Governments have reasons for deploying traffic enforcement cameras-safety of motorists and pedestrians and raising local revenues, for example.
Enforcement cams slash emissions as they reduce speeds, the UKSDC says. But across the Atlantic, the United Kingdom’s Sustainable Development Commission has some bigger ideas. Speed cameras and related technologies to influence driver behavior can also reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the commission said in a 64-page report, “Smarter Moves,” released in January.
The report suggests several ways information technologies can save energy; it advocates more videoconferencing, carpooling, mass transportation and telecommuting to reduce travel, for example.
But in the United Kingdom, where license plate recognition technology already tracks more than 1 million vehicle movements a day, the commission envisions much, much more.
To slow traffic, the commission wants speed cameras. And not just the kind that measure speed at a single spot that can be dodged by briefly slowing down, but also networked cameras those that measure average speed over a distance, making them harder to avoid. More than half of all drivers exceed speed limits, so there’s plenty of behavior to influence, the commission notes. It also advocates changing the speed limits in residential areas to 20 mph, where currently 49 percent of motorists top 30 mph.
But there’s more. How about “intelligent speed adaption,” along with automated braking systems, technology that could advise (or maybe force) drivers to follow local limits? “A GPS-based database of speed limits can be linked into a vehicle’s cruise control system to automatically set cruise speeds,” the report notes, calling for a timetable on the implementation.
That technology-already in effect in some fleets could save 25 million “tonnes” of carbon over 60 years in the United Kingdom, the commission said.
Then there are pay-as-you-go insurance schemes: Your insurance company installs a GPS tracking device, and you pay in proportion to miles driven, the thinking goes. Some politicians in the United Stated have also embraced the promise of this technology to track road use, replacing (or supplementing) fuel taxes.
Similar tracking technology could educate drivers on “green,” driving, alerting them to inefficient actions like quick acceleration and braking.
Meanwhile around the world, the cameras are boosting local budgets as they slow the lead-foots.
Here are just a few recent developments: In California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is trying to kill a $20 billion shortfall and has proposed corralling an additional $337.9 million from automated speed enforcement revenue. In New York, Gov. David Patterson faces a $7.4 billion shortfall, and his proposed budget calls for a work-zone speed-enforcement program to raise $153 million in four years.
In Indiana, a bill introduced Jan. 12 would create a statewide speed enforcement program with $300 fines for first offenders and $500 fines for repeat violators.
And Washington, D.C., collected $33.4 million in speed camera ticket revenue, AAA Mid-Atlantic says, plus more than $7.1 million from red-light cameras in FY 2009, which ended in September.