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High-tech speed camera checks insurance, seat belt

By Claes Bell ·
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Posted: 10 am ET

Speed cameras aren't exactly the most popular devices among motorists, but they may be about to get more annoying. The Daily Mail is reporting government officials in Finland are testing a camera that not only has the ability to ticket speeders, but can also assess whether you're wearing a seat belt, tailgating the car in front of you or are behind on your registration or auto insurance. If the camera, dubbed the ASSET, detects a violation, it uses a satellite uplink to send the information to police instantly.

The system, which costs about $80,000 a pop, is being tested for the European market, where speed cameras are much more widespread than in the U.S. But with more and more municipalities in the U.S. adopting speed cameras to supplement budgets with fine income and to reduce the number of police officers on the payroll, it’s not a stretch to think it may make it to U.S. shores eventually.

I've got mixed feelings on this. I know obeying speeding laws benefits public safety and all. But I have to admit I hate the few speed cameras deployed in my area. Even when I'm sure I'm not violating any traffic laws, something about driving past a speed camera makes me feel really tense. Maybe it's the fact you don't have any idea at the time that you're in trouble and instead get a $300 surprise in the mail.

Still, I think tailgating and not wearing your seat belt are probably more dangerous behaviors than driving a few miles over the speed limit, so if we're going to have robotic enforcement, let's enforce traffic rules that actually save lives.

What do you think? Are these advanced speed cameras a good idea? Would you want them on busy streets in your neighborhood?

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November 10, 2010 at 10:27 am

In my area the local law enforcement took down some of the cameras that were on the traffic lights because when the light would turn yellow so many people would jam their brakes and cause accidents in fear that if they went through they would be getting one of those "surprises" you mentioned. This new camera will probably only make it worse.

November 09, 2010 at 4:03 pm

I will have to agree with Ryan. Also, I would perfer to employ a officer than a camera. A paycheck to an office can stimulate the economy.

November 09, 2010 at 12:49 pm

I don't like cameras at all. Governments only put cameras in place to increase revenue. They use the excuse that they reduce accidents and deaths. I don't think there is any evidence whatsoever that speeding cameras reduce traffic accidents or deaths. In fact, they probably create them. On a busy freeway, cars will slow down at the camera spots, creating more bottle-necks near those spots and more potential for accidents. Then the cars speed up after passing the cameras. People need to get to work and back home at a fast pace because of the threat of being fired for showing up late. Most areas of the country the average speed is 10 mph over the posted limit. People are in a hurry all the time. It is just the type of society we live in. We move at the speed of business. When traffic is allowed to freely move, that carries the lowest probability for accidents, because traffic is allowed to flow at a natural rate and there aren't as many times where you would be required to hit the brakes or the gas. Cameras create more opportunity for driver errors, therefore create accidents.