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More Tickets In The Mail? U.K. Looking At Tire Cameras

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On: Tue, Oct 4, 2011 at 11:30AM | By: Chris Weiss

More Tickets In The Mail? U.K. Looking At Tire Cameras

A couple weeks ago, I opened up my mailbox to find a nice, little ticket from the NJ Turnpike Authority. You see, I had been driving with an EZ-Pass automatic pay scanner, but apparently the scanner didn't work on this particular toll both. Unfortunately, the license plate camera did, and I was stuck opening a stupid traffic ticket.

Frankly, I could live without the surprise tickets created by Big Brother-like technology spying on our vehicles. But it's a growing reality. In the U.K., such sensors may not apply just to missed tolls and red lights; they may be able to check your tires for illegally low tread patterns.

U.K. drivers may no longer need to use a penny (or whatever the U.K. equivalent is) to check their tread depths. They may find a ticket in the mail that does it for them.

Auto Express reports that the U.K.'s Association of Chief Police Officers has shown some interest in a tire-depth sensor built by German-based ProContour. The sensor is built into the road surface and measures the tire tread by way of a series of cameras and lasers. It sounds a warning if the tread is less than 1.6 mm in the central 75 percent of the tire.

According to a spokesman from the ACPO, the point of the scanner wouldn't be to issue points—at least not right away—but would be to serve as a warning, with a tire checkpoint located farther down the road. The report says nothing one way or the other about potential fines.

Not surprisingly, some folks aren't thrilled about the development, and question whether the cost of such a device (50,000 euros) wouldn't be better spent on other initiatives affecting things like drunk driving and cell phone usage.

It's kind of a scary development. I can understand the value in a red-light camera—though there's certainly some disagreement as to their accuracy and effectiveness—but worn tires? Unless the government wants to start offering grants for new tire payment, I think it should worry about more pressing issues. Sure, bald tires can be dangerous, but it seems like there are a lot more dangerous things to concentrate on. And the way to get people to spend hundreds on new tires is probably not to start issuing surprise fines.

Hopefully, we never hear about this system here in the U.S.


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