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Old 06-20-2002, 15:55   #1 (permalink)
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Police Error Stings Drivers

From The Daily Telegraph

TWENTY highway patrol vehicles used to issue thousands of speeding fines have been found to have inaccurate speedometers.

A secret report compiled by NSW Police's Traffic Services Branch reveals 20 of the V8 sedans had speedometers which were at least 4km/h out.
They include 13 Ford XR8 and seven Holden SS sedans used for traffic enforcement across NSW, including Albury, Wagga Wagga, Surry Hills, Green Valley, Mosman and Manly.

Police Minister Michael Costa last night asked for a report on the matter from Police Commissioner Ken Moroney.

However, traffic branch chiefs - while admitting the report on the faulty speedometer readings exists - insist the cars' speedometers were not faulty the whole time they were being used to issue fines.

Traffic Services Branch commander, Chief Superintendent Ron Sorrenson, said a review had shown there was no need to refund the "many thousands" of infringement notices issued by police using the cars.

Police who last used them - who must conduct daily checks to ensure their speedo matched their radar readings - vouched for the accuracy of the cars' speedos, he said.

But solicitor Brendon Noney, from Mark Solomon and Associates, last night said people given tickets by officers in cars with the faulty speedometers would have a case to lodge an appeal.

"They would certainly have grounds to appeal their conviction," Mr Noney said.

"Certain things would have to be proven. In particular [the driver] would have to be able to identify the particular police car that was being used by the officer who issued the ticket."

Police policy says the accepted variable speed between a speedometer and a radar is plus or minus 2km/h.

Chf Supt Sorrenson did not dispute the documents obtained by The Daily Telegraph indicating the vehicles were found to be at least 4km/h out the day they were tested.

But he said: "You can't draw a correlation that if a speedo is out on one day, that it's necessarily out three days prior."

He said police, as part of policy, checked speedos every day. "Now you've got a document that highlights some checks on vehicles," he said.

"I've got no problem with that. But if you take it from the extension ... that they were used for speed enforcement when they were not accurate, I would dispute that."

The tests on the state's fleet of about 400 vehicles used for speed enforcement was ordered as part of a 12-month investigation into three Subaru WRXs found to have faulty speedos. Equipment on two of the cars was found to be out by between 3km/h and 8km/h.

The Subarus were approved for a life-long trial by senior police management, including former deputy commissioner Jeff Jarratt.

But an operation was launched, called Sibu, after the WRX faults were found. More than 100 highway patrol officers from the City East and Endeavour Region were interviewed and disciplinary action resulted.

One officer was issued a 181D notice by the commissioner to "show cause" why he should keep his job.

Other officers were ordered to move out of the highway patrol for six months over accusations that included not following service policy for the adequate checking or use of the cars.

The WRX revelations forced police to refund fines and restore demerit points for about 500 NSW motorists.

As a result of Sibu, Traffic Services decided to get all speed enforcement vehicles tested and switched over to an improved, "dynamic" method of speed calibration.

In a memo to all NSW police dated March 15 last year, now-Commissioner Ken Moroney ordered: "All vehicles used for speed detection ... are to have their speedometers checked."

In a subsequent memo to police Region Commanders across the state, dated May 9, John O'Donnell, acting commander of Traffic Technology said: "The review has identified a number of discrepancies in excess of the prescribed specifications."

It asked region commanders to "urgently" track down the last driver of the vehicles to issue a radar speed infringement and get a written confirmation there was an accurate correlation between the speedo and radar when they issued the fine.
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Old 06-20-2002, 17:28   #2 (permalink)
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Typical media beat up!

When they say 'out' by 3-8kph - what exactly do they mean?!?

There is not a SINGLE word to say those speedos are OVER by 3-8kph. They could be under by that amount, and I have a suspicion most of the XR8s are under, because car tests have shown the Falcons to be showing under-rated speeds (ie, 98 instead of 100, etc.) My own car is under-rated by a few k's. If a car is under, then drivers might be getting away with speeds an accurate speedo would pick them up for!

Anything to sell papers.
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Old 06-20-2002, 17:32   #3 (permalink)
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You'd have thought that they would have learnt their lesson after exactly the same thing happened to their WRX pursuit cars. It cost them a lot of money to take back all the fines handed out from these cars.

This is why the stupid 3km over the limit won't work, there is just too much margin for error.
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Old 06-20-2002, 19:16   #4 (permalink)
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Interesting to say the least. Just to give a scenario:

The Police use dynamic speed checks so what they are doing is comparing the radar ground speed to the indicated speed on the car. So, with the speedo out by say 4km/h and an allowance of error versus the radar ground pulse the CUMULATIVE error in this case could be 6km/h.

That doesn't sound too much, however think of it this way; you're doing a bit over the limit trying to pass that jerk near the end of the dual carriageway where the speed limit drops from the freeway figure of 110 to 80. Of course a cop comes the other way and instead of booking jerk for hogging the right lane for the last 10km he pulls you over for say 111 in an 80 zone. On a long weekend that means loss of licence immediately and there's no chance an insurance company will let you insure an XR8 for the next five years. Except in this case you could have been doing 105 which is a simple ticket and points.

So, I support the idea of appeals. Not only that, I'd use a little known loophole in the Police officer's immunity to sue for damages if I'd been riding a bicycle to work (lost the licence remember)!

Sorry venom, you're right, but you're wrong. This could have severely affected people's lives!
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