The Ruffian

Red-Light Cameras, Italian Style. New York Times Wheels.

Posted in Uncategorized by The Ruffian on February 4, 2009

For the last two years, the T-Redspeed traffic-camera system has been catching drivers in Italy running red lights, speeding and making illegal turns. Now its inventor and more than 100 other people, including 63 police officers, are being investigated for fraud.

The Independent reported that Stefano Arrighetti, who created the T-Redspeed system, is under house arrest. The newspaper said the “smart” traffic-light system was programmed to change from yellow to red in half the amount of regulation time (three seconds instead of the usual five or six).

“Prosecutors in Verona maintain that Mr. Arrighetti committed fraud when he supplied his devices to public administrations around Italy because he declared that they had been ratified by the Ministry of Transport,” wrote the Independent. “In fact, while the cameras had been ratified, the computer hardware that registered offenses had not been. Mr. Arrighetti was not answering his phone yesterday, and in fact has never given an interview, but his lawyer, Rosario Minniti, maintained that he was blameless in the affair.”

The T-Redspeed system has been in use for two years in 300 areas across Italy, according to the BBC. Initially hailed as a revolutionary system, T-Redspeed employs cameras — linked to traffic lights — that capture 3-D images of vehicles that violate traffic regulations. It is suspected that more than 1 million drivers were fraudulently charged for running red lights, costing drivers as much as $170 million.

Roberto Franzini, police chief of Lerici, alerted authorities after he noticed an abnormally high number of fines for running red lights in February 2007. “There were 1,439 for the previous two months,” he told The Independent. “It seemed too much: at the most our patrols catch 15 per day.”

Red-light cameras have been a touchy subject. In 2001, a San Diego judge threw out 292 red-light tickets because the lights were tinkered with to have short yellows.


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