RSS

The Bulletin

Outsmarting red-light traffic cameras

Posting in Cities

If you've ever been unlucky enough to run a red light patrolled by one of those robo-cameras, you know their fines can run up to $500.

In fact, many people believe these unmanned cameras infringe upon drivers' rights. Gary Biller, president of the National Motorists Association, recently argued that the traffic-light cameras violate  “several key tenets of a citizen’s due process rights,” because there is “no certifiable witness to the alleged violation,” and so therefore, “the defendant loses the right to cross-examine his accuser in court.”

So Jonathan Dandrow developed a way to out-fox the authorities by creating noPhoto, a simple license plate frame that makes the red-light camera pictures useless. The top of the frame is fitted with an optical flash trigger that detects the traffic light camera flash. This trigger activates xenon flashes along the sides of the noPhoto frame, so that when the traffic light camera opens its shutter, the noPhoto emits so much light that your license plate is not visible in the picture.

While the device components are easily purchased at camera supply stores, the noPhoto works at a distance of 150 feet in sunlight, and farther in darkness. NoPhoto's built-in filtering circuit can also differentiate between natural light and the light generated by a traffic light camera flash.The xenon flashes also incrementally increase the amount of light emitted to ensure that even with cameras that emit multiple flashes, the car's license plate will still go unrecognized.

Dandrow insists that the noPhoto is legal because it does not obscure the license plate. He says he has developed a fully functional prototype of the noPhoto, and once it has been tested and certified, the company has plans to mass-produce the item and sell it for around $350 - or what people in many cities pay for a red light ticket. In the meantime, Dandrow is running an Indiegogo campaign to fund the certification process, which can cost up to $50,000.

Photo: Jonathan Dandrow

via [Wired]

— By on October 21, 2012, 8:00 PM PST

Channtal Fleischfresser

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Channtal Fleischfresser has worked for The Economist, WNET/Channel 13, Al Jazeera English, Wall Street Journal and Associated Press. She holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure