By on March 27, 2009

While officials in Europe and the United States insist that “the camera never lies,” motorists around the world are receiving automated tickets for crimes that they did not commit. In Liverpool, England, for example, a speed camera accused the Fiat Punto belonging to Emily Davies, 19, of hurtling down Edge Lane Drive at 37 MPH on March 10 at precisely 10:22pm, exceeding the road’s 30 MPH limit. Confused, Davies asked to see the photograph of her alleged offense. The Merseyside Speed Camera Partnership, hoping she would just pay the £60 (US $87) fine, insisted she would have to go to court to see it. Upon later review, the photograph showed the Ford parked outside the Davies family home, which is located in view of a speed camera. Although Merseyside officials eventually apologized, Davies first had to go through quite a bit of hassle.

When I first disputed the claim, I was told that mistakes are never made,” Davies told London’s Daily Mail newspaper. “That’s just not true. If this has happened to me, it must be happening to other people. It’s a waste of time and money and things should be changed.”

It is happening to other people in Laval, France. There, motorist Delphine Joubert has likewise been victimized by three times by a speed camera located outside of her home. In each case, her car is visible in the ticket photographs — parked, with nobody behind the wheel.

“We must always justify ourselves, writing letters” Joubert told Agence France Presse. “I have other things to do. It’s harassment.”

Another resident in the same building complained of receiving twelve speed camera tickets while parked. Despite the pleas of residents, French officials have shown no interest in investigating the speed camera problems.

In Mannheim, Germany it took a January 21 court ruling for officials to investigate questions regarding the accuracy of Poliscan brand speed cameras. The city hired the private firm Dekra to write a report on the speed camera program. As part of a package of information released this week about the program, Dekra found the automated ticketing machines to be “flawless.”

“In the opinion of experts, there have been no references to incorrect measurements,” a press release boasted. “Thus one can infer the proper operation of the present speed measuring systems.”

Even flawless machinery is subject to the human error of the for-profit firms that operate photo radar in the US. The issue has become so serious in Arizona that Judge Gerald A. Williams, North Valley Justice of the Peace, published an article calling the photo radar program “an extraordinarily bad idea” that the legislature needs to fix.

“At North Valley, part of the problem was due to highway signs, or the lack thereof,” Judge Williams wrote. “For a significant period of time, people received tickets for going 66 or 67 in a 55 MPH zone. The problem was that the temporary 55 MPH sign was often after the camera. As such, we have had hundreds of hearing requests. Thus far, drivers in this category have almost always been found not responsible at their hearing.”

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24 Comments on “Parked Cars Receive Speed Camera Tickets...”

  • avatar

    It is indeed “an extraordinarily bad idea” and it boggles my mind that any municipality or government would stoop so low as to implement it. From the cost of the investigations to determine if the damn things are working properly, I’d imagine there is a net loss overall. Why bother?


  • avatar

    Twelve speeding tickets for a parked car? Even law-abiding me might consider doing the nighttime adjustment the speed camera so desperately needs. A long 2×4 should work. In France, that would be a 51mm x 102mm…. Wonder if playing a laser pointer at it for long enough would be less strenuous? Would that overload the CCD permanently?

  • avatar

    The Big Brother thing doesn’t work, and it’s amazing to me that it’s held up this long. As citizens, we really shouldn’t take this from our local governments. Those jackasses work for us, not the other way around!

  • avatar

    Wonder if playing a laser pointer at it for long enough would be less strenuous? Would that overload the CCD permanently?

    A regular laser pointer, probably not. Now the Laserglow Hercules, on the other hand…. (check the tab marked “capabilities”).

  • avatar

    Quote: When I first disputed the claim, I was told that mistakes are never made,” Davies told London’s Daily Mail newspaper. “That’s just not true. If this has happened to me, it must be happening to other people. It’s a waste of time and money and things should be changed.”

    This has to rank right up there with Apples never lock up or Toyotas never break down or GM doesn’t make fuel efficient vehicles. Speed camaras are total bullshit anyways and a complete waste of taxpayer money. A good city or town law enforcement team should easily be able to do this job. And what happens when someone is caught going 32 MPH in a 30 zone because there Honda speedometer of off 3 or 4 percent and showed they were doing 30? Do they get a camara ticket for that too because the camara never lies?

  • avatar

    How long until we have truly mobile speed camera vans targeting drivers on road?

    I’ve read that the police calibrate their radar guns by driving a set speed and aiming it at a stationary object. Police can clock you with radar (or laser, I’m not certain) while driving from the opposite direction. They just subtract their speed from the results on the radar gun.

    How long until the same principle is applied to UNMARKED ticketing vans? The vans go out and drive around and speed sensors subtract the van’s speed from yours and record video and snap photos from front and rear view.

    And the flashes will blind you and cause you to wreck, or even give veterans flashbacks!

    Since we are talking France, and the UK, I doubt their citizens have any rights, but 12 tickets! I’d be suing the company and municipality for $12 million each for “malicious persecution,” or just plain “harrassment.” $1 million for each instance, sounds fair to me.

  • avatar

    I was recently caught by the very North Valley cameras cited by the Arizona justice of the peace. Victims receive a very impressive mailing which includes a BS technical explanation, a photo (a sublime experience to see yourself driving), and even a link to a web site where you can watch a video of your car as it passes by the speed camera. I figured the sudden unexplained drop from 65 to 55 was before the camera. Now I’m not so sure. Since I don’t live in Arizona I wasn’t about to go back there to fight the citation. Of course they make the fine ever so much less than an airplane ticket to Phoenix.

  • avatar

    it makes perfect sense.
    1) we make it hard to fight the ticket because we know that they’re almost always correct
    2) we know that the tickets are almost always correct, because hardly anybody fights them.

    pretty clear.

  • avatar

    gzuckier: You forgot #3

    3) All violations are reviewed by a local police enforcement official, to determine validity of the violation before the tickets are approved to be sent out.

    Which is a lie, they’ve been caught MANY times violating this little line of B.S.

  • avatar

    Where is the sneaky lawyer that can figure out the trick to ending this? That’s what these guys are supposed to be for.

    Couldn’t we start a movement to have everyone who gets a ticket file a suit and refuse class action?

    Something like that needs to be done so we can put these guys out of business. It’s a shame we can’t get the government to be honest, but since that’s not possible, we need to find another solution.

  • avatar

    [email protected] for the metric conversion!

    Over here in Quebec, I am dreading the month of May. As of May, we have the ignoble honor of getting our first speed cameras.

    Here we gooooo!

  • avatar

    I would’ve destroyed the camera after the second ticket. Not in my back yard indeed.

  • avatar

    So yeah… we have _lots_ of mobile photo radar vans in Edmonton (Canada)…

    … last year, I got three tickets, on three consecutive days, all in the same spot. I wasn’t reckless. I was driving 63 in what I thought was a 60 zone. Turns out it was a 50 zone.

    I tried to argue them (you can do that here), as I would be more than content paying the first one, but the other two were just a blatant jab at low-hanging fruit. There is no “lesson learned”, no “chance to sink in” when someone gets the same ticket 3 days in a row.

    Turns out they are more than happy to take your money. I got ~$60 total taken off the tickets (worked out to about 15%/ticket). Boo.

    And, to top it all off, I had heard that they’re turning all our red-light cameras (+50!) into photo radar as well. There are also a handful of stationary cameras installed but not “activated” yet. So, we have a bit of an epidemic on our hands…

  • avatar

    It’s hard to feel sorry for anybody when it’s their own politicians who implemented this.

    We have red light cameras in Orlando. Just waiting for the first bogus $210 ticket to arrive.

  • avatar

    Just call it what it is already. A transportation tax.

  • avatar

    They are terrible. Actual cops handing out tickets isn’t much better in plenty of places, though. Both are used for revenue generation for the local government rather than safety.

  • avatar

    If they park their car in front of their house, put a lawn chair in front of the tag.

    Ticket the chair.

    Or better yet, borrow someone else’s tag, They do it all the time in London to avoid the congestion tax. What they really need are creative ways to screw with the system. If enough faults and errors creep in they stand a better chance of having it dismantled.

    But the UK is ruled by an iron fist and they traded their privacy for security long ago. That’s a shame. I’ve had UKers in my car and they were surprised there were no speed cameras, red light cameras, cameras period. I guess they were used to having their government spying on them 24 hours a day. What a waste of tax money and resources.

  • avatar

    Public employees using taxpayers’ money to extort more money from them.

    I wonder about corruption too. Is there any way for citizens, not affiliated with either the government nor camera contractors, to review the records of the cameras and the tickets? What mechanisms are there in place to prevent contractors and public employees from voiding their own tickets before they are issued?

    Public employees are taking away your money and your freedom. We pay for their radar and cameras so they can fine us freely, and then they retire and get lavish pensions we pay for.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    Dear MS Davies, send in a picture of the money

  • avatar

    You KNOW you are in trouble when someone says “we don’t make mistakes.” All man-made endeavours have some error rate, period.


  • avatar

    I would’ve destroyed the camera after the second ticket. Not in my back yard indeed.…

    I agree!! If the camera is not too high, you can get a “long arm” that holds a spray can that has a cord to trigger the spray. They are used in construction to mark damaged concrete, etc in high places. Spray the lens black. Or cut the power to it with a cordless sawzall. If nothing else, get a magnetic plate that says “[email protected]#$K You” on it and put it on your plate at night.

  • avatar

    How about a paint ball gun?

  • avatar

    “How about a paint ball gun?”

    Ohhh, yes. Excellent idea.

    Still, twirling something on a string so it takes pics odd things is great. Maybe if you could make it give all the police cars, elected officials, and busses a ticket, that would be extra goodness. You would have to camp out all day, but it could be worth it.

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