agree.https://www.lhd.com.au/lhd-insights/australian-road-death-statistics/
  • Lorenzo In Massachusetts, they used to require an inspection every 6 months, checking your brake lights, turn signals, horn, and headlight alignment, for two bucks.Now I get an "inspection" every two years in California, and all they check is the smog. MAYBE they notice the tire tread, squeaky brakes, or steering when they drive it into the bay, but all they check is the smog equipment and tailpipe emissions.For all they would know, the headlights, horn, and turn signals might not work, and the car has a "speed wobble" at 45 mph. AFAIK, they don't even check EVs.
  • Not Tire shop mechanic tugging on my wheel after I complained of grinding noise didn’t catch that the ball joint was failing. Subsequently failed to prevent the catastrophic failure of the ball joint and separation of the steering knuckle from the car! I’ve never lived in a state that required annual inspection, but can’t say that having the requirement has any bearing on improving safety given my experience with mechanics…
  • Mike978 Wow 700 days even with the recent car shortages.