Traffic cops go hi-tech

2012-10-05 00:00

TRAFFIC law enforcement in KwaZulu-Natal went hi-tech yesterday with the launch of a mobile camera system designed to identify unlicensed vehicles and those with outstanding fines.

Launched by the provincial Transport Department, the national department is keeping a keen eye on the system and, if successful, could roll it out nationally.

If it works, the system will change the way roadblocks are conducted.

Six Road Traffic Inspectorate vehicles have been equipped with special cameras able to read number plates as they stand at the roadside, or even as they travel with other traffic.

The plates registered by the cameras are sent wirelessly to a central database of unlicensed vehicles, stolen vehicles, those with outstanding fines and those not registered on eNatis.

Information pertaining to the vehicles is relayed back to the officers operating the system in about four seconds, allowing them to take action immediately. It is also intended to use the specially equipped vehicles about three kilometres away from roadblocks.

This will allow the officers operating the system time to alert their colleagues at the roadblocks to offending vehicles as they approach.

Speaking at the launch in Howick yesterday, Transport MEC Willies Mchunu said the camera system, coupled with the introduction of Average Speed Over Distance enforcement, will help curb habitual speedsters.

Average speed prosecution prevented motorists travelling on the N3 from slowing down at known speed enforcement sites, and then speeding up again after passing them.

“Automatic number plate recognition cameras are already strategically located on sections of road where high accident rates have been identified,” said Mchunu.

The cameras record the number plates of all vehicles passing at that point, and send them wirelessly to a server in Pietermaritzburg. It uses the information to determine the class of vehicle and its applicable speed limit.

When the vehicle passes a subsequent camera, its number plate is recognised and its average speed between the two points calculated, and if necessary a fine is issued.

This system is also designed to flag wanted and stolen vehicles.

The system was put to the test yesterday and a number of vehicles were found with fraudulent number plates.

Also nabbed was a motorist who had not renewed his licence disc since 2004 — he had been photocopying it.

Deputy Transport Minister Sindi Chikunga said her department would roll out the project nationally if it proved successful in KZN.

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