Traffic Monitoring Data Going to the Dashboard


If you’ve got­ten a traf­fic tick­et late­ly for run­ning a red light that was tak­en by a mon­i­tor­ing cam­era, you may be sur­prised to also receive a pro­mo­tion­al let­ter from a defense lawyer. The attor­ney will explain the legal vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty of munic­i­pal­i­ties using these devices, encour­ag­ing you to chal­lenge it in court.

Will traf­fic mon­i­tor­ing cam­eras meet the goals of munic­i­pal­i­ties, or will they lose sup­port and go away? They’ve been ban­ished by Hous­ton vot­ers and face legal chal­lenges in Mis­souri. In New York City, they’re being tried out with­out being seen by dri­vers. Safe­ty advo­cates pro­mote them as effec­tive tools and oppo­nents crit­i­cize them for only gen­er­at­ing rev­enue. It hasn’t gone too smooth­ly.

Now the bat­tle­ground has been mov­ing to the dash­board as an increas­ing num­ber of gad­gets and built-in sys­tems become avail­able. Automak­ers such as Gen­er­al Motors and Maz­da are alert­ing dri­vers to the loca­tions of cam­eras that pho­to­graph speed­ers and red-light vio­la­tors and issue cita­tions.

It’s not entire­ly new – portable nav­i­ga­tion devices from Tom­Tom, smart­phone apps like Waze, and radar detec­tors like the Escort Pass­port Max, have made this infor­ma­tion acces­si­ble to dri­vers. The loca­tion of the cam­eras can come from sev­er­al sources. Nav­i­ga­tion com­pa­nies con­stant­ly update their data­base of alerts, rely­ing on crowd-sourced dri­ver reports to mark the posi­tions of cam­eras.

Cities like Bal­ti­more and Chica­go list the loca­tions of cam­eras online and post con­spic­u­ous warn­ing signs at mon­i­tored inter­sec­tions, with the intent of warn­ing dri­vers about dan­ger­ous loca­tions. The goal is to get peo­ple to be more care­ful in their dri­ving – show­ing this infor­ma­tion can be a deter­rent, said Sachin Lawande, pres­i­dent of Har­man International’s info­tain­ment divi­sion.



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