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Avoiding Speed Cameras…

Garmin Street Pilot

As speed traps have become more commonly used, drivers have figured out ways to avoid them. Some flash their high beams at oncoming traffic to notify them of a speed trap, others use radar or GPS devices that sound off an alarm.

At the beginning of the year, the Swiss government began fighting back by outlawing the use of a GPS device to warn drivers of speed traps. Police will be able to stop drivers who use these GPS devices, fine them and take and destroy their GPS unit. The government has also created a list of GPS units that retailers should remove from their shelves.

Reading this, a couple of questions came up. First, how would a cop know if you were using your legally obtained GPS device to find speed traps or to just find your way around town. And the second question had to do with speed traps in general.

Recently I purchased a Garmin GPS device to use in my car. It’s invaluable when travelling near or far, letting me know exactly which route to take to my final destination and if I get off track, it recalculates and finds me a new route instantly. The voice is very easy to understand the directions are clear and concise. And if I need to make a pit stop on my way for food or gas, I can quickly do a search of area food or gas stations and it will add that to my itinerary. But back to my first question, if I were to be pulled over and fined for using this device and then even worse, have the unit pulled from my car and destroyed, I’d be pissed to say the least. The Swiss law, for example, seems to saying that if people are using a specifically branded device, it can be confiscated, regardless of whether they can prove you were using it illegally or not. In other words, if the cop looks in your car and sees a GPS device that’s on their list, they are going to take it from you and leave you with a fine. Since the device was legally obtained and the law doesn’t specifically prohibit the use of GPS devices for directions, it seems like a slippery slope.

My second question had to do with speed traps in general. If the purpose of a speed camera or speed trap was to get people to slow down and drive safely, then I would think that having a device that warns you of such areas would be a good thing. Certainly there would be people that would just slow down in specific areas and speed in others, but typically speed traps are put in places that require a slower speed due to speeding issues. However, if the point of a speed trap is to make money for local government regardless of public safety, then I could see why a government would want to outlaw such a device—it’s going to cut into their revenue. And that tends to be more in line with what I think it going on. These speed traps are revenue generators, they make money. The government isn’t as concerned with keeping drivers safe as they are interested in making sure they make enough money to cover their costs.

The Swiss government’s stance on this issue is just the first we’re hearing, but I’m sure other governments will be following suit very soon. They’ve invested a lot of money in the infrastructure to ticket drivers through the use of cameras and radars and don’t want to see their investments lost. Of course, outlawing a device won’t stop people from finding other ways to get around these speed traps. Some people might just go back to flashing their high beams, and then what will they do, outlaw headlights.

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