Honolulu Lite


Monday, December 17, 2001

New speeding program
will take a bleating

Today should be the beginning of the end of the silly experiment to ticket roadway speeders by remote control.

The end begins today because the program begins today. The company hired to get rich off of Honolulu's heavy-footed drivers, Affiliated Computer Services, will begin issuing tickets by mail to those caught on camera going over the speed limit. This is about as close as any company has come to being able to print its own money. I suspect, however, ACS's money grab will be short-lived -- along with the political careers of the elected idiots who hatched this odious scam -- as soon as the people realize their government considers them merely cash cows, to be ravaged at will.

Let's get one thing straight. Using secret cameras hidden in unmarked vans to catch people going over the speed limit has nothing to do with safety. It has only to do with making money. And while a few politicians, no doubt with connections to computer surveillance companies via campaign contributions, may think they have pulled the wool over the cash cows' eyes (to confuse a few farm animal-related metaphors), they are going to learn that these cows are not sheep. Or at least they are angry sheep with really sharp teeth.

Once we cash cows/angry sheep start getting our speeding tickets in the mail (and I suspect I'll be receiving them in droves) the misguided speeding enforcement program will come to a grinding halt. There are many problems with it, but the main reason it will fail is because the entire enterprise is based on a major false assumption.

That assumption is that it is dangerous when cars exceed the posted speed limit.

What is dangerous is when one or two drivers go a lot faster than everyone else. To understand this, sit on the side of the H-3 Freeway, as many police officers do, and watch 95 percent of the drivers going faster than the 55 mile per hour speed limit. Most of the drivers will be going around 60, which is not dangerous on a highway engineered and designed to easily handle a speed limit of 75. Which is why cops don't pull over every car doing five or 10 miles over the speed limit. It's the idiots who are going 80 miles per hour on the H-3 while everyone else is going 60 who are the danger.

Police officers have no personal interest in ticketing every car going a fraction over the posted limit. They are interested in keeping traffic flowing smoothly and safely. If that means everyone goes seven miles over the speed limit, they can live with that.

But ACS will make no distinction between the dangerous jerks going 80 and the safe drivers going 56. ACS's pay day is based on the quantity of tickets issued, not the quality of judgment exercised.

It's a fatal flaw in the system. And starting today, there will be no silence of the lambs.

Alo-Ha! Friday compiles odd bits of news from Hawaii
and the world to get your weekend off to an entertaining start.
Charles Memminger also writes Honolulu Lite Mondays,
Wednesdays and Sundays. Send ideas to him at the
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 7-210,
Honolulu 96813, phone 235-6490 or e-mail

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