Friday, November 02, 2012

Getting Rich Through Law Enforcement

The Automated Enforcement System or AES was recently introduced, or rather enforced, in stages over an 18 months period from deployment date on 831 'accident-prone' spots along federal highways and trunk roads using high resolution 11 Megapixels Infra Red enabled cameras to record still images of speeding vehicles day and night. Use of speed traps has been a common feature on the roads and the drivers are aware of the danger of being caught and issued summonses for the traffic violation. What was ethically wrong was that catching violators is now a lucrative business to the contractors awarded the licence by the government to manage this function and earn a cut for their efforts. The AES is a form of entrapment. Each summonse cost the offender RM300 and there will be no discounts like in the past. In fact it is likely that over the years the fine will be gradually increased much like the road toll levied by highway operators. Speed cameras are no longer a deterrent to speed violation but used to bring more violation to book. From the business angle, the more the contractors catches the more profit they can earn and this make the AES implementation highly immoral and subject to abuse by the authorities. Drivers, or rather registered owners of the vehicles filmed have no way to appeal as the digital evidence is final. The only dispute is the accuracy of the speed measured. Even then it is impossible to prove that the speed recorded by the camera was adjusted or that the speedometer of the vehicle is more accurate. The owners are at the mercy of the new law enforcement.

I myself have seen such a camera along the highway and became very very wary to stay within the posted speed limit, based on what my car's speedometer displayed. And when I have my GPS navigator on I get confused because these devices display different speeds, sometimes with difference as high as 10kph. Which is more accurate? And there is no assurance that even if you stick to the speed limit you won't be caught, if another vehicle alongside yours has sped from behind and caught up with yours at the moment the camera flash and capture both vehicles. Also, previously the traffic police gave an allowance of 10% due to calibration error and low accuracy/sensitivity of the laser guns used, so a motorist can drive up to 120kph in a 110kph speed limit zone and feel safe. However this no longer apply now. Along straight stretches of the highways it is safe to drive at 120kph and the authorities should allow that instead of restricting the drivers.

One area of deep concern is the fixing of 7 different speed limits for the 831 spots tracked. Check out this site. Can you imagine speed limits of 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100 and 110kph on highways in Malaysia? It is absolutely crazy and definitely subject to abuse to trap motorists.

It is crazy that speed limits of as low as 50kph - 60kph are used along highways when it is an established understanding that there are just 2 limits, 90kph and 110kph commonly followed. It is inconceivable that highways speed is throttled that slow unless we are to believe it is again to entrap the drivers who may be unaware. Driving at such low speeds on highways are insanely dangerous. Instead of reducing high speed related accidents we may see slow speed related accidents henceforth. Obviously the authorities are less interested in managing accident reduction but more interested in increasing the collection of fines.

The below explanation gives a clearer understanding of our predicament, as well as anger over the manner the AES is privatized to political cronies. According to the wikipedia site HERE, the concessionaires will be making millions from the fines collected. AES is seen as a political tool of the incumbent government to victimize the motoring public. The transport minister gave a lame excuse HERE why the contract was privatized. Neither has the 2 concessionaires have the technical expertise to install and manage the cameras, but if the AES is run by the road transport department all the money collected from fines will be used to improve road safety instead of partially profiteered by businessmen.

And interesting analysis is found HERE.

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