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UK To Passively Monitor Every Vehicle 703

DrSkwid writes "The UK Police are building a network to monitor the movement of every vehicle in the U.K. through an extensive Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system. The data will be retained for 2 years. The Register further reports that the system will likely be used for issuing speeding fines." From the article: "The primary aims claimed for the system are tackling untaxed and uninsured vehicles, stolen cars and the considerably broader one of 'denying criminals the use of the roads.' But unless the Times has got the spacing wrong, having one every quarter of a mile on motorways quite clearly means they'll be used to enforce speed limits as well, which would effectively make the current generation of Gatsos obsolete. Otherwise, checking a vehicle's tax and insurance status every 15 seconds or thereabouts would seem overkill."
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UK To Passively Monitor Every Vehicle

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  • What's a Gatso?

    Don't misread that you dyslexic perv.
    • Re:What's a Gatso? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:45PM (#14038982) Journal
      A type of speed camera. []
    • The cameras used in a lot of European countries to monitor traffic and catch speeders. There's site with dozens of pictures of vandalized Gatsos somewhere out there.
    • It's an automatic radar gun. Sits on the side of the road and waits for speeders. Takes a picture, and a few weeks later (fortnight?) you get a ticket in the mail.

    • Re:What's a Gatso? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by lakin ( 702310 )
      Gatso is the current yellow-back speed cameras, which uses the

      These new speed cameras (called SPECS) are already deployed on some parts of motorways and a few A roads (they look like yellow CCTV cameras), which have two cameras spaced about a mile apart and they calculate your average speed.

      Either way, i think these new systems are generally a good idea. Speeding is a problem, and the current speed cameras can in some areas cause more accidents than they save. I think all we need now are more dynamic speed
      • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @09:38PM (#14040290)
        Speeding is a problem

        That is very debatable. The speed limits here in the UK are now so absurd in many places that the vast majority of motorists exceed the limit, yet no accidents ever result (literally; speed limits have been dropped on roads that haven't had even a minor injury accident in a decade).

        This is just another power play by Blair's dictatorship and his ever more draconian Home Secretaries, right along with ID cards for everyone, the National Identity Register, electronic strip searching on the way onto the London Underground, the RIP Act, detention without trial for as long as they can get away with, installing CCTV everywhere (yes, we're still the most spied-upon nation in the world), reversing the burden of proof and/or attempting to do away with jury trials for increasing numbers of cases...

        All of these things, of course, are "justified" by arguing that they increase national security, help to prevent crime, or otherwise benefit Joe Public. Unless he's in the wrong place at the wrong time, in which case he loses his benefits because some junior staffer in a government office mistyped one number out of 1,000 they entered that day into the master database. Or the ANPR system misreads a number plate, and sends him a fine for doing the physically impossible, which he then has to challenge in court after several weeks of concern, with no compensation for the time wasted or grief caused. Or his daughter's the one being rendered naked for the pervert watching the screens at the Underground station. Or he's late for the train, and since he ran through the screen he's obviously a terrorist so they shoot him dead. Or he's black, old, bald, young, or a registered member of an opposition political party, the biometric recognition doesn't work, and he's held for three months as a suspected terrorist on the whim of a senior politician, by which time he's lost his job, his home, and the trust of all his family and friends, not to mention the ability to challenge the statements of absolute fact issued by our political leaders (and I use the term loosely, since they didn't even win the popular vote in England, never mind an overall majority that might justify their absolute control of parliament, not that this particular abuse ever went before parliament) to justify all these Big Brother efforts.

        I used to think the tin foil hat brigade were eccentrics. In recent years, looking at the direction New Labour have taken our government, I think the sooner we have a written constitution and a constitutional court above parliament and answerable only to the public, the better.

        • by Anne Thwacks ( 531696 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @05:17AM (#14042045)
          Tony Blair's government seems to think that Big Brother (1984 version) was way to moderate with surveyance, and would love to have people issued with passes that can be checked every 100m by Zigbee or Bluetooth or something.

          The British government has proposed a "National Corriculum" for Under 5 year olds and in a year when there are riots in Paris. (The Paris uprising in 1968 was because the teaching curriculum was too rigid).

          And if you don't support him, you must be an Al Quaida suporter. A member of his own party was arrested at the party conference for pointing out that Jack Straw is completely dishonest. He was charged under the Prevention of Terrorism act. However, they want the power to hold people for 90 days with no charge whatever, in case they notice that some other ministers are "economical with the truth".

          The words neurotic, obsesssive, compulsive, posessive, paranoid, manic, and several less polite ones come to mind.

          The only reason they are in power is because "her majesty's Loyal opposition"'s slogan is "we are the party of convictions" - most have several for corruption, libel, slander, purjury, and other things that normally bar you from high office.

          I suspect that the Robert Mugabe's complaints against Blair are fuelled by jelousy over the ease with which these controls are imposed (no need to deport inner city kids to remote Scottish islands, etc).

        • by smoker2 ( 750216 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @05:44AM (#14042121) Homepage Journal
          it's the people who are speeding that matters. Can you guarantee that everyone breaking the speed limit has the ability to handle the vehicle properly ? Driving involves quite a lot of common sense, and sadly, these days I see less and less of it.

          I am a professional driver, and see this every day. The motorways are full of people who are too scared to use the outside lane when neccessary, but who drive in the centre lane almost obsessively. Consequently, when they come up behind a slower moving vehicle in the centre lane, they brake, causing following traffic to either, brake hard themselves, or, swerve into the outside lane, regardless of the traffic situation. This is what causes pile-ups. I drive for miles on virtually empty motorways sometimes and there are still lines of cars in the centre lane, usually only 20 or 30 feet behind each other. There is another problem with this - when I have to overtake a vehicle in the left hand lane, I have to 'break into' this line of cars somehow. This is difficult when they are only 20 feet apart, so I have to pull out much sooner, and stake my claim before they pull alongside.

          I could go on for hours about the bad things that are happening on the roads, but speeding is the least of my worries. My truck has a tachograph, so anytime the police wants to stop me, they can tell instantly whether I've been speeding or not. Why should the car drivers be exempt from this ? Bad driving is the real issue, and nothing much is being done about it. I am fed up with seeing females negotiating junctions with their right hand holding a phone to their left ear and their left hand on the right hand side of the steering wheel. Sometimes the right hand has a piece of food in it as well ! No-one can argue that that behaviour is safe, either for them or others.

          In the end, there are too many cars on the road, driven by very basically qualified people. No one forced them into this situation. The free market sold these people cars and the idea of freedom, so they can't really complain that they need a car to get to work, the shops, whatever. It's down to their buying habits that turned villages into dormitories for workers who have to drive 50 miles to work everyday. Either people find alternative ways to work (internet based etc) or live closer to the place of employment.

          How long can the country as a whole be held to ransom by the car ? The government can't ban cars outright, but they can make it as difficult (read expensive) as possible to own and operate one.

          As a disclaimer, I must add that I ride a GSX1100 suzuki, and so speeding is a virtual certainty, but even then, it is so much harder to find adequate space in which to do so, because of the unpredictability of the other traffic. But as a motorcyclist, I know with painful certainty what a mistake at speed will mean. I have in the past fallen off and hit the road at over 60 mph, and it's not fun believe me. So, hands up all those car drivers who have intimate knowledge of the surface of the road. Apart from motorcyclists / cyclists, there aren't any hands showing. This is where it has gone wrong. Every driver should be aware of the road surface in front of them, the temperature, how wet the road is, what white lines feel like as you go over them. That's where true control comes from, being aware of your surroundings.

          Instead, they have the heating up high, the sound turned up, and sit in the middle lane eating and talking on their phones, and hope that no-one gets in their way until they get to work.

          I for one won't miss their departure from the environment, and sad to say, they deserve everything they get in the mean time.

          • I'd just like to add to this that the government seems hell bent on making driving expensive, but this is not out of any concern for the environment or as a backdoor ban on driving; they want us driving and paying through the nose for it.

            Otherwise how do you explain new housing estates being built with no public transport links and no local shops - only a Tesco superstore five or ten miles away? Or how do you explain business parks built with no public transport access?

            My company relocated from a town centr
          • I am fed up with seeing females negotiating junctions with their right hand holding a phone to their left ear and their left hand on the right hand side of the steering wheel.

            Your whole argument was so well written and insightful right up to this point. Why did you have to blemish a perfectly good comment by singling out women drivers. It only weakens your entire comment, which was otherwise very well put.

            I've seen plenty of drivers talking on their phones. About 50% of them were women. I've also seen peopl
      • Re:What's a Gatso? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @09:57PM (#14040382)
        You can just imagine them changing the taxes so you are taxed more the more you drive.
        Newsflash: they can already do this. It's called the gasoline tax -- the more gas you buy, the more you pay in taxes.

        However, I agree that these cameras have bad implications for civil liberties -- and far beyond just traffic offenses. Once they're tracking you, they can be monitoring to see if you're engaging in any "terrorist-like" behavior, such as planning protests against an opressive government.

        Of course, this just makes me glad I don't live in Airstrip One.

        By the way, even if speeding were a problem, in this case the "solution" is worse.
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:41PM (#14038929)
    having one every quarter of a mile on motorways quite clearly means they'll be used to enforce speed limits as well,

    Does this mean drag-racers can practise on the highway and get away with it?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:41PM (#14038931)
    That we in the colonies won the war and started a country that didn't take away our rights and treat us like criminals.
    • by oddaddresstrap ( 702574 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @07:09PM (#14039235)
      You forgot the "oh, wait..." part.
  • Thanks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by keesh ( 202812 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:41PM (#14038933) Homepage
    I'd just like to say thanks for trying to waste my hard-earned tax money on this, rather than going out and using it for something useful like fixing the sorry state of our education system or making the NHS ever so slightly less pathetic.
    • Why upset (Score:3, Insightful)

      by WindBourne ( 631190 )
      This is simply a voluntary tax system. Want to help your gov.? Simply speed.

      Besides, maybe they use the new money to fix some of the other systems or perhaps increase the police.
      • Re:Why upset (Score:5, Informative)

        by D-Cypell ( 446534 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @07:33PM (#14039441)
        maybe they use the new money to fix some of the other systems or perhaps increase the police.

        Unfortunatly, it is more likely that the money will be distributed around the various family members of government officials who 'happen' to own services companies who amazingly seem to always win those cushy government contracts.

        It is not widely known that the NHS often use private ambulance companies. When my mother was in the hospital I got talking to a few staff at the hospital and they let me on on how much the NHS pays for a 15 min ambulance journey between two London hospitals. It is an absolutely disgusting figure and given that my terminally ill mother was left in a seriously uncomfortable state for hours while she waited for an ambulance I can assure you that we do not get our money's worth.

        They will put up speed cameras to generate wealth for a government who tells us that it is a choice between raised 'tax' or lower public spending. Very rarely will they mention the waste that is so pervasive in our public services. I suspect because if anyone were to look into the books to investigate this waste they would find corruption that runs all the way up to downing street.

        It is just easier to pretend there isnt a distinction between driving fast and driving dangerously (and I have seen dangerous driving within the speed limit and also quite safe driving above the speed limit). Of course, it is far more difficult to punish dangerous driving using a device that will work 24/7/365 and doesnt require a salary!
        • Re:The irony (Score:3, Insightful)

          by symbolic ( 11752 )
          Very rarely will they mention the waste that is so pervasive in our public services.

          It might be interesting to note that (at least in the US) the public has been clamoring for the privitization of certain government services, thinking it would save money. The joke's on them. Many private companies, once they get their hand on the public teat, won't let go, and milk it for all they can. This is where these astronomically-prised ambulance rides come in. I can't seem to figure it out, but people in government
      • by henni16 ( 586412 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @09:42PM (#14040312)
        I think that this will probably cost them money.
        If you know that you will be "caught" and have to pay everytime you speed, you probably won't do it if you really don't have to.
        So my guess is that they will spend a lot of money to install such a system and afterwards will lose lots of money because of less people speeding.
        I think it is more likely that the system will be used to create a giant toll system.
  • by multipartmixed ( 163409 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:43PM (#14038953) Homepage
    Lenina Huxley, you are fined one-half credit for a sotto voce violation of the Verbal Morality Statute. Additionally, you are fined 120 credits per infraction of the Safe Speed Statutes, for exceeding the speed limit of 45 miles per hour on the freeway 72 times this morning. Be Happy!
  • Another reason (Score:5, Interesting)

    by VJ42 ( 860241 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:43PM (#14038955)
    Yet another reason for me to want to emigrate from the UK, what with ID cards, and 90 days detention without trial etc.(Thankfully the latter was defeated in parliment). At this rate, with ever more draconian laws I'll be able to claim asylum.
    • Or you could do what we did, have a revolution!
      The UK Gov't hasn't given us a whole heck of a lot of trouble since...
      • Re:Another reason (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:52PM (#14039054)
        > > Yet another reason for me to want to emigrate from the UK, what with ID cards, and 90 days detention without trial etc.(Thankfully the latter was defeated in parliment). At this rate, with ever more draconian laws I'll be able to claim asylum.
        > Or you could do what we did, have a revolution!
        > The UK Gov't hasn't given us a whole heck of a lot of trouble since...

        Ah yes, flee UK ID cards and 90-day detention without trial for the balmy shores of the United States, with REAL ID, and, umm... indefini... aaw fuck.

        As the gray of November gives way to a long cold winter for Western Civilization, the UK's forgotten stepchild (Canada, eh?) is beginning to look warm and sunny by comparison.

        • Re:Another reason (Score:4, Interesting)

          by dfjunior ( 774213 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:56PM (#14039106)
          I didn't say come to the U.S., I said have a revolution.
          • A large proportion here in the UK are too lazy or ignrant to have a revolution (as demonstrated by majority public support for detention without trial), Emigration to Canada, sounds better with every passing week.
      • > The UK Gov't hasn't given us a whole heck of a lot of trouble since...

        Really they fuc8ed you over big time. If they hadn't gone with you on the Iraq war fiasco then Iraq II would not have happened and you Yanks would still have a reasonably good international reputation. The UK gov plan is to make the US look so bad that the UK can lead Europe as this centuries only super power.

        God shave the Queen!

      • Re:Another reason (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Tango42 ( 662363 )
        What's the point of a revolution in a democracy? You're more likely to persuade people to vote for you than fight for you.
        • You're more likely to persuade people to vote for you than fight for you.

          Unfortunately, as the UK system so kindly demonstrated a few months ago, a "democracy" can still be a place where winning the support of only 22% of the population eligible to vote (and only thirtysomething percent of those who actually did vote), not to mention losing the popular vote in the largest single country in the union (England), is still enough to get you a comfortable absolute majority in parliament, with which you can p

    • Fight this (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cortana ( 588495 )
      If you have not done so already, get in contact with your local branch of No2ID []. Sign the I refuse [] pledge (or at least the I support [] pledge). Lobby your MP [] and your councillors: many councils across the UK are passing resolutions to forbid government services from requiring their users to have ID cards.
  • by ViperG ( 673659 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:43PM (#14038957) Homepage Journal
    I remember seeing something like this technology being tested with police. They setup a unit like this (might be the same thing) on a busy road. Anyways, a few hours later, the system caught a few stolen cars, speeders, and few other things, that led to a record number of arrests that day.

    Kinda werid though, for some reason it reminds me of 1984.
  • by mandreko ( 66835 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:44PM (#14038962) Homepage
    this could be a very interesting tool. Other than it's privacy issues of course, it could be used in some neat ways.

    Let's say you have a criminal who has been busted for drug charges. You could then find out where he's been, and probably track down where he gets his stuff from, and take it straight up the channels to the big guys.

    Or does it not work that way?
    • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:47PM (#14039010) Homepage Journal
      And if you had stopped your car next to his to ask for directions it would look like you did a drug deal. Good enough reason to search your home, car, and office. I am sure that your boss, family, and the people living next door would understand...
      I am not a privacy nut but this seems just wrong.
      • ... despite the UK's continual attempts to make it easier to incarcerate people without trial, it does require motive, means, and opportunity, not to mention some evidence of a crime, rather than a conversation to get arrested/charged. There is always the option of wrongful arrest, if the police try to take it too far...

        In general, though, I'm very disappointed. Christ, I thought geting rid of "lockemup, lockemALLup" Blunkett was a good thing. Looks like we swapped the frying pan for the fire :-(

        • Please crawl out from under the rock where you've been living.

          At least here in the U.S., the arrest gets all the press. An acquittal NEVER gets nearly as much press. Case in point, recently nine women attending two fraternity parties near the University of Colorado were taken to the hospital for alcohol poisoning. It was front-page news for several days when two of the women apparently tested positive for GHB, a "date-rape" drug. One of the frats has actually had its local chapter closed down for the

  • I predict... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pantero Blanco ( 792776 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:44PM (#14038963)
    One group of people asking why the English let their government run roughshod over them, and a group of Brits claiming that they fully understand the reasons behind the measures their government is taking and are willing to endure scrutiny for the public good.

    1984 wasn't set in America.
    • In addition,t he 2'nd group will say that if you are not doing anything illegal, that you have nothing to fear.
    • ... of pedants who point out that Britain != England.

    • Re:I predict... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:51PM (#14039052) Journal
      I've always felt that if the government wants to put us under that much surveillance, then I think we should have surveillance on the politicians that give the thumbs up to these proposals, the people that administer the system and the people that access. They should be forced to wear microphones, they should be monitored, with their every move accessible by the public.

      If they really feel that privacy is an extinguishable notion, then they should be the ones to suffer that loss of it the very most. If they are unwilling to put up with this intrusion, then they can bloody well stop demanding intrusions on the common citizen.

      • Re:I predict... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by DrSkwid ( 118965 )
        Even as the poster of this story, I'm with you.

        Information wants to be free and all that.

        I think we should all have access to all the CCTV cameras.

        In Ian M. Bank's sci-fi books, the culture have droids that will follow you and record your every details so you can watch it later, and that other people can have access to. You can turn them off but people in The Culture generally have nothing to hide. If your citizens are hiding stuff, you're society is wrong :)
      • Re:I predict... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @07:34PM (#14039459) Journal
        If they really feel that privacy is an extinguishable notion, then they should be the ones to suffer that loss of it the very most. If they are unwilling to put up with this intrusion, then they can bloody well stop demanding intrusions on the common citizen.
        No, in fact I suspect that politicians will be exempt from this system, perhaps by means of a 'VIP list', that lists license plates not to be sent down to the central servers. Otherwise, a terrorist could hack the system and find out where each politician is, for easy assasination. The current obession with security works for them the same way it works against us.
  • by Peter La Casse ( 3992 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:45PM (#14038975)
    Perhaps now the "silent majority" (people who speed) will elect officials who will raise speed limits or lower speeding penalties.

    Ok, never mind.

  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:45PM (#14038977)
    > "The primary aims claimed for the system are tackling untaxed and uninsured vehicles, stolen cars and the considerably broader one of 'denying criminals the use of the roads.'

    In other news, the Atlantic Ocean is described as being "considerably broader" than the English Channel.

    But these are folks whose pet name for the gulf of water separating North America from Europe as "the pond".

    One might go further and suggest that British people are prone to occasional tendencies towards understatement.

  • Speed Limit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PresidentEnder ( 849024 ) <> on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:46PM (#14038990) Journal
    I just hope that the US doesn't adopt this idea.
    • Re:Speed Limit (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by aussie_a ( 778472 )
      If that's all this was, I'd have no problem with it. Speeding fines are a voluntary tax. Everyone is able to stop paying them whenever they want. You just have to do this funny thing called "follow the law." If you want to be able to do whatever speed you want (like on the german Autobahn (spelling?)) then petition your congress critters (and work towards it with like-minded people and not giving up after one letter) or move to Germany.

      However this isn't the only issue with these cameras. There's the privac
  • Not in America (Score:4, Informative)

    by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:46PM (#14038993) Journal
    Good thing that America [] does not have a way to track us. []
  • The point to point speeding measurements are much fairer than the spot speeding checks. For example if you average 150MPH down the freeway over 1km you can't really complain when you get busted. If however you get caught at 150MPH when passing a truck at the unfortunate location of a Gatso then that may just be bad luck.
    • I have to say I totally agree with this.

      There are times when the offence of speeding is hardly justified as a safety issue. Overtaking is one such time when, done properly, one may need to exceed the speed of the vehicle one is passing..

      Of course one could have fun with this. After passing one vehicle registration plate recognition camera at 150MPH one could slam on the brakes and park on the motorway for a minute or so.. then drop the clutch and zoom off again..!

    • If however you get caught at 150MPH when passing a truck at the unfortunate location of a Gatso then that may just be bad luck.

      Aaah, no. That's not bad luck. That's illegal. Speeding to overtake somebody (unless that person is a danger to yourself, in which case you should report it to the police ASAP, if only to get out of a speeding fine) is illegal and dangerous. If the truck is driving slowly, then you are able to overtake them without speeding. Otherwise you should have no reason to overtake the truck.
  • This isn't so bad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mgv ( 198488 ) <> on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:52PM (#14039058) Homepage Journal
    I've always felt that these sorts of measures are alot better than the speed enforment that we have in Australia and many other places - The hidden multinova cameras that police now use here.

    If you really want to stop speeding, this is the way to do it. All the time. Everywhere.

    If it sounds radical, well at least it will mean that in the long run the speed limits themselves will have to be adjusted to something that is reasonable, rather than what has happened in most countries - speed limits that were set but which are only enforced a very tiny fraction of the time.

    Also, getting done for doing too fast an average speed is far more important than getting unlucky for doing an instantaneous speed that is too fast at some random point in your trip. Almost everyone speeds a little at some time - unless you only use cruise control to drive with you will always run the risk of going too fast at some point when you aren't looking at your speedo. (And, its not exactly safe to drive the whole trip whilst looking only at your speed)

    As for the privacy issues.

    Well, I think its a little too late for anyone in the UK (maybe anywhere, really) to get worried about that. Look at the congestion tax in the UK (Automatic licence plate recognition). Look also at the ability to obtain a list of every base station that your mobile is associated with - the phone companies can do this if requested by a magistrate, although that usually only done in murder cases or similar. Look at the number of CCTV's that proliferate in every public place.

    Unfortunatly, the invasion into our privacy has only just begun. There is no techonlogical way to avoid this - it will only get worse. Soon enough automatic facial recognition will be connected to all the CCTV's around and you will be trackable just for being visible. You can identify people by the way that they walk. Some systems now can identify potential suicides in the happening in train stations by the typical behaviour people make prior to jumping in front of trains.

    The only solution to the privacy issues are legislative ones. You can't stop this level of data collection anymore, all we can do is ensure that only certain legitimate uses for it exist. This is the only way that any of us will have real protection in the future - if its in a constitution or in legislation.

    Just my 2c worth,

    • by oolon ( 43347 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @07:27PM (#14039390)
      The thing is speeding is not actually the problem they need to solve, accidents are. With the level of cameras now on the road, I find I am paying far more attention to, what the last speed sign said, where the next camera is and how fast I am going. However what i probably should be doing is looking at the road conditions, other vehicles and people/objects near the road for potental hazards. When i drove through nottingham on the M1 there is an average speed check, and it keeps you on edge all the time, the road was of minor importance like wise other cars, my speed was my primary consern as it was with other drivers, you can see this from cars "wandering" onto the lane divisions. Two months ago I got my first speeding ticket ever and have been driving for 10 years. Not to much of a problem, but its getting easier to make mistakes and get caught, at 3+ points each its getting all to easy to hit 12 points in 3 years and get banned. I am starting to think people should get one "free" offence a year.

      • by Bogtha ( 906264 )

        Two months ago I got my first speeding ticket ever and have been driving for 10 years. Not to much of a problem, but its getting easier to make mistakes and get caught, at 3+ points each its getting all to easy to hit 12 points in 3 years and get banned. I am starting to think people should get one "free" offence a year.

        Why? So that people can keep speeding, keep getting caught, and keep getting away with it? A law isn't wrong just because you could get away with it easily before but can't any more.

  • by Bazzalisk ( 869812 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:52PM (#14039061) Homepage
    is keeping the records for two years - I can't see any good reason for that. The cameras themselves aren't much different from the camera system already used to maintain the congestuion charge in central london and are overall a Good Thing. (As a cyclist I find that the largest regular threat to my life tends to originate from speeding/incompetent motorists - and I want them to be caught and have their licenses revoked)
  • Quarter miles? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by numLocked ( 801188 )
    It would appear that the times DID get the spacing wrong, since I seriously doubt the UK has randomly decided to use US units.
    • Re:Quarter miles? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Bazzalisk ( 869812 )
      No, bizarely all our road lengths are still measured in imperial units - even though every other damned thing is metric (except milk and beer which come in pints).
    • ...

      The UK uses miles for measuring road distance.

    • Either I'm missing something or there is an impression that the US is the only country to still use miles. Speed limits and distances in the UK are all in MPH/miles.

      Living in Northern Ireland makes for fun as once you cross the border to the Republic of Ireland you switch to KM for distance and MPH for speed limits whilst they're in the transistional phase to metric :)

  • No intent proven (Score:4, Informative)

    by ear1grey ( 697747 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:52PM (#14039070) Homepage
    ... one every quarter of a mile on motorways quite clearly means they'll be used to enforce speed limits as well...

    The regularity of the cameras is irrelevant, you only have to know the distance between them, and ensure their clocks are in sync to be able to issue a speeding ticket.

    So thinking around the subject:

    • If you want to monitor road usage to check up on tax discs you only need one set of ANPR cameras between each junction.
    • If you want to monitor speed over distance you need two or more APNR camera sets.
    • Having multiple regular cameras makes it easier to passively monitor the progress of vehicles. What this will give the government/police is the ability to track certain people, and more importantly, to gain an understanding of road usage patterns.
  • by FishandChips ( 695645 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:56PM (#14039109) Journal
    Every Western country is facing Big Brother issues. However, I wonder if the UK has created its own issue here: whether it is wise or moral to criminalize huge numbers of the population with the aim of raising extra revenue for the government. Few in the UK would argue that the present system of speed cameras (they are called Gatso cameras) is designed for much else other than making money for the state.

    I guess if a government goes about giving very large numbers of otherwise law-abiding citizens a criminal record they should not expect much more than cynicism when it comes to other social problems. We are then all the losers.

    A by-product of the current obsession with safety is that enormous sums have to be spent on repairing emergency vehicles whose suspension is wrecked going over speed bumps in urban areas. In addition, more acute cases die because it takes longer for an ambulance to get them to hospital and the ride there is bumpy to say the least. It might even turn out that the safety obsession kills more people than it is intended to save.

    Meanwhile, new licensing laws in the UK permitting the sale of alcohol 24/7 promise many mores deaths from alcohol abuse and its fallout. Liver disease from alcohol abuse among those under 30 is several hundred per cent higher than it was even twenty years ago. Apparently it's OK to drink yourself to death in the UK, but woe betide you if you get in an automobile stone cold sober.
    • It might even turn out that the safety obsession kills more people than it is intended to save.

      Yes; for example it's virtually certain that airline "safety" regulations have led to more deaths. As air travel becomes more inconvenient and expensive, marginal travelers will choose to drive instead, which is far more dangerous per mile.
  • by Transcendent ( 204992 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @06:57PM (#14039117)
    What I don't understand is why speeding is so strictly enforced with this system. It's an entirely arbitrary system (well, loosely based on some aspect of the road) that is outdated for current car designs. Do you think my 1,500lb escort should have the same speed limit as some guys 2 ton '88 Cadillac, or an H2? Should I be forced to drive at the same speed as a senile senior citizen?

    What about other circumstances where I sped up to avoid an accident, or to avoid further traffic congestion (as in moving into place to merge into an open spot rather than having 10 people brake behind you)?
  • by mustafap ( 452510 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @07:02PM (#14039174) Homepage
    This has already been reported by the bbc ( more reliable than The Register ) where a camera has been used to record car licence plates on entry to a car park, and generate automatic fines if a matching parking ticket was not purchased.

    The system failed miserably because it falsely recorded cars *passing by* the car park.

    It's a real intrusion, but on the other hand, try getting compensation if you are in an accident with someone driving without insurance.

    I'll stick to monitoring speed cameras :o)
  • by Paul Carver ( 4555 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @07:04PM (#14039197)
    The romans posed the question "Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?"

    I would be in favor of a system to track the movements of all cars and issue speeding violations as long as the data is a matter of public record and it can be proven (for example, via Freedom of Information requests) that all traffic regulations are being strictly enforce on all public officials, including elected official, appointed official, off duty police and their families, friends, and relatives, and anybody else in a position of influence.

    If a speed limit is too low, I'm sure it would get rapidly fixed if there were 100% enforcement of fines and penalties against senators and representatives.

    If a speed limit is, in fact, valid and legitimate for safety reasons then 100% enforcement is certainly a good thing.

    The problem occurs when traffic regulations are constructed in such a way that everybody violates them because they are unreasonable and the police use them as a means of selectively grabbing people they have an illegitimate beef against.
  • Circumvention (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ktappe ( 747125 )
    I see a sudden market emerging for adhesive tape for modifying license plate numbers/letters to confuse the cameras. WIth little effort 5's make great 6's, 0's and 3's transmogrify into 8's, C's become 0's. And suddenly your car becomes anonymous. *cough* Not that I advocate this of course. -Kurt
  • Sadness (Score:4, Insightful)

    by A beautiful mind ( 821714 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @07:11PM (#14039255)
    I'm feeling sad that these kind of measures can be introduced in the UK and the citizens of the UK doesn't feel the need to throw those responsible for this surveilance into the ocean or something.

    Seriously, why is it, that we have to live in such a passive society? Like if it would have been bred for obedience.

    First, there were cameras on the streets and noone said a word
    Then, there were monitoring of cars and noone said a word
    Finally, when I got stripped from all my freedoms, labeled a criminal, then, there was noone to say a word.

  • by Fallen Kell ( 165468 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @07:13PM (#14039273)
    I mean seriously... Of coarse speeding tickets will be issued with it. That is how they will raise funding for it. However, figuring out how much they were speeding is a whole different story altogether... Now grant it, the 1/4 mile distance will limit some of the speeds, but in theory, someone could hit 100+ mph and slow back down to 5 mph before they hit the next scanner, thus the overall time spent going the 1/4 mile could still be same time spent for going that distance as it would if you simply went the speed limit.
  • by PMuse ( 320639 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @07:18PM (#14039313)
    Could the stated goals not be acheived more cheaply simply by fitting each vehicle with a transponder? Anything that must be installed every quarter mile of every road will necessarily be ungodly expensive.

    Vehicles operating without a transponder would be fined steeply. A few random checks would ensure compliance.

    It's one thing to be an evil overlord, but there's no excuse for being an expensive and incompetent evil overlord.
  • Nah, bollocks (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cally ( 10873 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @07:25PM (#14039368) Homepage
    Sorry, I'm a big Register fan, but they're wrong about this. It's not going to happen. Consider that the existing old-skool 'GATSOs' are now pretty universally revived and being deactivated (latest snippet was research demonstrating dangerous bunching on the M4 where they were introduced as a trial.) I drive past 2 or 3 on my daily commute, virtually always over the speed limit, and I've driven round the SE and London - been flashed once or twice but never fined, and these days I don't even get flashed.

    Bear in mind that Blair's ability to railroad through deeply unpopular legislation is seriously damaged after losing the "90 days" vote last week. The PLP are restive and not likely to rubberstamp deeply unpopular legislation.

    I've been had by the London congestion charge system many times, which is always a pain but overall I don't moan about it because it's a Good Thing to ration traffic in central london (for lots of reasons.) That argument won't wash outside of city centres though.

  • by amembleton ( 411990 ) < minus herbivore> on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @07:28PM (#14039401) Homepage
    It seems that the reason why they want a camera every 400 yards is so that they can enforce variable speed limits. From the article: "400 yards along motorways, and a trial on the M42 near Birmingham will first be used to enforce variable speed limits".

    I last drove along the M42 just over a week ago, and there are plenty of new temporary speed limit signs, one above each lane. These were in use to slow the traffic down to help remove a traffic jam. It seems that all of this has been put in with the intention of these camera trials.

    Personally, I think this is a good idea. Variable speed limits might help to curb congestion, especially on the M42 which regularly gets jammed with traffic going to the NEC and the many motorways that connect to it. We have had variable speed limits in the UK for a while now, but everyone (including the police) ignores them.

    In the UK, driving is a privilage and not a right. You are issued with a licence which of course can be revoked by a court. A lot of speed limits do seem like BS, and the motorway speed limit IMHO ought to be 80, but if everyone is doing the same speed things might be safer.

    The only problem I have with this, is that they want to hold the records for two years. Why? This will probably get tied into our expensive ID cards. Might be time to migrate.
  • by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @07:29PM (#14039416)
    Sweden: Land of meatballs, Volvos, and The Pirate Bay.

    Britain: Land of really stupid criminals who don't know enough to switch license plates before committing a crime with a car.

    Seems to me that Q knew what he was doing when he gave James Bond an Aston Martin with changeable license plates.

  • by edunbar93 ( 141167 ) on Tuesday November 15, 2005 @11:25PM (#14040820)
    This isn't about catching speeders. It's about tracking your each and every move, for ever and ever. I'd be nervous about this if they were keeping records for two *weeks*, nevermind two *years*. What they really want is to be able to say "Where is license plate #27D726" at any given moment in time, so that they can put "the bad guys" away. The definition of "the bad guys" can easily change with the wind, and they'll have the security net to find and catch all the homosexuals, johns, pot-smokers, poker players, or any other evil-criminal-du-jour. Stupid laws that have made criminals of everyone have been passed before, and will pass in the future. This is just stupid.

Someday somebody has got to decide whether the typewriter is the machine, or the person who operates it.