The state of Arizona has recently unveiled a new laser unit designed to detect the distance at which cars are following one another.
Using a new laser device that measures the distance between two moving vehicles, officers are citing hundreds of motorists with tailgating tickets that can run more than $100. And they are promising more to come.
Beaudoin said the new device is virtually argument-proof. With it he can show drivers exactly how close they were following another vehicle.
“I love it. It seems to be a great tool,” he said. “It seems to be educating the people I do stop.”
I hate tailgaters as much or more than anyone else, but this is a very, very bad idea for so many reasons… Rather than going on about it, I’ll just stick to two reasons.
- Selective enforcement of laws is the main problem, and this tool will not solve it. For example, if I’m driving my NSX (top speed 170 MPH) 75 mph in a 70 mph zone on a long straight deserted highway in Texas I might get ticketed for speeding – even though I pose no danger to anyone. However I’ve never, ever, heard of a police officer handing out a ticket to a driver in a minivan going 55mph in a 70 zone. Why would they? Well, impeding the flow of traffic is against the law as well. And believe me, those drivers are the ones causing all the road rage and stacking up traffic.
- Lets say that you’re driving along in fairly heavy traffic in the right lane. You come upon someone driving 10 mph below the speed limit and you are trying to get around them, but the traffic is heavy in the left lane. Eventually you make your way over between two cars, but it’s a little tighter than you’d like. Say… only about a 1.5 second gap between you and the car in front of you. As soon as you get past the slow moving car you pull back into the right lane only to discover you’re being pulled over by a cop with a new toy who tells you that you violated the 2 second rule.
The bottom line is that this tool is going to be used to enforce a very subjective law. Whenever you give an officer of the state free license to interpret their own constraints you have a very big problem on your hands.
Read the full article here.
Steve LaCluyse says
How about ‘drone’ cars (robot cars that drive themselves, while the ‘driver’ can relax and read/sleep etc.), this is the only way to solve the speeding / tailgating / accidents problem. I saw that google was working on developing a system like this that used gps and had a ‘automatic driver’. This would solve 99% of all driving problems! Computers dont tailgate, speed, get upset, get roadrage, etc.
Tom Moore says
I am prepared to pay for a system for my car that detects how far behind me the next car is, translates my speed into a minimum separation, then flashes my center brake light (and my dashboard flasher lights) if the next car gets closer that that, continuing until he drops back. Tailgaters would be free to ignore my flasher, but then they would have no call to be upset if and when they are pulled over by the police.
Earlier version of my thinking on this included spraying wiper fluid onto the car behind me, or worse, but I finally realized that the third brake light is perfect for getting the point across in a considerate way, and automated actuation saves me from being overly distracted by a tailgater.
The dangers of tailgating should not be underestimated. There is another article detailing the physics and motivations of tailgating at http://www.drivers.com/article/1126/
I think the minimum distance between vehicles on the Autobahn is a knd of 50% of your speed. Meaning you drive 100km/h the minimum distance is 50 meters. The police in germany is using since 15 years a radar/video combination on many bridges in germany. There are lines painted on the Autobahn and they know exactly your speed and distance to the car in front of you… at least they knew mine.
Watching that Video cost me 200 Marks and the generous offer to leave my driving-license with them for 6 weeks…
Sounds like a good idea to me, I hate when a car is too close to you on the freeway…
I got here by googling tailgating enforcement. I swear I’m a small govt supporter, but tailgating needs to be enforced. Maybe you should be doing it for more than an instant, but tailgaters are the cause of traffic jams (due to the reactions of motorists behind them).
I know my sentences really didn’t work out very well for me, but I bet if people didn’t tailgate, you wouldn’t have as many traffic jams. People should also be ticketed for driving slowly.
Actually there are speed limits on most of the Autobahn now but the majority of enforcement is on safety enforcement. The biggest differences are the designs of the system and the awareness of the drivers. They have installed some pretty cool technology such as dynamic signs that detect conjested traffic and adjust speed limits.
Some of the things you mentioned about car equipment are tested and if your tires, for example, aren’t rated high enough your car has a decal that equates to the top speed you can go.
I would rather efforts be made to improve safe driving behavior than pull someone over for going 7 miles over the speed limit on an empty road.
The Man says
There is one huge difference between US roads and the Authbahn… speed limits!
On the Autobahn the only thing they can enforce is driving distance, and it is entirely appropriate. But in the US what’s next? Tire tread depth detectors? Washer fluid reservoir level detection? Windshield wiper degredation detection? Bug splatter visibility impediment detection?
It reminds me of the movie iRobot. In one scene Viki, the maniacal computer, decides that the only way to keep humans safe is to enslave them. Sonny, the good robot, says “Your logic is perfect. But it just seems too heartless.”
As a safety measure, enforcement of proper driving distances is far more effective than enforcing speed limits. On the Autobahn they have unmarked cars, cameras, and motorcycles with cameras looking to enforce these types violations. It requires a different mentality than what most drivers have in the US but I would rather see more money spent on enforcing these laws than speed limits. By the way, on the Autobahn tailgating of less than 30% of the recommended distance (about 1/2 second) with speeds over 100km/hr can result in the loss of ones liscense for 1-3 months.