Slow Down For Auto Safety: New Twists On Longtime Goal
Lanham, Maryland (WiredPRNews.com) People often think that using technology to catch speeders and increase safety on our roads is a relatively recent product of the post-world war two era. In fact, using technology to make sure autos stay within the speed limit has been around almost since the beginning of the car itself!
In September 1905 the following item appeared in Popular Mechanics Magazine on page 926
At that time, Automated Speed Enforcement was an early entry into a new science. By the 1950’s Time Magazine ran an article about radar-based speed enforcement under the headline “Big Brother is Driving” – – because no one likes to get, or pay, a speeding ticket issued by the local police department of government, even if this helps keep our roads are safer! In the years since then, automated traffic enforcement of all types has been through many changes and challenges.
In contrast to the time and distance model applied in the 1905 article, speed enforcement later in the 20th century turned to the use of RADAR (Radio Detection and Ranging). RADAR is the transmission of a microwave pulse that reaches the target and then comes back to the source. Using what is called “the Doppler Effect”, an auto’s speed is calculated by comparing the frequency of the transmitted pulse to the frequency of the reflection. Speed is determined by using the difference between the two frequencies.
Today, in addition to RADAR, LIDAR (Laser Radar or Ladar, an acronym for Light Detection And Ranging) is a popular system in many cases of automated enforcement. Optotraffic – – the Lanham, Maryland provider of portable laser speed sensor and camera technology and support services to local governments in Maryland – – uses LIDAR systems to successfully reduce speeding in school and work zones and increase public safety in Maryland counties, towns and municipalities.
LIDAR uses a laser light in way that is similar to how RADAR uses sound pulses. In the case of LIDAR, the time the laser beam takes to return is used to calculate the speed of the vehicle.
In the past few years, Optotraffic has advanced the state of the art in the areas of precision and accuracy and applied these advances to automated speed enforcement patented laser technology developed by Optotraffic’s parent company for use with NASA and in other government contracts.
Specifically, Optotraffic applies laser technology to a time/distance application and combines that with a highly engineered, easily deployable, portable, automated system that has proven effective and reliable in more jurisdictions than any other vendor of such equipment – – today more than 14 local jurisdictions in Maryland. Recently, Prince George’s County was so impressed with the Optotraffic system that they awarded a multiyear contract to implement the county’s new system over the course of the coming year. This will help the county in their continuing effort to improve road safety by reducing speeding and aggressive driving.
Since the system is based on portable units, it now will be possible for the first time, to cover all of the counties’ 359 Public and Private schools and their thousands of students, by deploying the systems as the need arises.
The system utilizes two lasers per lane of traffic to measure by computer the speed of the vehicle as it passes by. Then the computer takes two digital images of the vehicle after the speed has been measured. The photos help identify the vehicle by looking at the License Plate and comparing it to MVA records for owner information. Prince George’s County communities like New Carrollton and College Park already have demonstrated reductions in speed of vehicles passing through their cities in school zones.
In the past two years nearly 100 new, local jobs have been created due to the manufacture and operation of these devices.
Automated Speed Enforcement has come a long way in the 96 years since it was used in England.