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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, January 23, 2002

How the speeding program works

 •  The basic questions
 •  The critical questions
 •  Where the cameras are

Advertiser Staff

The state has started a three-year trial program to test the use of high technology to help enforce traffic laws regarding speeding and red-light running. It has contracted with a private contractor, ACS Inc., which uses digital cameras, lasers and computers to capture images of traffic violators and issue them a citation through the mail. How the system works:

* Plate number deliberately blurred for this graphic; two different vehicles shown above

1. Speeding cars photographed

A digital camera linked to a laser gun and mounted in a van takes two pictures simultaneously of cars identified by an operator as possibly exceeding the designated speed threshold. (In automatic mode, the computer picks out the speeding cars.)

At the same time, the camera records several pieces of vital information, including time, date, location and the area's posted speed limit.

If the computer determines the vehicle was speeding, the information is taken on CD-ROM to the Mapunapuna headquarters of ACS State and Local Solutions.

2. Images inspected

ACS staff members at a local office see if there is enough information to support prosecution. This includes making sure that the cameras have captured a clear image of the license plate number and a check to make sure the data shows the car was speeding.

3. License, registration compared

An ACS operator then types the number of the license plate into a computer file, which is "grabbed" once an hour by a computer server in New York, which compares the number against existing motor vehicle registration information supplied by Hawai'i officials.

4. License, photos verified

The license plate numbers are sent to New York, where another computer provides the name and address of the registered owner of the vehicle. The information returns to Honolulu, where an operator makes sure the information about the car matches that in the photos. The operator then types the license plate number into the computer a second time to ensure accuracy.

5. State review, citation issued

The information is then reviewed by a Department of Transportation official. If the information seems valid, a citation for speeding is then sent to the registered owner of the vehicle. State law requires that the citation be mailed within three days of the date of the violation.

• • •

A sample of the citation issued to speeding drivers caught on camera includes the photographs taken and payment options, including using your credit card, telephone or the Internet.

The Honolulu Advertiser