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UK Plan Would Use CCTV To Stop Uninsured Drivers From Refueling 691

Mr_Blank writes "Cameras at UK petrol stations will automatically stop uninsured or untaxed vehicles from being filled with fuel, under new government plans. Downing Street officials hope the hi-tech system will crack down on the 1.4 million motorists who drive without insurance. Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras are already fitted in thousands of petrol station forecourts. Drivers can only fill their cars with fuel once the camera has captured and logged the vehicle's number plate. Currently the system is designed to deter motorists from driving off without paying for petrol. But under the new plans, the cameras will automatically cross-refererence with the DVLA's huge database."
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UK Plan Would Use CCTV To Stop Uninsured Drivers From Refueling

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  • Riiiight (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chronosan ( 1109639 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:13AM (#39363507)
    What's to stop someone from filling a jerry can with gas and then fuelling their car, or can lawnmower and chainsaw operators no longer buy gas?
  • by prefect42 ( 141309 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:15AM (#39363527)

    This would work just fine if the database was correct, which it simply isn't. Delays in getting information updated would mean you having a fully licenses, taxes, MOTed, and insured car that you couldn't fill up with petrol. So there'd need to be a way of overriding it, which puts a whole lot of pressure on the vendor.

    Nice in theory, but I don't see it working. That doesn't mean I don't see it happening.

  • Re:Riiiight (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:15AM (#39363529)


  • by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:15AM (#39363531) Homepage Journal

    if your going to be a police state then by all means do it right.

    I guess they will need a black market for gasoline as well. Do they have seat belt laws? Baby seat laws? Why stop at not letting gas up because of lack of insurance. There are all so many wonderfully invasive things they can do.

  • Correction (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Manip ( 656104 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:17AM (#39363569)
    The UK already uses CCTV cameras on a massive scale to catch uninsured cars. Our motorways have cameras over every lane which track the numberplate and this information can both be used to calculate average speed over a section of road (to enforce speed limits) and also to check for insured, banned drivers, or stolen vehicles.

    This is less a new idea as the /. summary implies and more just an expansion of an existing project.
  • by Jonathan_S ( 25407 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:18AM (#39363575)

    Wonderful, when the inevitable errors in the database occur you'll be stranded at some random gas station. Nothing in that article about how you could prove their database was incorrect or out of date.

    At least if an officer ran your plate and stopped you you could provide proof of insurance, showing their database entry was wrong.

  • Why not, politics and bureaucracy aside, make the "mandatory" insurance something you pay with your vehicle registration?

    Because large companies and trade associations in the private sector who have successfully captured the regulators [] find it unprofitable to put "politics and bureaucracy aside". For another, there'd still be tons of "politics and bureaucracy" in figuring out the premium that applies to each driver-vehicle pair.

  • Re:Riiiight (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PPH ( 736903 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:22AM (#39363623)

    An Arkansas credit card []?
    I'm sure you folks in the UK have a locale suitable to this definition.

  • Re:Riiiight (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dhalka226 ( 559740 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:24AM (#39363649)

    Why is it that geeks always need something to be flawless before they find it worth consideration?

    If the worst this system produces is people using gas cans, it's a victory. There will be people who will find the inconvenience enough incentive to get their insurance which is exactly the goal. Since the technology is largely already there, the database check shouldn't be a significant additional cost. (Who knows with government mandates though.)

    If there is a reason to oppose this it would be the fears of Big Brother and the ability of government to know almost exactly where you are every moment you are in country. Still, with due respect to our British friends, it seems like that ship sailed a while ago. If they're (going to be) doing it, it won't require this program.

  • Re:gas can (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:28AM (#39363681) Homepage

    And what about vehicles with foreign plates?

    What can possibly go wrong?

  • by mr1911 ( 1942298 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:33AM (#39363769)
    Why put so much effort into getting around the system rather than voting the douchebags that come up with this stuff out of office and taking your government back?

    Comment not limited to the Brits. The US government needs a good housecleaning as well.
  • by gnasher719 ( 869701 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:36AM (#39363825)

    if your going to be a police state then by all means do it right.

    What do you mean by "police state"? If some f***ing idiot thinks he or she can drive around with an uninsured car, which hasn't been tested for roadworthiness (because you can't get an MOT without insurance), leaving everyone else to pay for the damage to cause, then most people in Britain would want their cars to be taken away and destroyed.

  • by denis-The-menace ( 471988 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:39AM (#39363865)

    Add Canadians to the list.

    We are currently going through our "Bush" phase.

  • by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:48AM (#39364023)

    The law is the law - you must have insurance in your EU or US state. Whether that law is enforced with human eyes or camera eyes really makes no difference (IMHO). I have to waste ~$300 a year to insure other drivers & their cars in case I hit them..... I don't see why anyone else thinks they shouldn't have to pay the bill too.

  • by jo_ham ( 604554 ) <joham999@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:48AM (#39364039)

    Why so much hate?

    The ANPR system is already widespread in the UK (although the headline seems to suggest this is new, it is not).

    At gas stations it is generally used to catch bilking after the fact (ie, once the drive off has already happened), and is used elsewhere (eg, in police vehicles and on static cameras that watch the main motorway routes) to catch uninsured and untaxed drivers.

    The overwhelming majority of fuel theft (in the form of drive offs) is committed by uninsured drivers, and adding a further obstacle to keep the dickheads off the road in the first place can only be a benefit.

    At present the DVLA's database is not perfect so as it stands there would be a small but non-trivial number of false positives (too high for a system that prevents fuelling as a binary choice) but it is very easy to correct genuine mistakes. It might even be beneficial for those who are flagged incorrectly in the DB since they would have a chance to sort it out (reporting correct details to the DVLA and making sure your insurance is valid is *your* responsibility) before being pulled over by a police interceptor while you're on the motorway or something (thus wasting both your and the police's time sorting out the mistake).

    Let's not paint this as a "the government can't tell me what to do! freedom! rah!" issue - there is no "right" to drive a car, and you have no innate "right" to buy fuel for it from a private business that specialises in selling such flammable liquids to the public. If you're driving around uninsured then, honestly, fuck you - get your uninsured pile of shit off the public road so you don't crash into someone and cause them all manner of headaches because you *are not insured*.

  • Re:Riiiight (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:49AM (#39364055) Homepage

    That's just what we need, uninsured drivers driving around in trucks laden with gasoline in home-welded containers.

    What could possibly go wrong...?

  • by Theophany ( 2519296 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:54AM (#39364119)
    Fucking A. However, I'd be more excited if this initiative resulted in falling car insurance premiums, which I doubt it will. Just yesterday I was quoted between £4,000 and £12,000 for car insurance for a 7 year old Honda S2000, despite having over 5 years NCB, never having had a speeding ticket, never having had any motoring convictions AND agreeing to have a tracker box fitted to the car.

    People who drive uninsured don't do it just because they're all dicks (admittedly, many of them are), but because they're priced out of the freaking market by companies with a license to print money.

    On an unrelated note, fuel prices are ~70% tax ffs. And these government shitheads honestly cannot work out why people break the law?
  • by Karzz1 ( 306015 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:55AM (#39364141) Homepage
    I don't think anyone disputes the necessity of auto insurance or the laws requiring it. What is at discussion is what is probably a broken implementation of a Draconian scheme.

    Imagine the day that Anonymous DDOS's the database used to authorize fuel dispensing.
  • Re:Riiiight (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MpVpRb ( 1423381 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:56AM (#39364151)
    >>If there is a reason to oppose this

    How about, if the system makes a mistake, an innocent person could suffer hours, maybe days of inconvenience.

    Worst case, they could die.

    An example would be something like this, feel sick, get in the car to go to the hospital, need gas, get refused because the system made a mistake, days later, finally get to the doctor, doctor says "if only we had found this sooner, we could have saved you"

    I know it's a crappy example, but I think it still makes the point. The innocent always suffer.

  • Re:Correction (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jimbolauski ( 882977 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:57AM (#39364169) Journal

    The UK already uses CCTV cameras on a massive scale to catch uninsured cars. Our motorways have cameras over every lane which track the numberplate and this information can both be used to calculate average speed over a section of road (to enforce speed limits) and also to check for insured, banned drivers, or stolen vehicles. This is less a new idea as the /. summary implies and more just an expansion of an existing project.

    This is a very new idea, forcing a gas station to install and use this system, that is very different from cameras in public places. Having license plate scanning cameras in public areas is not an issue, as it is in public and there is no expectation of privacy. The big issue is not the public's right to privacy but the gas station owner's right to sell gas to whom ever he chooses. This is not a slippery slope, this is the beginning of the government forcing private business sell to whom ever the government sees fit to sell to. The outrage shouldn't be over privacy issues of the customers, it should be over the intrusion of the government on these businesses.

  • by Jiro ( 131519 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:58AM (#39364179)

    They don't try to give the lawbreakers a fighting chance.

    It seems like most of the complaints here are because people think this will work. It feels wrong that you actually cannot get away with breaking the law.

    Think about it: Do you think it's a bad law to prohibit uninsured motorists? Do you think the police are likely to abuse this? (It uses existing cameras. If the police wanted to abuse it they can abuse the existing cameras already.) No? Then exactly what is your objection, other than that it doesn't seem fair that there's no way to get around it?

  • by CountBrass ( 590228 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:59AM (#39364185)

    disguising your number plate is an offence, and rightly so.

  • Re:gas can (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ThatsMyNick ( 2004126 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @11:00AM (#39364217)

    Think of it as a blacklist, any vehicle that has been registered in UK and has not paid tax/insurance will be blacklisted. Foreign vehicles will not be affected.

  • by jank1887 ( 815982 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @11:11AM (#39364371)

    clarification in case your statement gets anyone's undies in a bunch: Driving a car on public roads is a privilege not a right.

    publicly funded roads, publicly determined requirements to use them. you driving puts others at risk, you need to be able to cover the financial part of that risk to use the roads.

  • by mbone ( 558574 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @11:17AM (#39364475)

    What is wrong with the United Kingdom ? When did they go so far off the rails ?

    (Yes, I know that you could ask the same question about the US, but this is not an article about the US and, if anything, things seem to be deteriorating faster there.)

  • by Xest ( 935314 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @11:18AM (#39364483)

    I'm actually struggling to see why the first few posts on Slashdot are suggestions that this is somehow a bad thing. If ever there was a decent use for ANPR, this is it. My insurance has rocketed in recent years and my commute gets increasingly busy over time. Getting illegal drivers off the road? Yes please.

    Getting many of the little uninsured scrotes off the road with this sort of thing can only be a good thing IMO. Less chance of me being out of pocket for some arsehole that never passed his driving test and/or never bothered to pay for insurance and/or crashed into me because he lost control of his car because it wasn't road worthy and he didn't bother to get an MOT? Please, sign me up.

    Really, if there's concern about feature creep and it being used to tell where I go for petrol each week then I already have bigger worries - knowing which petrol station I go to each week is a lot smaller concern for me than the fact the local supermarkets knowing how often I shop at them, and what I buy down to the most personal level in comparison. Tracking my petrol purchases would be small fry relative to all the other data that's being tracked about me in every day life and at least this would give me the tangible benefit of lower insurance premiums.

    I don't see how defeating this at the ballot box would be in any way "taking your government back", unless you're assuming that everyone here is one of those afformentioned uninsured scrotes who would benefit from a government that doesn't want to go after drivers breaking the law at the expense of those who do not? This is one of those rare instances of my government working for me, not against me, and knee jerk responses simply because of the mere mention of CCTV in the topic are retarded. Not all CCTV usage is inherently bad - it's not like petrol station forecourts are even public spaces.

  • by CountBrass ( 590228 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @11:19AM (#39364513)

    You ask then question and then answer it in the following paragraph.

    In any case, do you really think the system won't simply deny you fuel if it cannot read your number plate?

  • by miltonw ( 892065 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @11:23AM (#39364567)
    Sure! Why worry? You've already "agreed" that the government can track your car's movements, what's wrong with this next step: Allowing the government to control your car's movement. With this system they can automatically deny you fuel, what could possibly go wrong? You are "not doing anything wrong" so "you have nothing to worry about", right?

    It's all controlled by computers and they never have glitches, they never have bad data. No government employee would accidentally or on purpose screw with your data. The government would never use this to deny fuel to innocent (but "suspicious") people. No!

    Nothing to worry about. Go back to sleep.
  • by mr1911 ( 1942298 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @11:24AM (#39364577)

    This is an excellent solution.
    And you'll only disagree with me until the point one of the douches driving whilst uninsured hits your car or runs you over.
    Unless of course you are one of those douches. Driving a car is a privilege not a right.

    The problem is that once you accept more control over your life the line blurs and then disappears. It doesn't take that much thought to see this morphing well beyond the good intentions you buy into now.

    You accept having government approve your fuel purchase based on having insurance. Should government approve your fuel purchase based on the time of day? No fuel for you at 11:00 -- you should be at work.

    Anything the government does for "safety" or "security" is absolutely for that purpose -- for theirs, not yours.

    It cannot be said better than this:
    I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.
    -- Thomas Jefferson

  • by sl4shd0rk ( 755837 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @11:27AM (#39364615)

    Whether that law is enforced with human eyes or camera eyes really makes no difference

    Yes, actually it does. "enforcing the law" with Orwellian bullshit is not really enforcing the law as much as it is eroding your rights to privacy.

    Require proof of insurance in order to renew registration every year. There. Fixed. And nobody has to spy on anyone at the gas station.

  • by jo_ham ( 604554 ) <joham999@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday March 15, 2012 @11:27AM (#39364625)

    It's a large problem - mainly because fuel is so expensive ($8-9 per gallon) and almost all stations are "fill, then pay" and almost none at all have pre-payment. Some have card readers on the pumps themselves, too, but usually only on a few pumps in a station.

    The ANPR system being at gas stations is just a natural extension of where it's normally used (and it's already well established in fuel stations, and has been for some years) - in police cars and on main motorways. Cars have to visit fuel stations, so if you're uninsured or your car is stolen etc, it has a higher chance of being seen on the system. It's not solely about fuel theft.

  • by Zemran ( 3101 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @11:42AM (#39364875) Homepage Journal

    In the UK a trailer must bear the same number as the vehicle towing it. So the vehicle has the front number and the trailer has the same number on the rear. End of story, if the trailer has a different number you are breaking the law and deserve the problems. I still do not like this system though as it will give me problems when I am driving on foreign plates. Will I have to tape fake plates on to get petrol? People talk about the problems but do they really think about how bad it will be for a false flagged person that cannot use their car?

  • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @12:01PM (#39365187) Journal

    Of course, this is because by the "Obama" phase, it becomes clear just how much the "Bush" phase fucked things up. Note that simpering halfwits will attribute this to the "Obama" phase, but they're morons and normally can be safely ignored.

  • by RandCraw ( 1047302 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @12:05PM (#39365261)

    So if the camera fails to see your license plate you get no gas? Clever. I'm sure that another car or truck will never obstruct the camera's view, that snow will never obscure the plate, that fog will never blur the plate letters, that the plate will always be adequately illuminated, that the cameras will never break down, that the license database will always be up-to-date and on-line. No flies in THAT ointment, no sir.

    All this fal-de-ral just to make sure that a few people pay their vehicle tax? Why not simply require everyone to pay their tax annually when they register their vehicle? Put a sticker on the windshield showing that the tax was paid, LIKE THEY DO EVERYWHERE ELSE.

    Or if you must monitor everyone's tax status minute-by-minute, have everyone carry a tax-paid UPC fob that is scannable by a credit card swiper (or an attendant) when you pay for your gas? Would that cost, oh perhaps, a BILLION pounds less than buying and wiring up multiple spy cameras for every service station in the UK?

    Who comes up with ideas this overcomplex, ineffective, and brain damaged? Newt Gingrich's british cousin?

  • by Xest ( 935314 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @12:18PM (#39365539)

    Yeah and maybe then, when your car is stopped, they'll come out and shoot you in the head then burn your corpse out back and pretend you were never there. They may then go and rape and murder your family, and kill and burn them too. I mean, that's exactly the sort of thing that would happen in Iran or Syria, so you're obviously an idiot if you think it couldn't happen in the West.

    This is called a slippery slope fallacy. Whether your argument has any validity, or mine has any validity really depends on how much of a paranoid kook you are, so you'll have to excuse me if I'm not convinced things are that bad in our country, even if they may be in yours wherever that may be. If things ever do get as bad as you suggest I expect there'll be a lot bigger issues before then, such as whether you can even own a car in the first place.

  • Re:Pre-Pay (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AlecC ( 512609 ) <> on Thursday March 15, 2012 @12:41PM (#39365937)

    It is not the tech, it is the social customs. Fill then pay has been customary in the UK since filling attendants disappeared, probably forty years ago. People expect to fill then pay, and will probably avoid a station that demanded prepay. And, since most filling stations double as convenience shops, I bet that they will get many more sales from people who have done the primary task of filling up before they pay rather than people who are focussed on filling up rather than buying papers or chocolates.

  • by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @12:57PM (#39366217)

    "almost all stations are "fill, then pay" and almost none at all have pre-payment."

    That's idiotic and has no benefit. The majority of pumps in the US now have card readers and this even allows gas stations to dispense fuel when their parent store is closed.

    There's more money to be made faster by having card readers at the pump since it frees "fuel only" customers from waiting for a clerk.

  • by mr1911 ( 1942298 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @01:31PM (#39366869)
    It is downright funny to see someone calling others halfwits and morons when he doesn't seem to grasp that Obama and Bush are two sides of the same coin.

    The only difference between the two is tense. One was disastrous as president, one is disastrous as president.
  • The first person who loses his job because of a database or connectivity problem keeping him from gassing up on the way to work should be able to sue those who came up with this INDIVIDUALLY.

    Not sue the government so the taxpayers make up for up for their mistakes. But these people who think they can tweak our lives any way they want need to learn there can be real consequences.

    I still wish some government bureaucrat in the US could be in jail for manslaughter for the first kid who died from a mandated airbag before multi-stage, safer airbags were developed.

    Failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.

    Jesus, what happened to the idea of personal responsibility? So, what? The hypothetical guy who can't gas up on the way to work gets to sue the gas station if it's closed that day too?

    It's the driver's responsibility to ensure that he has gas, has a roadworthy vehicle and to ensure that it is adequately taxed and insured.

    Those "real consequences" like suing someone because you didn't have enough gas to drive to work and an admin issue at the gas station, where you went to fill up your almost totally empty tank at the last minute (ie, on your way to work) certainly are serious.

    "Yes, your honour, I didn't have enough gas to get to work, and I thought I'd fill up on the way at the last minute because I believe that unless every single thing involved in my journey is 100% perfect I am entitled to sue".


"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger