Guilt-tripping Radar Speed Signs Could Soon Read Your Plate

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
guilt tripping radar speed signs could soon read your plate

Modern society seems to be divided into two camps — those who say, “If you aren’t doing anything wrong, why would you have a problem with [expanded government power A]?” and those who drop their copy of Reason in horror as each new measure designed to make society “safer” erodes their perceived freedom just a little bit more.

The former group will cheer this news, though the latter camp will surely decry our steeper descent into a Surveillance State. Those annoying roadside signs that flash your current speed might soon record your plate number.

Between CCTV cameras in and around businesses, photo radar, red light cameras, and automated licence plate recognition (ALPR) cameras in police cars (and on certain highways, crossings, and checkpoints), we’ve grown used to the idea that we’re constantly on camera. Not happy with it, in many cases, but used to it nonetheless.

According to Quartz, U.S. federal contracting data shows that the Drug Enforcement Agency wants to go beyond its existing ALPR network and place cameras in radar speed signs. Usually, these trailer-mounted signs are placed on collector or residential roads where residents or police complain about a sustained speeding issue. Solar power keeps them running remotely.

ALPR cameras stash your plate data for a varying length of time, allowing law enforcement to look for vehicles involved — or suspected of being involved — in crime, though they can also be used to fine you for driving with expired plates, etc. Given its mandate, the DEA isn’t concerned with an otherwise law-abiding citizen’s slightly expired tags. They’re on the lookout for big fish. Still, that doesn’t mean the data can’t be passed on to local law enforcement.

The document shows the DEA intends to award a sole-source contract to Arizona’s RU2 Systems Inc. for the speed signs, then convert them into their intended dual-function role. “These platforms are in high demand by DEA division offices across the country, and will be utilized on a continuous basis for constant and targeted LPR acquisition efforts in rural and difficult to cover areas where LPR fixed or other mobile applications are not effective or available,” the document reads.

Covering more ground is what this initiative is all about, but civil libertarians will certainly have a problem with more ALPRs on America’s roads. It’s not just plates ALPRs take photos of, either — some record images of the drivers. With that data, anyone can track a vehicle’s movements, seeing where the owner was (or went) on a given day. In short, it is seen as a violation of privacy. Some states place limits on how long law enforcement can retain collected plate data; most do not.

The proliferation of DEA cameras along highways in the Southwestern U.S. has already prompted a backlash from the ACLU.

[Image: RU2 Systems]

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  • Stuki Stuki on Oct 05, 2018

    The elephant in the room, are license plates themselves. No different than the "papers" the indoctrinati are told were somehow diiiiferent in the Soviet Union. Of course the rancher is going to use the tag on his livestock for whatever he darned well pleases. As that is why he branded them in the first place. Indocrinati being indoctrinati, the pagan god of "demooocraciii" will be just as effective dealing with this as they were closing Gitmo. Over time, cameras will be cheap and prevalent enough that anyone can be recorded anywhere. Hence will be. But thankfully not just by taxfeeders and ambulance chasers on the make. But also by civic minded individuals, who will put every car and driver's whereabouts every second up for anyone in the public to access. Searchable by easily read license plates. Maybe then, the drones will catch on. If not, at least some in the enforcement apparatus, who tend to make enemies, will start lobbying for "exceptions." As the privileged always do wrt the progressive idiocy they champion for "those other people." Which, with any luck, can get the ball rolling on hollowing out the nonsense.

  • Mike-NB2 Mike-NB2 on Oct 06, 2018

    Turning law enforcement into a profit centre for government is never a good idea. I recall years ago a judge commented that law enforcement needed some inefficiencies built into it. Now back to my copy of Reason that I dropped on the floor...

  • Jeff S Some of us don't care either way we are not into this type of car. Most of these will be stored in garages waiting for their value to go up. As someone above noted this is an old body style which is retro 70s Challenger which after researching it came out in the 2008 MY which means a long run for a model that is in its 16th year. I have always liked these but if I bought one I would not spend this kind of money on one probably get the V-6 version and use it as a family car but then I am not into drag racing or muscle cars. For the type of car it is it has a decent rear seat and not too bad of a trunk. Most of us are not going to spend 100k for any vehicle at least currently so its not something most of us will buy and stick in a garage waiting for its value to increase. I am glad that these editions came out for those who can afford them and it keeps a little more color into what has become a very dull vehicle market but then with age I pick the dull appliance like reliable vehicle because that's what I need. Impressive car but not for me.
  • Jonathan The Germans. So organized they can appear disorganized. I agree with some others, classic names like Thunderbird, Imperial, Grand Prix, Ambassador etc. just have more appeal.
  • Bobbysirhan A friend had one when they first came out. He was CFO of some green California company and could charge the Volt at work. At home, the PHEV gave him an excuse to make his wife park her nicer car outdoors while the Volt get their condo's one-car garage. He liked the Volt, and he spent very little on energy during the 'first one's free!' era of EV ownership. Of course, the green company went bust soon after, and he wound up with a job that involved far more driving and ultimately the need for a more substantial car. I drove the Volt once after his wife had made a return trip to Los Angeles, depleting the battery. I don't know what a first gen Volt drives like with a charged battery, but it was really gutless with two adults, a yellow lab, and a dead battery. My other memory of it was that it had a really cramped back seat for a car that was about as large as a Civic. My friend who bought it liked it though, and that's not always been the case for GM vehicles.
  • MrIcky I think the Shakedown is more my speed of the last call editions- but this is impressive.
  • Dukeisduke I tried watching the live reveal last night, but after 15 minutes of jawing by MT+ personalities (and yes, I like Chris Jacobs and Alex Taylor), I turned it off.