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Canberra Police Want Drones To Track Cars

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the robotic-drones-in-addition-to-the-regular-ones dept.

Australia 154

garymortimer tips this story at the Canberra Times, which starts: "Police have suggested that Canberra's new point-to-point speed cameras be linked to unmanned aerial surveillance drones and used to track vehicles of interest to authorities. The first of the cameras, which use automated number plate recognition technology to calculate a car's average speed and whether it is within the legal limit, are due to be switched on by the end of the year." I wonder how much surveillance by drone is already being done in the U.S., especially considering that even an (admittedly high-end) home-built drone is capable of hijinks that seem to parallel the cell-phone tracking activities the FBI has been shown to employ.

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154 comments

Why drones? (1)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 2 years ago | (#37485226)

I don't get why they want to do this with drones... It seems like a less efficient and more expensive method of tracking compared to the satellites they are using now...

Re:Why drones? (3, Interesting)

Tynin (634655) | more than 2 years ago | (#37485324)

I don't get why they want to do this with drones... It seems like a less efficient and more expensive method of tracking compared to the satellites they are using now...

My guess would be to have more control of what they can see. Satellites look down, whereas UAV's can reposition themselves rather swiftly and look from numerous angles. The other reason would be more of a psychological one, the bad guys will some times get to see these things and perhaps will think twice, and the fearful citizen might feel like they are now more secure since the watching eye in the sky will somehow be able to protect them better.

Re:Why drones? (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | more than 2 years ago | (#37485358)

Or watch them better so the police can entrap victims and raise their quotas and ROIs.

Re:Why drones? (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#37485682)

How does one entrap a speeder from a drone?

Re:Why drones? (2)

Synerg1y (2169962) | more than 2 years ago | (#37485914)

A ticket in the mail???

Re:Why drones? (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#37486508)

Perhaps you should look up the word entrapment [thefreedictionary.com]. A drone in no way coerces a driver to speed. Perhaps you are confusing "catch" with "entrap".

Re:Why drones? (1)

pookemon (909195) | more than 2 years ago | (#37487172)

Unless it tows a huge banner that says "Race you!". Any dumb arse that gets "caught" is "entrapped" - according to the dumb arses idea's of justice.

Re:Why drones? (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 2 years ago | (#37487248)

There is a way to trap drivers into speeding. Target locations where there is a high probability of drivers missing the change of speed sign ie two lane road and only one sign on one side of the road, driver passing another vehicle which obscures visibility of the sign or change of speed on a downhill stretch which requires active deceleration to comply.

What this is all about is of course, computers will do my job for me, I will still take the credit and get paid for doing nothing (if it really worked, of course they would fire them and just use computers). Automated speed cameras do not assist police officers they replace police officers.

Re:Why drones? (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#37487392)

There is a way to trap drivers into speeding. Target locations where there is a high probability of drivers missing the change of speed sign ie two lane road and only one sign on one side of the road, driver passing another vehicle which obscures visibility of the sign or change of speed on a downhill stretch which requires active deceleration to comply.

True but you do not need a drone to do that? It happens all the time in small towns. It is almost a joke in some places.

What this is all about is of course, computers will do my job for me, I will still take the credit and get paid for doing nothing (if it really worked, of course they would fire them and just use computers). Automated speed cameras do not assist police officers they replace police officers.

Drones require pilots and observers to operate. All they are is moving the people out of the aircraft and reducing costs. Remember, I am talking about the drones not the cameras. Even cameras require people to do the paperwork, go to court, handle complaints, etc.

Re:Why drones? (1)

Vegemeister (1259976) | more than 2 years ago | (#37487126)

Follow them around with a drone until they break traffic laws trying to evade it?

Re:Why drones? (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#37487214)

If you can spot a drone following you around you are spending too much time looking at the sky and not enough time looking at the road.

Re:Why drones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37485614)

I wonder how well the cameras on these drones react to 1000mW of laser power?

Re:Why drones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37487120)

I don't understand why they don't just use airplanes. Unless you need a really small UAV, airplanes are cheaper and offer a lot more flexibility, and can operate within the current airspace structure without having to come up with a bunch of new rules or some sort of automated sense and avoid technology. You can get a nice light civil with many hours of endurance for a couple hundred grand. No need for a GCS (Ground Control Station) satellite links, bandwidth problems, etc. You can land it at any of thousands of runways that already exist. Sure, if you need "persistent stare" it's hard to beat UAVs, but even they need gas, so you have to have 3 (one on station, one coming or going, on on deck getting fixed or gas).

Re:Why drones? (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 2 years ago | (#37485380)

because Orbital mechanics make long term(several hours worth) tracking by satellites very difficult and very expensive.

with Satellites you get an hour or two window of opportunity to view the subject and if he hides for that hour you can't track him.

with UAV's you get on demand tracking that lasts long enough to be useful(drones can last for hours and sometimes days flying) over the same 20 mile area.

Re:Why drones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37485542)

what about Geo stationary orbits?

Re:Why drones? (0)

rhook (943951) | more than 2 years ago | (#37485626)

Do you even know what a Geo-stationary orbit is? By definition it sits over one spot. Not very useful for tracking anything.

Re:Why drones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37486248)

Wow, you're even dumber than the guy you're replying to. It sits 36000km over one spot on the equator -- if that spot is just north of Australia, then you only have to point 5 degrees south to target Canberra, and the whole of Australia will span only 6 degrees in your field of view. Since you're looking down at ~35 degrees from vertical, there's some room for people to hide on the south side of buildings, but it's fine for tracking vehicles on roads.

The big issue (as I pointed out above) is that you can't feasibly put a telescope in GEO that can resolve anything useful 37000km away.

Re:Why drones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37485726)

What about them?

Are you suggesting there's a GEO bird with a telescope that can resolve a car from 37000 km away?

You realize you'd need a 20m aperture to get 1m resolution with visible light? How the hell do you suppose they'd launch that to GEO?

Re:Why drones? (1)

garymortimer (1882326) | more than 2 years ago | (#37485496)

I completely agree and I'm a big drone fan, the interest in this story has been so great it seems to have crashed my site. So sorry all those trying to look in now.

Re:Why drones? (2)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#37485664)

If you mean GPS satellites the vehicle has to have a GPS device that is transmitting it's ID, location and speed. Very few vehicles do that.

If you mean image satellites then you are way off. Satellites do not have the angle or resolution to read a license number so can not identify a single vehicle. They generally take still photographs so it is very difficult to spot vehicles going faster than the general flow of traffic. There are very few satellites available that can handle video. Those that can are generally to expensive to use for a $200 speeding ticket.

What they are using now are helicopters and light planes. Drones are much less expensive than either of those.

Re:Why drones? (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37485926)

Aside from GPS satellites, there are no satellites capable of tracking vehicles and determining speed. Maybe you've watch Enemy of the State one too many times. That's not even how the military tracks vehicles in Afghanistan. They use drones, like the Predator.

Re:Why drones? (1)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 2 years ago | (#37486066)

I don't recall it saying anything about determining speed. It said cameras were for determining speed, the drones were for watching. Satellites can do watching perfectly fine.

Re:Why drones? (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37486136)

No. No, they can't. And by corollary, they don't. They fly very fast, so they can take a picture of any given area, but only when it's on its path. If you want lots of pictures, you need lots of satellites. Moving satellites in orbit is expensive and not done terribly often. Drones are far far far cheaper than satellites, particularly for police. Also, there are no video cameras on satellites, only still pictures. So no, satellites can't track vehicles.

Re:Why drones? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37487894)

"I don't get why they want to do this with drones"

Because basically no police force in Australia has an aviation wing, there are no helicopters for police chases, etc.
There was a recent example in QLD where a news helicopter was helping direct police because they had to call off the ground chase 3 times because it was getting too dangerous for the public.

Police have been crying out for aerial support for years, and drones are being positioned as a lower price alternative.

Just jam it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37485344)

get microwave oven
smash glass on door
point into sky
power up and gtfo

Re:Just jam it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37485454)

*hrm.... needs more microwaves*

"already being done in the U.S." (1)

chrismcb (983081) | more than 2 years ago | (#37485386)

The article is about a city in Australia. And the summary asks "already being done in the U.S?"

Re:"already being done in the U.S." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37485428)

The article is about a city in Australia. And the summary asks "already being done in the U.S?"

Thank you for your post repeating selected points from the summary. This is a big help for those of us that didn't read it. However, is there any reason you picked those particular points?

Re:"already being done in the U.S." (1)

rhook (943951) | more than 2 years ago | (#37485636)

Drones have been patrolling US skies for around 10 years now.

lazzzzzzzy.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37485394)

Want to catch people but do not want to be arsed to actually go out and do the work for it...

Unnecessary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37485458)

FFS, just climb up the top of the parliament house flagpole and you can see the whole state

Re:Unnecessary (1)

Demonoid-Penguin (1669014) | more than 2 years ago | (#37488396)

FFS, just climb up the top of the parliament house flagpole and you can see the whole state

Dear retard - do you mean the "state" of Canberra or the "state" of ACT.

Either way - there's a bit more to it than Dickson, Civic, your flat over on Ainslie Avenue, Fyshwick, and maybe Manuka.

And the story in the Canberra Times is about how to safely pursue speeding criminal drivers.

The article misrepresents a police suggestion that they be able to use speed cameras to get additional evidence in situations where it's unsafe to pursue speeding drivers in a police car and if the pursuit is continued with a UAV (which they'd like [abc.net.au], as helicopters are expensive) to then additionally use pictures from the ground based speed cameras (for evidence in prosecution). Presently the police are not allowed by law to use those pictures from speed cameras to help prosecute people being pursued by police, and police have to stop a pursuit if the car being chased - is in traffic, and exceeds the speed limit.

Any debate as to whether our education system is a fucking failure?

How much drone surveillance in the US? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37485504)

How does one go from The capital of Australia wants to use drones for traffic to USA must be using drones because hackers can make drones and because the FBI is tracking cell phones without warrants? I don't see the connection!

Speeding is about to be history. (2)

Mad Quacker (3327) | more than 2 years ago | (#37485574)

Just authorize the drones for autonomous kill functionality, this way we can take care of those evil speeders for good!

Re:Speeding is about to be history. (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 2 years ago | (#37486034)

Actually, if they ever enforce speeding with 100% accuracy, perhaps we'll see an end to the ridiculous speed limits on roads. The current system is accepted only because everybody is allowed to violate it with near impunity.

Re:Speeding is about to be history. (1)

thogard (43403) | more than 2 years ago | (#37486958)

Victoria has the highest speed limit compliance in the world with rates on some roads exceeding 99% Victoria's roads have not seen a decrease in accident rates in years unlike the rest of the world.

Re:Speeding is about to be history. (1)

soundscape (962537) | more than 2 years ago | (#37487036)

As a Victorian I'd love to see some evidence to back that up.

Re:Speeding is about to be history. (1)

thogard (43403) | more than 2 years ago | (#37487436)

The accident stats are in VicRoads annual report where the accident rate per km driven is very interesting as it climbs every year. There is that lovely report on the Auditor General's report which cites a report from the Cochrane Library that has all the details about speed limit compliance and links to other sources of that info.

Already being done (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#37485584)

This is already being done except that the police use helicopters and light planes. Ever notice the big white stripes beside or across the road at regular intervals? They time how long it takes a vehicle to go between the marks and calculate the speed. I see no difference between using a drone and a helicopter. They both have pilots and watch for speeders. Just because a drone is higher tech does not make using it bad.

Re:Already being done (0)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#37485806)

Either method is bad. There's no justification for using these kinds of resources for a victimless "crime" (speeding on rural highways), and these methods aren't viable for catching speeders in urban areas; for that, you need to actually put a cop in a car on the street, where he can also spot other activities that are much worse than speeding, such as tailgaiting, reckless driving, drunk driving, etc.

Anyway, a helicopter costs a bare minimum of $700 per hour to operate; I seriously doubt they're issuing enough tickets to cover that cost. Most places that use aerial speed enforcement use light fixed-wing planes, as the cost is much lower (between $50-100/hour).

Re:Already being done (1)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 2 years ago | (#37486134)

Precisely. I honestly cannot see this happening. I live in Canberra and I can tell you that there's no way in hell they're gonna spend the money on expensive crap like drones in this city.

Drones would only help in situations where the cameras located a vehicle, and you needed to follow it. It could thus be useful to follow getaway cars from a major crime, hit and run perpetrators etc. ... but honestly the number of these situations in a given year in a city like Canberra with only ~400,000 people is not enough to justify the expense. We'd be lucky to have more than about 5 actual police chases a year here.

What I expect might happen is that they will expand use of the speed cameras to log unregistered and unlicensed vehicles (cop cars in Canberra already do this automatically using the RAPID system which scans the plates of other cars around the police car and alerts the officers if it detects one that's not registered). I have no real complaints about that - the RAPID system is very effective and unlicensed vehicles/drivers are generally not the sort of people you want on the roads anyway.

Re:Already being done (1)

pluther (647209) | more than 2 years ago | (#37486160)

At $700 around here, they would need to issue a total of two tickets per hour to pay for it.

I'd be surprised if, from a helicopter, they can't spot more than two speeders every hour.

And, of course, that's just from the speeding ticket. In Beaverton, Oregon (as I recently found out :), if you don't pay the ticket on time it can go from $470 to $1130 total - all they have to do is catch the person driving with a six-month old "unpaid" ticket on their record.

Re:Already being done (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#37486390)

Either method is bad. There's no justification for using these kinds of resources for a victimless "crime" (speeding on rural highways), and these methods aren't viable for catching speeders in urban areas; for that, you need to actually put a cop in a car on the street, where he can also spot other activities that are much worse than speeding, such as tailgaiting, reckless driving, drunk driving, etc.

Interesting idea on what a "victimless crime" is. Tell that to the innocent driver who is hit by the speeder. Tell that to the insurance companies who have to pay for the accidents caused by speeding. Tell that to the family of someone killed by a speeder. Speeders have a higher accident rate no matter where they are.

Drones can also see all the activities you mentioned over a much wider area than a police vehicle. That can then vector a police car to stop the offender.

Drones would be very useful on highways and freeways to catch traffic offenders.

Helicopters are used as chase vehicles. When they are not chasing someone they may as well be catching traffic violators.

Re:Already being done (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37486610)

Speed doesnt kill. It's the dickhead behind the wheel and frankly a soccer mum distracted by her iPhjone is a vastly bigger menace than a lone driver at 120kph on a 4 lane highway

Re:Already being done (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#37487022)

How about the driver on the 4 lane highway in moderate traffic weaving in and out of so they can get that extra 10mph? Speed at inappropriate times kills.

Re:Already being done (1)

Vegemeister (1259976) | more than 2 years ago | (#37487160)

But that's reckless driving. Ticket them for that.

Re:Already being done (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#37487268)

Reckless is subjective; it is much easier to enter evidence of speed, an objective measurement, in court. Why are they being reckless? Because that want to speed. A drone can be used to place both charges.
Even at that, speed reduces reaction time and vehicle control. I am not for 55mph limits on roads designed for 70mph; that is just stupid and annoying. What I am against is idiots who want to do 100MPH just because they can afford a hot car and have no regard for other people on the highway..

Re:Already being done (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#37486848)

Interesting idea on what a "victimless crime" is. Tell that to the innocent driver who is hit by the speeder.

Don't be an idiot. Someone "speeding" on an empty rural highway isn't a danger to anyone. A busy metro-area highway is a different matter.

Helicopters are used as chase vehicles.

How often do you need to chase someone in the middle of nowhere? The OP talked about painted stripes on the road to calculate speed; that can't be used on busy metro highways because there's too much traffic; it's a method only useful in more rural areas.

If you want to catch traffic violators, it's simple: it's called a police car. Put a policeman in a car and make him drive around in the traffic, looking for violations. Even better, having him there usually makes people drive better anyway, just like putting visible cops in bad neighborhoods reduces crime there. You don't get that effect with surveillance measures.

Re:Already being done (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#37487146)

Don't be an idiot. Someone "speeding" on an empty rural highway isn't a danger to anyone. A busy metro-area highway is a different matter.

A rural highway is empty right up until there is something on the road. The person going too fast may not be able to see it in time to react and avoid it. To turn this a bit personal, my sister was killed on a rural highway by a speeder who didn't see her till it was too late.

Helicopters are used as chase vehicles.

How often do you need to chase someone in the middle of nowhere?

They do chase people on highways near cities though.

The OP talked about painted stripes on the road to calculate speed; that can't be used on busy metro highways because there's too much traffic; it's a method only useful in more rural areas.

Why can't marks on the road and shoulder be used to time vehicles in heavy traffic? It is easy to spot a vehicle driving above the limit from the air and time how long it takes to go between two marks on the road. Have you ever watched a chase from the air. The only difference here is the use of a drone instead of an aircraft. Here are the specs for Australia [nsw.gov.au]

Re:Already being done (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#37487226)

To turn this a bit personal, my sister was killed on a rural highway by a speeder who didn't see her till it was too late.

Maybe your rural highways are different from ours, but how do you "not see" another driver until it's too late on a 4-lane highway? It's not like there's any sharp turns or other visual obstructions, and surely the guy wasn't driving a Lamborghini at 180mph. Sounds like the other driver was impaired, not merely "speeding". And how do you tell what a "safe speed" is anyway? How can it be possible that the "safe speed" for a rural highway is the same as the safe speed for a busy metro-area highway?

Re:Already being done (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#37487360)

Not all rural highways are 4 lanes; many are 2 lanes. No sharp turns on rural highways? I used to live in the mountains where there were plenty of sharp turns. There are also hills which limit vision. I am talking highway not freeway.My sister was a pedestrian crossing the highway. She didn't see the car coming and the car didn't see her till it was too late. The vehicle was doing 80mph in a 55mph zone. Maybe if he had been doing the limit he could have avoided her or she may have been able to get out of the way. The speed limit was low because it was a populated rural area with lots of kids and animals.

Highway speeds and metro speeds are generally different. For example, outside Vancouver the speed on Highway 1 is 100kmh, Closer to Vancouver it drops to 80kmh when congestion becomes an issue. Same highway, different area, different speed limit.

Re:Already being done (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#37487530)

No sharp turns on rural highways? I used to live in the mountains where there were plenty of sharp turns. There are also hills which limit vision.

I live in the western USA. Sharp turns are very rare, and only in mountains. Most places there's visibility for miles and the roads are straight as an arrow, and hills are rare and gradual (they usually cut through hills). So why not have a higher speed limit on the straight parts, and a lower speed limit in the mountains?

I am talking highway not freeway.

Same thing, sorta. A "freeway" generally means a highway inside a city. A "highway" is any limited-access high-speed road with no intersections.

My sister was a pedestrian crossing the highway.

That's not a highway if there's pedestrians on it. Here in the USA, there are no pedestrians; they're forbidden on interstate highways. The only time they're around is when their car has broken down or similar.

The vehicle was doing 80mph in a 55mph zone.

That's probably not a highway, and that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about rural highways. Here in the western US, most rural highways have speed limits of 75mph. In the eastern US, most of them are 65mph, but in many places even that's too slow.

The speed limit was low because it was a populated rural area with lots of kids and animals.

Again, not a highway like I'm talking about. There's no kids on interstate highways, and if there are, you should be able to see them well in advance.

I have no problems with sensible speed limits in populated areas or places where there's likely to be pedestrians. My problem is when artificially-low limits are placed on roads where the safe speed is really much higher, because there's little traffic, it's in a rural area, and no reason for it to be so slow (mountains, etc.), and then police resources are wasted looking for "speeders" in these places. When you're driving in an area where it's 100 miles or more between any kind of populated area, there is no reason to drive slow.

Interstate is not the only highway (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#37487768)

That goes to show how little you actually know about the "highway [wikipedia.org]" system. A Freeway is a limited access highway. The US has a network of highways called Interstates. They also have US and State highway networks that do not have the access restrictions as an Interstate. Here is a good example of a 2 lane windy hilly highway in the US; Highway 1 [wikipedia.org] in California. It is a rural highway with areas that are populated.

My sister was killed on a section of Highway 3, also called the Southern Trans-Canada Highway. So yes it was a highway and not a US Interstate.

I guess you also have no animals in your state. Run into a deer, elk,moose, bear, etc because you couldn't stop or avoid in time due to high speed is going to hurt a lot. There is a difference between slow, 55mph, and above your sight/reaction range and vehicle capability, 100mph. Most modern cars can cruise at that higher speed.

Re:Interstate is not the only highway (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#37487924)

I guess you also have no animals in your state. Run into a deer, elk,moose, bear, etc because you couldn't stop or avoid in time due to high speed is going to hurt a lot. There is a difference between slow, 55mph, and above your sight/reaction range and vehicle capability, 100mph. Most modern cars can cruise at that higher speed.

Yes, we have elk in Arizona. I've seen them on small roads near the Canyon, but not on interstates. If you hit an elk at 100mph, it's because you weren't paying attention. There's no way to not see such a large animal in the daytime, even at that speed; visibility here is for miles. And even those are only in the northern part of the state. In the southern part, it's all desert, so there's no large animals at all, just open desert. There's really nothing to hit.

Obviously, it's different at night, but that's the case anywhere, not just on a freeway. Speed limits should not be (and generally aren't) set for safe nighttime speeds, but daytime speeds.

Re:Interstate is not the only highway (1)

David_Hart (1184661) | more than 2 years ago | (#37488038)

I am on the east coast and drive the Interstate back and forth to work. Because of the high traffic volume around Boston during rush hour, its actually more dangerous to the drivers for the poilice to be patrolling. Every time a car sees the poilice, they slow down, even if they are doing the speed limit. This invariably has a domino effect, with some poor driver 40 cars back having to slam on their brakes to avoid hitting the car in front of them that just stopped, sometimes successful, sometimes not.

Some people would argue that the problem is drivers driving too close together, but unless you drive here you just do not understand the shear volume of traffic.

By the way, If you run into a Moose at even 55 MPH and you are a goner... Your only hope at that point is to be in a SUV or truck and catch the Moose in the body. In fact, if you are going to run into a moose and you cant avoid it, you are better off hitting the gas as it raises your hood. You just might get lucky and hit it in the belly instead of it going through your windshield.

I'm sorry to hear about your sister, but I doubt that speed was the primary factor. My guess is that neither your sister nor the driver were concentrating on what they were doing. People, not necessarily your sister, have a tendency to stroll across highways, especially at tourist stops, like they are crossing the street in a city. They expect a car to stop on a dime. That doesn't excuse the driver at all, but speed usually isn't the only cause.

My father likes to recount the time a truck driver was going down the highway and hit an ambulance with its lights on parked off to the side of the highway. On the other side of the road was a fire truck with it's lights on. He had a dog in the car and stated that he was being distracted and didn't see the ambulance.

The point is that most accidents are caused by drivers doing something else other than driving. It's true that speed lowers your reaction time. But a distracted driver will get into an accident no matter what speed they are traveling. That's why most jurisdictions ban talking on the phone unless you are using bluetooth.

David

Re:Interstate is not the only highway (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#37488252)

Sorry but you just don't get the idea of what happens when you speed.
1. Reaction times are decreased. That extra second or two may make the difference between being able to do something and it already being too late.
2. Vehicles take longer to stop and are less manoeuvrable when at high speeds. Try to avoid an object on the road when doing 55 and then try the same manoeuvre at 100. I doubt you will have the same success; you may even crash.

The point I was trying to make is that you have less chance of avoiding a critical situation if you are going 100mph than if you are going 55mph or even 70mph.

Even if most accidents are caused by inattention, and I am not agreeing with that, at least some are caused by excessive speed.

The accident with my sister was heavily investigated and it was determined that the driver was speeding at the time and that it was a major contributing factor. It was a quiet stretch of rural highway with houses on either side.

Re:Already being done (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37488186)

I think you're both dancing around a more reasonable assertion... sometimes driving fast on the highway is fine, sometimes it's not, but it's hard to make objective assessments about it so we have speed limits.

But anyway, here's an idea... instead of the million dollar drones, they could probably just hire like 10 more cops with cruisers that can do all kinds of real work. You could even keep 2 or 3 of them out on the desolate highway where you're worried about someone speeding.

Re:Already being done (1)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 2 years ago | (#37488212)

'Highway' doesn't necessarily mean a nice, 4-lane, divided, controlled-access road with no sharp turns. A highway, in Australia at least, is any trunk road between towns/cities designated as such. Plenty are crappy 2 lane roads with sharp turns, particularly in the mountainous areas in the east of the country. Hell, there are even designated state highways in Australia that are DIRT ROADS (e.g. parts of the Silver City Highway north of Broken Hill).

Having said that, as I local, I can tell you that the road in Canberra that is getting these point-to-point cameras is the Tuggeranong Parkway which is a metro-area, 4-6 lane, divided controlled-access road in relatively good condition. It would be difficult not to see other drivers on it. However Canberra also has a BIG problem with kangaroos - far moreso than any other capital city in Australia. Plague proportions really ... you'd be hard pressed to find a driver here that hasn't hit, or nearly hit, a kangaroo. And those are pretty big animals - cause as much damage as hitting a deer in the US.

Re:Already being done (1)

Demonoid-Penguin (1669014) | more than 2 years ago | (#37488428)

Don't be an idiot. Someone "speeding" on an empty rural highway isn't a danger to anyone.

Like the fuckwits that come through my fences once a month? It says 90 kph but you dickheads always blame something else and talk about how speed limits are just to raise revenue. When my stock get out on the road because you lost control doing 140 kmph on a 90 kmph rural road is it still not a danger to anyone. The world isn't your road - you aren't the only one that uses the roads - if you think you need to speed - go to a racetrack or buy and alarm clock and get out of bed earlier.

You don't want speed limits - fuck off the Germany - but don't complain when your car doesn't pass muster for access to the autobahns. Speed limits are there to because that's the speed that can safely be done, in best conditions, in the lowest denominator registerable vehicle. Oh course, you'd be one of those dicks that calls the cops when you drive past and see me with a rifle - even though I'm not shooting in the direction of the road (and I'm not breaking the law).

I Am Amazed (3, Insightful)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 2 years ago | (#37485624)

I am truly amazed at just how much Big Brother that the (formerly, and once fiercely) independent Australians are willing to put up with. Virtually no private ownership of guns any more. Non-opt out Internet filtering. Now P2P traffic monitoring. How long before they regulate out of existence the Aussie equivalent of the pit bull - the legendary Australian Cattle Dog?

Re:I Am Amazed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37485688)

It's a tin-pot country, and they've always been one of the most over-regulated in the world. There's a bureaucrat for everything in Australia.

Re:I Am Amazed (1)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 2 years ago | (#37486100)

As opposed to the UK, where there's a whole panel of overpaid consultants for every bereaucrat. You know, to make sure they're not wasting money.

Re:I Am Amazed (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 2 years ago | (#37485868)

Virtually no private ownership of guns any more

At least three of my friends have gun licenses, all for recreational purposes. And I'm not even in a demographic where you'd expect gun ownership to be particularly high.

Non-opt out Internet filtering.

Hasn't happened yet

Now P2P traffic monitoring.

Huh? Where did you get P2P from? They're substituting big, expensive, noisy choppers for small, cheap, quiet drones

How long before they regulate out of existence the Aussie equivalent of the pit bull - the legendary Australian Cattle Dog?

Actually, the American Pit Bull is pretty much legislated out of existence. On the other hand, nobody's ever suggested legislation against cattle dogs as far as I'm aware - they don't have a breed temperament conducive to excessive aggression, which is why the pit bull is heavily legislated against.

Re:I Am Amazed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37485908)

How long before they regulate out of existence the Aussie equivalent of the pit bull - the legendary Australian Cattle Dog?

the sooner the better

Re:I Am Amazed (5, Informative)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 2 years ago | (#37486016)

I think you might have taken a few exaggerated and inaccurate Slashdot headlines without the requisite grain of salt:

- Your point about guns is true, but keep in mind the context you are talking about here. There was very, very little private ownership of guns in Australia from the start. Gun laws were indeed toughened up and a buy-back instituted during the late 90s but it wasn't a particularly controversial issue because we simply don't have the gun culture that countries like the US do. If you have a legitimate reason to own guns (sports shooter, farmer, security, etc etc.) and are appropriately licensed, you could, and still can, own a gun. But the rest of us don't care that we can't because 99.9% of us never did and have probably never thought about guns in our lives.

- What non-opt out internet filtering? Please stop spreading this myth. That proposal never even made it to the "introduced into Parliament as a Bill" stage, let alone actually got through the House and Senate and enacted into law. It was shot down in flames by the public and by most of the political parties. Two ISPs did implement a very basic filter blocking a handful of sites using a trivial-to-overcome method (they were not forced to do so - they did it of their own accord). But there are literally dozens of choices of ISPs in almost every area and if you don't like it, you are free to move to on of the other 95% of ISPs who don't filter.

- What P2P traffic monitoring? I honestly have no idea what you are talking about and I follow the Internet industry here pretty closely. Are you confusing something you've read about a ~particular~ ISP's policy, and applying that to the country as a whole?

- Aussie cattle dogs as common as mud here - the stereotypical farmer's or tradesman's dog. They don't generally have the same temperament as a pit bull so I'm not sure why they would be legislated against? Particularly as they are considered a national icon in many ways.

Look I understand where you're coming from, but please, please remember that Slashdot articles are often hyped up, inaccurate and filled with hyperbole. Doubly so for stories originating outside the US where readers might not be aware of the other relevant facts and overall context of the article. The net filtering thing is a good example - it was constantly reported on here as if it was a done deal and we were all going to be subject to mandatory filtering, whereas the reality on the ground is that it was politically untenable and most people could see it couldn't/wasn't going to happen. And it didn't. A proposal by a few senators does not equal an enacted law ... but to this day half of Slashdot seems to think there is some kind of mandatory government-forced filtering here.

The Australian character has changed over the last few decades to be sure (although not so much once you move outside of the large cities). That is inevitable - we are still a young country that is still maturing in many ways. What has changed though is the degree to which every little idea, random thought and proposal is reported on (often in as inflammatory language as possible to get page views).

There are plenty of legitimate criticisms to be levelled against Australia without having to make things up. And on the flip side there are plenty of areas in which we can say we have resisted some of the big brother stuff seen in other countries - we have nowhere near the level of CCTV coverage as Europe does, we still have decent warrant requirements and safeguards regarding wiretapping, we have strong privacy and consumer protection laws, and we can still get on a plane without being nudie scanned, without taking our shoes off, without having to package up our liquids into sandwich bags etc etc. Every country has its vices and I don't think anywhere can truly say it's resisted Big Brother completely, unfortunately.

Re:I Am Amazed (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37486970)

You misunderstood the parent on one point:

P2P in this case != Peer to Peer data traffic
P2P = Point to Point vehicle traffic (confusing use of an acronym I agree).

And yes we have had point to point in melbourne for a while. While I agree in theory with the system, in that it will catch more people speeding, I am against the whole implication that speeding is the sole cause of all road safety issues. There needs to be some push for more driver training (rather than longer on provisional licenses), and more investment in road infrastructure so traffic flows better (and the large volumes are kept to fewer and larger roads, and away from kids playing on back streets)

Re:I Am Amazed (2)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 2 years ago | (#37487562)

Oh, you are right! Apologies to the parent :)

Yeah point-to-point speeding cameras may be new to the ACT but as you say I've seen them in Melbourne before, and there's been some on the Federal Highway in NSW (between Sydney and Canberra) for a while now. First genuinely effective way of ensuring people don't speed on a stretch of road that I've seen (let's face it, once you know where the traditional speed cameras are, you just slow down ... go past ... and speed back up again). They are a bit irritating because, yes I admit, I usually set the cruise control on 117 km/h going from CBR to SYD (on 110 km/h roads), which won't get you pulled over in NSW, but is enough to trigger these P2P cameras. The stretch between Canberra and Sydney is quite a decent distance too - around 30-40 km between each end, so you have to make sure you don't go over 110 at all during that period.

Re:I Am Amazed (1)

Ocker3 (1232550) | more than 2 years ago | (#37487106)

The most extreme security measures I've seen at an Australian airport security site was the explosive swab-down, which I've had twice. I'm willing to go through that Every time I fly if it means we avoid those silly scanners and invasive pat-downs. You stand there with your arms out, they run a wand over different parts of your body (it has a felt tip), they wait a few seconds for an analysis, and you're done! Incredibily minimally invasive. The vast majority of Australian murders are crimes of passion, and the perpetrators get caught Real quick (apart from the gangland murders, which for the vast majority only involve actual crooks, as shocking as they are for the bystanders). I love this country, I'm getting happier and happier to live here rather than in the US and the UK, even Canada.

Re:I Am Amazed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37487946)

Three words: "average speed cameras".

Two more: "Julia Gillard".

One more: pussies.

Re:I Am Amazed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37488090)

While we're on the topic of dispelling myths (and I did find your post very informative):

Pit bulls are no more dangerous than other large dogs. There's no denying that they can be taught, more easily than many large dogs, to be aggressive. The myth is that all pits are dangerous or killers. A pit raised well, like any other breed, will be a good house dog. You can raise a poodle to be aggressive, like any other breed by mistreating it. It just won't be particularly "effective" or threatening. I've met several pits and they've been the nicest dogs I have known, besides some Great Pyrenees I've met.

Pits are as sweet and caring (or more) than other breeds. It is sad that so many people have abused them in order to make them aggressive. Their bodies are more built for aggression than a lot of other breeds, but their temperament is more sweet by far when raised by any normal person.

Re:I Am Amazed (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 2 years ago | (#37486054)

I've actually started to wonder if the solution to government monitoring is to just open source it.

Imagine tons of cameras posting GUIDs for faces and plate numbers with timestamps and locations all over the web, and uploading them to centralized databases that ANYBODY can see. Suddenly NOBODY has privacy. You could pull up a photo of every person who ever walked into CIA headquarters, or find the home address of every judge in the country. When somebody commits a crime the press and the victim's family can probably figure out who it was at around the same time as the police. When somebody is arrested during a protest the identity of the protestors and the police are known to all.

Taboos will change since all those things people claim to dispise but do anyway would just be open for all to see.

Maybe privacy is just something fundamentally incompatible with the information age. Maybe what we need to do is at least level the playing fields.

See David Brin's Transparent Society book (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | more than 2 years ago | (#37486374)

http://www.davidbrin.com/transparent.htm [davidbrin.com]

Which suggests much the same as you did.

And also see "The light of other days" by others as a sci-fi story with a related theme of cultural transformation:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Light_of_Other_Days [wikipedia.org]

In general, it's ironic we will put all these computer resources into surveilling people who we fear are up to no good (like stealing property or escaping from society via drugs) instead of just building robots (and other infrastructure) to make what people want along with providing a basic income so they can purchase such things. Related by me:
http://www.pdfernhout.net/recognizing-irony-is-a-key-to-transcending-militarism.html [pdfernhout.net]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vK-M_e0JoY [youtube.com]

Re:I Am Amazed (1, Insightful)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 2 years ago | (#37486218)

But how different is that from their Northern Hemisphere cousins the Americans?

We States dwellers fought a damned revolution in the name of minimal, just government, liberty, and independence. Almost 250 years later we are habitually putting more power in the hands of the Federal government, mandating or outlawing just about everything (at least if you live in California), turning the other cheek when the NSA wiretaps our phone companies, and naming legislation that suspends Habeus Corpus the God damned PATRIOT Act, of all things.

It seems that, for some reason, once societies get to a certain level of comfort, they inevitably start fucking up their citizens' lives for no good reason other than sheer boredom and, possibly, social paranoia of invisible boogeymen.

Americans used to wrestle bears and Australians used to wrestle crocodiles but these days we'll sell out our rights as soon as we hear the words "terrorist!," or, "pedophile!"

Re:I Am Amazed (1)

Ocker3 (1232550) | more than 2 years ago | (#37487070)

Internet filtering has effectively been killed, it's been delayed and delayed and delayed. No way it's going to be implemented in the current minority government environment. As to outlawing Cattle Dogs, they're Not the equivalent of the pit bull, in shape, feature, purpose or Training.

Re:I Am Amazed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37487480)

I'll leave you to read the other comments about the real Australia, but as for the 'fiercely independent' part, the Commonwealth of Australia has since its inception had a strong treaty commitment to a large foreign power, first Britain and now the USA. Don't believe the cliches old boy, it's not all Crocodile Dundee around here and it never has been.

What the world needs now is love sweet love (1)

Tommy Bologna (2431404) | more than 2 years ago | (#37485924)

... and some commercially-available, affordable anti-aircraft missiles. We'll see your drones and raise you a family-pack of Stingers.

Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37486032)

Drones? Really? Canberra already has enough speed cameras everywhere!

Re:Really? (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 2 years ago | (#37486250)

Drones? Really? Canberra already has enough speed cameras everywhere!

And elected drones too.

How long before one crashes and kills someone? (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 2 years ago | (#37486294)

There are very specific laws and regulations dealing with where you can and can't fly hobby remote control aircraft, and not just in Australia. A small lightweight aircraft can be deadly. Even a small weight moving quickly can be very dangerous. (Heck a small treebranch fell on me at the local zoo on a windy day about a week ago and the damn thing felt like I'd been clubbed unexpectedly with a baseball bat. Presumably it fell from a good height). Add a propeller and now you have a nice mix master missle coming out of the sky at you. It's not just theoretical. People have been killed by hobby r/c aircraft. People have lost fingers on the ground just starting the things. So you're not permitted to fly above people. Now I grant you these drones will be more sophisticated and presumably have a failsafe should a control signal be lost, but things can and will go wrong. How long before someone is killed or maimed?

A comment from a recent repatriated Canberran (1)

xav_jones (612754) | more than 2 years ago | (#37486668)

I returned to Canberra 8 months ago after 6 years overseas, living in both Germany and the US (well, California!). Some things we are very glad to be back to and some leave me with a slack jaw. This is one of them. Here is the comment I --usually politically apathetic, like most Australians -- posted to the article linked to in the summary.

Irrespective of whether we can trust the AFP, the installation of point-to-point speed cameras which have "relatively low infringement rates" seems like a gross over-reaction to a non-existent problem. The data --crazy I know to look at it when considering emotionally driven issues -- does not bear out the expense http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/D18CA4EA930FF0D2CA25773700169CE5?opendocument [abs.gov.au]

Suggesting that reducing tolerances to increase infringements (in this case, I see no other reason than for revenue) to pay for a system that is not needed is abusive. Will it reduce deaths?

The short of the data is that the ACT has about half the traffic accident-related fatalities of the western world, including those countries noted for above-average driving abilities. Indeed, one might argue that Canberra has the safest roads in the world. It makes one ask the question, what is the target death rate? Zero? As always the last 10% takes 90% of the effort and in this case, I believe, such a low rate can be accepted as part of the inherent risk of driving.

Re:A comment from a recent repatriated Canberran (1)

thogard (43403) | more than 2 years ago | (#37487136)

You won't get zero deaths on a road because it is a common yet underreported method for suicide.

A traffic group in South Australia published a paper that said you double the accident rate for every 5 km increase in speed and that became the basis for traffic safety programs in Victoria and NSW. That report didn't take into account traffic density but since they are in a sleepy town of Adelaide, maybe it was beyond their comprehension that as you slow down traffic, you increase its density in odd ways that will lead to more accidents. The report has a few other problem like using data from other places were speed limits aren't hard limits but recommended maximum speed and not labelling their axis. A report cited in an Auditor General's report described the science in that study as poor. If you go back to their source data it appears that they were talking about risk of an accident at 25 km over the limit is half of that at 30 km over the limit but driving 25 km over the limit is about 4000 times safer than following less than 3 seconds. I suspect the dependence on that report to set policy has killed somewhere between 30 and 100 Victorians every year for the last decade.

Bring out the drigible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37486758)

Certainly no such thing is happening!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/06/AR2006080600499.html

Australia is shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37486996)

45% marginal tax rate. I'm moving.

Re:Australia is shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37487766)

the 45% doesn't kick in until $180k.
At $180k you've paid an effective tax rate of 30%.

No bad economy here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37487176)

We have unlimited tax dollars to spend on any kind of shit we can dream up.

Where is "Canberra"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37487338)

Why would the submitter and "editor" assume anyone outside Canberra would have heard of the place and know where it is?

Would it really have bruised nationalist egos to write "Canberra, Australia"?

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