Red light cameras in Finland have gotten a little smarter. Now instead of simply taking a picture of people who are running red lights, Finland’s cameras will also be catching speeders, those traveling with expired insurance, people not wearing a seat belt, and even busting tailgaters.
The cameras cost the government a whopping $70,000 a piece and will sit on the side of the road, taking the place of traditional red light cameras that are already in place on Finnish streets. The cameras use a wireless data connection to connect to the “real” policemen, and use an internal generator for powers, which makes them self-sufficient.
The cameras are called ASSET, which stands for Advanced Safety and Driver Support for Essential Road Transport, and take a picture of both you and your license plate when you travel through intersections in order to determine whether you’re sporting a seat belt, as well as run your plates for things like insurance.
While the cameras are currently only being used on Finnish roads, it stands to reason that if they are any kind of success we could see them hit the United States as well. The U.S. already uses traditional red light cameras in a number of locations, adding cameras that could also write tickets for seat belts and insurance would more than likely bring a lot more money into the states that do use them over time.
A red light camera that can do so much almost negates the need to have a police officer ever stationed in that particular area. Not knowing what the average traffic cop makes per year, I would imagine that the cameras would pay for themselves in labor alone in around two years. Theoretically they would be writing a decent amount of tickets each day as well, which could dramatically improve their usefulness as well.
Despite being financially responsible from a government standpoint, the cameras add a new interesting element to the areas they are in. Will drivers always drive safely because they know they’re being watched by the ASSSET camera? Is it fair for a camera to decide whether you’re guilty or not guilty of a traffic violation? In the event you were pulled over by the police you could explain why you weren’t wearing a seat belt, why your insurance was out, or why you were driving so close to the car in front of you….the ASSET camera isn’t going to give you that opportunity.
What do you think about having a red light camera that can also check for all of those things? Do you think they would be an asset to have? Or is it a Big Brother type situation?