Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas & New Year 2008: A Time for Reconciliation and Renewal

Celebrating the true meaning of Christmas

Given that Christmas and the New Year holiday season are just "around the bend", this may be a most propitious occasion to share some personal feelings, after having conducted some serious and protracted "soul searching ":

The climate is simply not as fun and enjoyable as it used to be.

As some of my closest friends and colleagues in this industry have known for some time, I've become somewhat jaded towards some recent and unhealthy trends emerging online over the latter portion of this year.

Some have been of the form of certain "content" appearing on the Internet consisting of:
  • alleged "performance" videos serving as "hit-pieces" and masquerading as reviews
  • certain discussion forums on which opinions proffered by individuals all-too-often appearing to have hidden agendas [ultimately to promote potentially illicit and/or patent-infringing products to the US market or gray market products on lowest price]
  • cowardly forum posts [from those] who need to hide behind fake names or who act as grossly-immature "loose cannons" having more invective than any useful/informed knowledge while typically sporting [fashionably] despicable message signatures replete with product and/or individual character assassination(s)
  • cowardly forum posts by proxy/anonymous/shill users [who use their anonymity in a most cowardly fashion] to conduct their "hit-pieces" as part of a sleazy and ill-conceived "marketing campaign" to make a quick buck (ultimately at the expense of the unsuspecting consumer and the industry at large) pointing to websites with hidden domain registrations for unauthorized "dealers" attempting to sell "illicit" and/or "unauthorized" products [routinely] below MAP guidelines established by the manufacturers to protect [their] legitimate authorized retailer and distribution networks.
  • the use of outright stolen material, copied content or writing and reviewing styles [without permission from the original author] for exploitive and imitative knock-off design
Note: If the domain registration is with an inexpensive registrar (like Go-Daddy) and is either registered as private, hidden, incomplete/bogus, otherwise unknown or by proxy (like Domains by Proxy), be very cautious. Unscrupulous organizations and/or individuals with criminal backgrounds can hide behind such domain registration types.

Online tools for doing so is located below:
The collective fallout from all of this corrosiveness and negative karma is bad for the entire industry.

This is especially [true] for the "good guys" who are continuing to do the right thing [and have been doing so for years] and who don't put mere profit ahead of everything else (like integrity).

I used to regard U.S. national politics of the 90's as being a "blood-sport" (much as the politics of personal destruction is still as pervasive today, I am afraid) and so it is my feeling with the overall jammer [and to a somewhat lesser extent, the detector] industry.

Perhaps its high time that we relegate this situation (both in Washington and in our own industry) to the scrapbook of history of things that looked-better-on-paper than in actual execution.

On certain levels it is becoming more difficult for even someone as well versed in the subject as myself to fully recognize and understand the truth and get to the bottom of some things in this often negative and routinely destructive climate, despite the increased access to "raw" and "unfiltered" information that the Internet provides.

If it is difficult for me, it's damn-near impossible for the "layman" consumer.

Absolute truth is often the first casualty in any "warfare" or a propaganda/smear campaign intended to manipulate and persuade, as opposed to inform and educate.

Unfortunately, this industry [and that includes radar detector manufacturing/retailing] has had a collective of "historical" baggage which has been serving to undermine the ability of this industry to inure and grow [to the benefit of all its participants] and to provide effective solutions efficiently to us drivers, for the future.

As part of my New Year's Resolution and with the help of our fellow Speed Trap Hunter members, of which some of you may already be, I hope to improve this climate in whatever ways I/[we] can.

In the final analysis, we would all be the ultimate beneficiaries of such an outcome. (are you listening Washington?)

In my book, knowledge without understanding and perspective is of little value.

Sure, we can look at one thing and come away with many different opinions, that's what makes us collectively great, but we must all share this one essential opinion: each of us can be agreeably disagreeable to another.

With the right to freely express one's opinions, comes the moral obligation to use our sacred right responsibly and ethically.

Our mission, at Speed Trap Hunter, is to create and foster this unique and healthy dynamic.

Please consider joining us, and becoming a force for positive change or, at least, consider the overall tone of your messages on any forum (to which you are a member) before pressing the post button by asking yourself, how would you feel if you were on the receiving end of the message that you are about to post.

As it is Christmas (and especially since our collective society, of late, has a propensity for political correctness and moral relativism—where there is a lack of absolute moral clarity), please accept this humble Christmas gift (brief online video presentation).

Merry Christmas and have a safe an prosperous New Year!

And may GOD continue to bless us all.

Veil Guy

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Driver's Guide to Police Radar (Everything You Need to Know About Speed Enforcement)

If you want to protect your driving record, then this new book, Driver's Guide to Police Radar, is a must read!

In keeping with the Mission Statement of the Speed Trap Hunter forum, I would like to inform my fellow Speed Trap Hunters of a newly published book which has just become available to the general public in its first printing, Driver's Guide to Police Radar (Everything You Need to Know About Speed Enforcement), written by Craig Peterson and available to the public on his website and at Buy Radar Detectors.

Some of you may be already be familiar with Craig's site, which has been providing online guides and reviews (most for free) of automotive electronics, traffic enforcement, and automobiles for many years.

His connection to the traffic enforcement industry (both to a number of leading radar detector and countermeasure manufacturers as well as the manufacturers of traffic enforcement equipment and to a number of the traffic enforcement departments) has been long-established and spans several decades.

For the first time in history, we drivers can refer to one resource which details:
  • Historical account of police radar evolution as well as what's in store for us in the future
  • Advanced police radar features and how your driving record can be affected by their use
  • Common mistakes of police radar (often due to operator error)
  • Police LIDAR (commonly referred to as police laser) speed enforcement
  • Police radar in the city versus police radar on the highway
  • Time distance computers (including VASCAR, ENRADD, Aerial) and why radar detectors provide zero protection from this speed enforcement technology
  • Police radar (and laser) countermeasures and "jammers"
  • Original guide on how to properly choose a radar detector
  • Original guide to getting the most out of your radar detector
  • Exclusive field test report on various top-selling police radar guns
  • Exclusive and detailed specification guide to police radar and police laser models as well as a list of the most likely models we'll encounter on the road
There is no better single source of information available on this complex (and often mis-understood) subject in such a "bite-sized" and information-condensed package.

By reading Craig's definitive book, even a complete "lay" person, can quickly become an "informed" driver.

I have had the privilege of being one the very first individuals to have read his latest work and feel that anyone who is interested in really learning about the many aspects of traffic enforcement (so that you can be prepared for the potential "hazards" to your driving record) would be well advised to pick-up a copy.

The knowledge and clarity you gain from this publication will pay dividends for years to come and will likely spare you the pain and costs of future speeding tickets and will make you a better and safer driver.

It's fortuitous that Craig also happens to be a fellow Speed Trap Hunter forum member!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

This Christmas [Shopping] Season: Caveat Emptor

Now that we have entered the high-season for shopping for driving safety tools such as radar detectors, laser jammers, and related accessories, I think it is important to point out to the unsuspecting shopper looking to make a purchasing decision primarily on price alone that your purchasing decision which may save you a little on the front-end may cost you big-time on the back-end.

All of the leading radar detector manufacturers (which sell through retail channels) such as Beltronics, Escort, and Whistler have established MAP pricing and an authorized dealer program.

Purchasing a product online [below MAP] means that you are purchasing your products from unauthorized dealers who either may be selling "gray market products" or outright counterfeits.

Beltronics' and Escort's Official Statement:

Please be aware of the following risks if you purchase [Escort or Beltronics] products from an unauthorized reseller:
  • Possible exclusion of [Escort/Beltronics] warranty due to:
  • Purchase of stolen merchandise
  • Inability to validate the original purchase date and ownership with the original sales receipt AND the transfer of ownership with any subsequent bill of sale
  • Item shipped to you may be counterfeit, forged, or refurbished goods
  • Item may ship with serial numbers removed or modified
  • Item may appear new but contain internal water damage or damage from improper use
  • Item may never ship - contact with the seller may be difficult or impossible
  • Price may be inflated, incorrect, or changed after you place your order
  • Inferior product may be substituted for the advertised [Escort/Beltronics] product
The list is the same for both companies, but may not be complete: Unauthorized Dealer List

Whistler Group takes a similar position:

BUYER BEWARE! Please be aware of the following risks if you purchase Whistler products from an unauthorized reseller: Subject to exclusion of Whistler warranty due to:
  • Purchase of stolen merchandise
  • Inability to validate the original purchase date and ownership with the original sales receipt
  • Item shipped to you may be counterfeit, or refurbished goods
  • Item may ship with serial numbers removed
  • Item may appear new but contain damage from improper use
  • Price may be incorrect, or changed after you place your order
A partial list of unauthorized dealers is provided on their site, as well.

Unlike other consumer electronics, radar detectors and laser jammers are specialty niche products which require competent sales and service organizations to enable you as the consumer to make informed purchasing decisions.

Organizations which must resort to discounting and/or competing solely on price are likely the least adept at either (sales or service).

Furthermore since they are often "profit-through-sales-volume" driven, your interests are not likely high on their list of priorities. Oftentimes at such retailers/web-sites I see products for sale (to the unsuspecting consumer) which have demonstrated or been proven to be completely ineffective at meeting their stated/advertised claims (such as radar jammers/radar scramblers).

Sticking with authorized retailers ensures that you will have the most updated and fresh products.

Some retailers of "bulk" or "overstock" items likely have made bulk purchases that may be a year (or more)
old so that product that you may receive, while technically "new", is actually old/stale inventory that may be outdated and is not updateable from the manufacturer given the nature of your purchase.

In just a year's time Beltronics has updated their STi Driver with a "33.8" fix, Escort has updated their Passport 9500i with a "signal ramp" fix, and Whistler has provided a Rev C update to their Pro 78 and XTR 690 radar detectors.

Only the highest quality dealers would even be knowledgeable of such nuances which have a big impact on performance and your ultimate ownership experience.

Be wary of sites which link to such retailers as your interests are certainly not theirs.

At the end of the day, your driving record [or that of the recipient of your gift] is not worth the risk of "saving" a few bucks.

Of course you can purchase the products directly from some of these manufacturers which provide direct online sales (as does Valentine Research), but if you are considering enhancing your purchase with appropriate bundling or getting some independent and experienced advice from those who actually live with selling and using these products, there are two stand-outs of online dealers in the U.S. worth noting:
Each of these dealers gives something back to our industry, by providing quality purchasing guidance and support of products only demonstrated to work as advertised.

They have resisted the temptation to selling products which either don't work as advertised or are being sold in this country illegally or in violation of patents or trademarks, merely for making a quick profit (at your expense).

Their selling proposition is NOT price alone. On the contrary, unlike quick-buck artists, these guys are in it for the long haul.

Happy [and safe] shopping this Holiday Season.

Veil Guy

Saturday, December 01, 2007

A Must Read: Driver's Guide to Police Radar

Sometimes controversial, always entertaining

After many years of a book-publishing respite (and some coaxing from yours truly), Craig Peterson has finally written a follow-on to his first book (a cult-classic), Fast Driving (Without Tickets) , detailing his extensive knowledge of traffic enforcement technology and techniques and how to successfully mitigate them.

His latest book in his continuing series is entitled: Driver's Guide to Police Radar.

Although the title suggests otherwise, Craig's book provides an authoritative look at the operation of all the latest speed/traffic enforcement technology including police radar, police laser, and time-distance measuring devices along with the effective countermeasures—invaluable information not readily known to the driving public.

This book should provide accurate and detailed answers to most questions you've probably had about speed/traffic enforcement but were afraid to ask LEOs (and they would be reluctant to answer).

If it turns out to be anything like his first book, Driver's Guide to Police Radar is destined to become another instant classic.

This book is also available from

Veil Guy

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Safely Evading VASCAR, Electronic Timing Speed Enforcement

Earlier this evening I stumbled into a VASCAR/electronic timing speedtrap at a rate well in excess of the posted limit.

Fortunately I noticed an unmarked cruiser--sitting dark in an adjacent gas station--during the time that I was between the two painted timing strips on the road.

I immediately turned on my high-beams to change the illumination pattern of my headlights and was successful at preventing an accurate time-track of my vehicle while not having to abruptly slam my brakes (I was too far into the speed trap for braking to have likely made much of an impact on my average speed).

Contrary to what some may believe, VASCAR and other electronic timing methods can be and are easily made by tracking the trailing portion of one's headlights between two points on the road (which can be timing strips or arbitrary stationary objects).

If you ever find yourself in such a speed trap, think of this technique as it may just save you as it did me, today.

For those of you who celebrate this holiday, please have a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving and if you happen to be driving sometime in the coming days, remember they are out in force!

Veil Guy

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Another Reason Why I Prefer To Do My Serious Long Distance Driving With Two High-End Radar Detectors

As many of you already know, I recently drove in a transcontinental rally (race) from Orlando, Florida to Beverly Hills, California.

While Roy and I often rotated radar detector combinations, when traveling at hyper speeds, my personal preference was to use both the Valentine One and the Beltronics STi Driver.

It's been my experience that driving with both radar detectors provides you with the best of both worlds.

With the V1, you gets:
  • The very best laser detection available (in a windshield-mounted radar detector)
  • Ultra-high level of radar reception ability
  • Directional information of the source(s) of police radar/police laser
  • One of the very best signal ramps in the industry (for quickly determining the severity of the threat)

With the Bel STi Driver, you get:
  • Ultra-high level of radar reception ability
  • Display of actual transmitting frequency (particularly useful for rapidly identifying real Ka threats)
  • Auto-muting
With Both of Them in Operation, you get:
  • The best of both worlds
  • One other benefit (something that has now happened more than once) -- a check and balance system on radar reception.
And this time it was the Beltronics STi Driver which exhibited the reception issue (the last time it was the Valentine One, which turned out to be in need of a tuning).

During one of our radar encounters, the Valentine alerted to what appeared to be an approaching Ka source out in front somewhere. The entire duration of the radar encounter may have been in excess of 50 seconds. In not one of those seconds did the Bel STI Driver alert to the presence of Ka-band--remaining silent the entire time of the radar encounter.

Based upon the findings of a particular radar/laser enthusiast group, my conclusion was that the band in question was likely that of the less popular 33.8Ghz.

Had it not been for my updated/tuned Valentine, I would have not been alerted to its use.

I expect to send my Beltronics STi Driver in for a check-up/tune-up just as I did my V1 when it too missed a bona-fide radar encounter.

I know my handling and care for each radar detector could be better (I tend to leave them up on the windshield during the hot summer sun when I park).

For me, driving with two different high-end radar detectors (which have demonstrated to be compatible together) provides me an additional level of confidence while "seriously" driving for extended distances.

I expect to share more of my experiences of this cross country rally including some of the techniques I used to keep my ticket accumulation to an absolute minimum.

Veil Guy

Friday, October 26, 2007

Whistler Pro 78/ Whistler XTR-690 Updates Finalized

I am pleased to report today that the Whistler Group has finalized their enhancement updates to their venerable Pro-78 and XTR-690 top-of-the-line windshield-mount radar detectors and have generously decided to make these updates available at "cost" for existing Pro-78 and XTR-690 owners interested in having their detectors updated to the latest "REV C" firmware code.

To be clear, this update is entirely an elective one best suited for the "road-warrior" or "hard-core" radar detector user, as either of these radar detectors provide top-end performance in their current form.

Rev C provides the following enhancements:


Improved auto dimming function
Police laser voice alert sequence now in line with radar voice alert sequence
Added slight display hold to brief alerts to allow visual confirmation


With POP OFF, improvement, most notably, to radar reception of USA bands (33.8Ghz, 34.7Ghz, 35.5Ghz) and European bands (34.0Ghz, 34.3Ghz), Gatso, and the polarized radar sources of Multanova and RAMET.

According to the Whistler Group:

Rev C has been released for the Pro 78 and XTR 690 and developed for our
international customers that do not require POP and wish to take
advantage of some performance increases when in the POP OFF mode.

It is Whistler's strong suggestion to operate the unit in the POP ON mode
for the USA and as such, the software changes will make no performance
difference vs. the previous revisions when operated in the POP ON mode.

The changes are not essential to the USA market however we will offer
the Rev C to our USA consumers that desire it.

There will be a flat fee of $20 to upgrade to Rev C to cover the cost of
the upgrade, process, and handling.

USA customer units will be returned with the same [shipping] priority that they were received with the return shipping charges paid for by Whistler.

International customers will be returned via USPS (typical 2-3 week return delivery).

In order to have your unit returned to you quickly and to evenly distribute this process across two locations, Whistler asks that Rev A units be sent to the Massachusetts address and the Rev B units be sent to the Arkansas address.

The Rev can be checked by holding the city button then applying power to the unit.

Rev A Units Send To:

Whistler Product Development
168 Ayer Rd.
Littleton, MA. 01460

Rev B Units Send To:

Whistler Repair Center
551 North 13th Street
Rogers, AR 72756

Please be sure to include with your unit; your name, address, phone number, email address and a cashier's check, money order, or credit card information to cover the $20 fee.

I would personally like to thank the folks at Whistler for being as responsive and as dedicated to supporting their customers in the manner in which they have.

For a nominal and very reasonable fee (as compared to other manufacturers), we hard-core Whistler fans have the ability to extend the performance life of our Pro-78 and XTR-690 radar detectors without being forced to purchase an entirely new model.

Please join me in expressing your thanks to Whistler for providing the highest levels of customer support!

Veil Guy

Friday, September 28, 2007

Travel to the Fireball Run

After spending two nights with one of my cousins and her husband (Lin & Randy) at Charlotte, NC I set out to complete the final leg of my journey to Orlando, FL for the start of the Fire Ball Run trans-continental rally.

In the spirit of the original Cannonball Race(s) and the original Smokey and the Bandit movie, I planned to make some very good time, despite my unfortunate encounter with a PA State Trooper, yesterday. Today I would lose the cell phone and focus on the singular task of driving.

For this day, I chose to use the only two radar detectors that I believe are up to the task of (what I coined) Z-rated (149mph+) speeds--the Beltronics STi Driver and the Valentine One. Other countermeasures I used were Veil (of course) and my Blinder Xtreme two-head laser jammer system.

I donned my Bandit Cowboy Hat, popped in a Clint Black CD, and listened to the rhythms of CGB and Jerry Reed (aka "The Snowman").

Despite a morning rush-hour traffic (around Charlotte), one fuel stop, two 10-100 breaks, and seven instant-on Ka (five 35.5, two 34.7) police radar encounters, I managed to cover 423+ miles in a blistering 4.5 hours. My trip computer indicated my average speed for this portion of my trip was in excess of 89.8mph (inclusive of all stops).

I picked up a flogger (another Yankee from the Keystone state) on my tail and after repeated attempts to shake 'em (in excess of the century and a half mark) I resigned myself to stop trying.

So, I left Charlotte at 7.30 and arrived at Jacksonville, FL at a few ticks after 12.10. The remaining portion of my trip to Orlando was at a somewhat slower pace (do to heavier traffic and the occasional "snowbird" piloting their Caddy in the left-lane at a somewhat less than optimal speed). I arrived in Orlando at 14.05...ticket free. Mission accomplished: my arsenal of countermeasures served my interests, quite well, indeed.

Met up with Radar Roy and the Blinder Dude at the FBR pre-race party and met a bunch of very interesting fellow racers.

The race starts Saturday morning 9.00EDT.

The pace of the race should actually be slower than the pace it took me to arrive.

Veil Guy

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Takin' another one for the team

...And, once again, I only have myself to blame.

This time my tool of choice was the Beltronics STi Driver as I was heading to a certain Commonwealth which does not allow for radar detector usage. (It was off for that portion of the trip).

As seems to be the pattern when ever I get a speeding ticket, I was on my cell phone (talking to my friends at Buy Radar Detectors) when I got lit up.

Why didn't the STi Driver save me? Simple.

Because no radar was deployed! According to the PA state trooper, I walked right on by him (at 86mph in a 55mph zone).

His tool was a late-model blue unmarked Chevy Impala running VASCAR.

Not only didn't I "see" him, I didn't realize I was also in a construction zone at the time (there was no construction going on at the equipment or personnel).

He asked where I was going. I thought a moment and told him that I was traveling to Orlando Florida (didn't tell him why, though).

He asked what I did for a "living" and I told him that among other things I write reviews about radar detectors. This he thought was quite funny. (And so do I).

At any rate, to make a long story short, I appealed to his finer nature and asked for (and received) a citation of PA-3111A. This is a non-pointable offense and doesn't bring the potential for license suspension.

I gave him one of my Veil business cards and was able to go on my way, relatively unscathed, for my indiscrection.

Thank you Trooper "Chris" for being the consumate professional. You are a fine ambassador for the Pennsylvania State Troopers, are a class act, and you've got my respect. (Told ya I write about this experience.)

If I am fortunate enough that our paths one day cross again, I owe you a beer! (After hours, of course.)

Veil Guy

PS: Bloggin' this from Danny's and Frank's place at Rock Hill, SC.

PPS: Craig Peterson estimates that I will receive three additional tickets before this event is done and over with. For my money, I am betting on the "unders" on this one...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Semper Fidelis

Today marks the sixth anniversary of the attacks against the citizens of our fine nation.

On this special day I would like to express my thanks to our finest men and women of our Military forces and that of our allies who are putting their lives on the line every day to protect and ensure the freedom of our collective society and the administration for having the political fortitude to support them.

Thank you all for your faithful service and may God Bless you and your families for the sacrifices that you have made and continue to make for all humankind.

Semper Fidelis

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Red Light Cameras: Our [Lack of] Privacy Doesn't STOP There.

For those of you who regularly read my blog "rantings", you already know that my objection to automated red light cameras and photo speed cameras is on several fronts—most notably on unconstitutional due process grounds.

The erosion of our civil liberties can also be voluntary (in fact, it never ceases to amaze me how many citizens are willing to give up our hard fought [for] freedoms).

This just happened to me:

I received an unsolicited incoming phone call to our home early this Saturday morning (even though we are on DNC lists) from someone asking to speak to my wife (by using my wife's first name).

At first, it sounded as though she had known Lisa personally, so I continued the conversation only to find that when I informed the caller that my wife wasn't home at the moment, I was asked to identify myself. Without giving confirmation as to whom I was, the woman on the other end proceeded to tell me about some statistics of the Veteran's Association and proceeded to casually inform me that our conversation was being recorded!

Once I learned of this, I politely terminated the phone call (although I was thinking of a number of expletives that I won't write here). Looking at our caller-id history, I found that the number was blocked and not indicated (they were protecting their true identity/privacy!)

In a day where our fourth amendment rights are being eroded in the name of security (who's security, I am not so sure any more) I find the nature of today's phone call particularly disturbing.

While we have all been conditioned over the years to not give a second thought to the fact that most of our customer service related outbound calls we make to some company are automatically recorded (for "quality assurance purposes") this is the first such call I have ever received (that I am aware of) where the caller was recording the call (and without my consent).

More than thirty years ago I got a very brief "glimpse" of the potential technical capabilities of our National Security Agency (NSA) and it was "impressive," to say the least. If that was then, the possibilities today (with all of our new technology) must be beyond most individuals' imagination.

Relating back to my phone call this morning, would it be possible to have a "campaign" in which every household (or telephone number) in this country has a recorded voice profile which could be extrapolated (by computer) to build a complete online vocabulary profile which could then be compared against every monitored phone call—the end product being not only flagged phone calls but a probability score of the actual individuals who were involved in the conversation, automatically across millions of phone calls daily?

How's that for warrantless wiretapping surveillance efficiency? A little far fetched? Maybe. But the technology is certainly there.

While I generally support the efforts of the good men and women who are tasked with protecting our great country from future attack—an extremely daunting task, to be sure—I am cognizant of the ongoing integrity of our Constitution and our Bill of Rights, as well.

If, like me, you are alarmed and concerned about the general erosion of our rights to privacy whether by our government or private industry, the time is now to get involved and make your voice heard.

I know it takes time, but we each should know our local, state, federal representatives, their telephone numbers and mailing addresses. We each should take the time to express our respective concerns (in written form) about the current state of our civil liberties and pressure our elected representatives to take corrective action or be faced with eminent job removal (remember, we are coming into an election year).

This battle can only be won in numbers...

And, you can bet, I am going to find out who actually initiated this call.

Remember: sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.

Veil Guy

© 2008

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Automated Photo Enforcement: A Growing Cancer Undermining the Very Fabric of our Civil Liberties

UPDATED: 11 Aug 07, 0730

The more I research the ways and means of automated photo enforcement, the more I realize that these systems, the companies which provide them, the professional lobbyists which 'sell' them, the legislators which allow them, and the 'progressive' judges which re-affirm their 'legality' are each contributing to the erosion of the very principles on which our country was founded.

I think it is with great irony that the city which has historically been known as the 'cradle of liberty'—Philadelphia—is quietly undertaking the wide-spread deployment of these systems throughout the city.

Pennsylvania—known as the Keystone State—is already in the pipeline for the establishment of a state-wide deployment of these automated photo enforcement systems.

Given that states moniker does this suggest that as goes Pennsylvania, so goes the rest of the nation?

I for one, certainly hope not...not in this case.

An automotive journalist friend of mine recently observed that the U.S. has historically been the leading source of manned traffic control technology (i.e.; police radar, police laser) that is deployed throughout the U.S. and abroad.

If find it very telling that the majority of the most successful and experienced companies—some of whom are vying and actively lobbying—for U.S. city/state contracts of automated photo enforcement equipment and services—are foreign.

This is not a mere coincidence:

A number of these foreign or multi-national companies are accessing the sales/income potential of the U.S. market and already have established or are in the process of establishing U.S.-based subsidiary operations in anticipation of an explosive new growth market/demographic—the U.S. taxpayers.

Globalization certainly has its pluses and minuses and I believe, in this case, we are getting a first-hand taste of the societal effects that another country's products/services/societal philosophy can have (Thomas P.M. Barnett calls this content flow and Thomas Friedman addresses this dynamic in his books on globalization), since we [the U.S.] are not the leaders in nor the primary exporters of this technology.

It is an interesting and uncomfortable feeling being on the receiving-end of the societal disruption/perturbation (historically we've been the initiators), something that I believe we are going to have to get used to as time goes on as other countries become more industrialized and internationally-market focused.

And why haven't we been the international market leaders of these related technologies—technologies that have been in deployment around the world for quite some time, now?

I think the answer is pretty simple, really: Heavy-handed surveillance and monitoring [by the Government] wasn't in our country's unique birthing DNA.

In much of the E.U. there are no similar protections/inalienable rights afforded to its citizenry by way of a document similar to our Bill of Rights (read them), such as our 4th, 5th, and 6th amendments and the Freedom of Information Act (read it).

On the contrary, our country and its society were founded upon the very premise of defying oppressive/tyrannical laws and was intentionally established with a series of checks-and-balances to prevent tyranny— including (most importantly) the establishment of our 2nd amendment.

That's why these enforcement tactics have been slow to really take root in our [more enlightened] society and are doing so now, quietly and behind closed doors.

These other countries do not share our same history or societal perspective (many [of them] are rooted in a monarchy).

Even so, there may be a 'perfect storm' in the making. While automated photo/traffic enforcement initiatives have been taking place at the state and local levels, I believe there is [well-intended] tacit support [for this technology and its implementation] by the Federal Government—for the purposes of enhancing and aligning our global security rule-sets with our allies abroad—as a continuing evolution of the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) domestic surveillance initiatives.

While I certainly understand and support the need to enhance our national security at these difficult and challenging times in our nation's history, particularly in a post-9/11 world (where our individual liberties are already under pressure), we need to be especially vigilant towards what kind of society in which we [U.S. citizens] want to create for ourselves to live and at what costs.

It think it would be ironic if we allowed our society to become police-state-like even though we may have 'won' the Cold War—in the name of fighting a globar war on terror and ensuring our safety.

Certainly, photo or video surveillance has demonstrated that it can be an essential tool [to law enforcement and security officials] and I do feel they serve a legitimate purpose (especially at major points of public gathering), however, turning the 'machine' into the 'prosecutor' is clearly crossing the line. Get the picture?

Crafters of our emerging domestic security rule-sets would be well advised to read and understand the concepts of 'soft power' and the appeal of its supporting policies (as articulated clearly in our own global security rule-sets) which inure to the mutual benefit of our global partner nations.

Why should the U.S. taxpayers be afforded anything less in consideration by our own government?

It will serve as our basis of establishing and maintaining mutual trust and understanding.

Here's a notable excerpt from Ron Paul's weekly column (Texas Straight Talk):

"Freedom is not defined by safety. Freedom is defined by the ability of citizens to live without government interference."
Ron Paul, 09 AUG 04

I believe we need to strike a healthy balance between these two potentially conflicting ideals—freedom and safety.

We have arrived at a defining moment in our nation's young history—and our nation's Forefathers are watching [and so is the rest of the world].

In closing, consider this letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Madison entitled: A Little Rebellion Now and Then Is A Good Thing.

Perhaps one does not have to go as far as Jefferson was willing, as we have managed to keep our 1st amendment right to free-speech, press, peaceful assembly, and the ability to petition:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
I know we each have a lot of things on our respective plates, but please get involved as a voting citizen to protect the usurpation of our civil liberties, by these mostly foreign multi-national companies, in the name of corporate profit-taking (or implied security).

Let Freedom Ring

And, if you are connected with this nascent U.S. industry in any way: please do not sell-out our country's Founding Principles.

Money may not be at the root of all Evil, but [the love of] money, greed, and power certainly can make good company [to it].
Surely, there are more noble callings.
Veil Guy

Please Join the Call to Action:

  1. Petition to the Government for a Redress of Grievances:
    Stop Photo Enforcement Petition

  2. Consider Joining: National Motorists Association
Related Reading:
  1. Automated Red Light Speed Camera Photo Enforcement: For Safety or Profit?
  2. A Closer Look at Automated Enforcement: Red Light Cameras/Speed on Green Cameras/Radar-LIDAR Speed Cameras
  3. Machine Bears False Witness Against Me
Other Points of View:
Please express your support by linking to this article using the following url and anchor text: Automated Photo Enforcement: A Growing Cancer Undermining the Very Fabric of our Civil Liberties.

©2007 Veil Corporation. All rights reserved. No part may be duplicated without expressed written permission of the author.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Automated Red Light Cameras, Speed Camera Photo Enforcement: For Safety or Profit?

UPDATED: 09 AUG 07, 2342

During the course of my research of automated red light camera and speed camera photo enforcement technology, I felt compelled to ask myself this question: Is the adoption of these systems really about enhancing traffic safety or generating revenue [for the local/state governments which deploy them] and profits [for the companies which sponsor/operate them]?

While the overall picture is a bit sketchy—the parts of which are scattered throughout a variety of sources—certain aspects do appear to be taking form.

Below is a link to a video sales presentation to the City of Alexandria, LA by Redflex Traffic Systems:

Presentation by RedFlex Traffic Systems on the 'Benefits' of Automated Red Light Cameras /Speed Camera Photo Enforcement to Alexandria, LA at a Public Safety/Transporation Hearing

Charlie proffers that the only "proven" solution to reducing traffic accidents at red light intersections is automated photo enforcement—[at a] 'guaranteed' 50% reduction.

This is a factually incorrect and misleading statement. There are certainly other alternatives to reducing traffic accidents at intersections which include (but are not limited to) the appropriate re-timing of yellow-to-red phase transitions as well as red-to-green transitions to longer and more safe levels as well as the introduction of more sophisticated motion-sense type systems which can automatically adjust light-change phases based-upon real-time traffic conditions instead of mere static time programs.

RedFlex's stated position is about changing driving behavior and producing a lifetime surplus of revenue. Although it is stated that revenue creation is not the 'primary' purpose of the program, but simply the by-product, their corporate websites suggest otherwise.

RedFlex's mission statement includes the following:
Our mission is the deliver the most innovative, and comprehensive turnkey public safety programs that provide substantial benefits for our customers year-after year.

American Traffic Solutions mission statement includes the following:
Our mission is to deliver effective technology and services that reduce operating costs or generate revenue that pay for its use.

Conviction rates appear to be in excess of 99% and 40,000 citations issued per month in certain cities—that equates to $4M in monthly revenue or $50M annually!

Unfortunately, their conviction process encourages the ratting-out of your neighbor or family member, in the event you are falsely accused (instances where you were not actually driving the vehicle at the time of the alleged infraction); the KGB and the Gestapo, would be proud, indeed.

And currently, there is a movement afoot which is attempting to lower, even further, the evidentiary standards for the prosecution of these citations which can only serve to further increase these sales performance numbers (since the current conviction rate is already extremely high) and to lower the production costs of their 'products' (i.e.; citations).

In other words, due process is being directly and intentionally eroded in the name of profit-taking.

Additionally, these companies are positioning themselves for operating related/optional automated speed-enforcement technology at a projected (by their own estimates) increase in these revenue streams by 500%!!!

According to RedFlex's own Investor Briefing Guide [PDF], the top two market drivers are rooted in money [or the lack thereof]: Municipal Budget Deficits & Decreased Public Safety Funding.

RedFlex's presentation also includes a shock-and-awe video of a double-ejection (occupants apparently weren't wearing seat-belts) intersection T-bone accident with [partially] stated commentary that these systems will reduce such accidents.

It is interesting to note that the accident recorded by the RedFlex system was not prevented [by it], it was merely recorded, demonstrating that the implementation of such systems in no way directly reduce the likelihood of these sorts of accidents from actually occurring.

Furthermore, no supporting information was provided by the presenter which could provide the proper context or contributing factors to this accident other than the mere running of the red light.

Questions that were never asked [nor answered] about the driver at fault:
  • Was the person driving while intoxicated at the time of the accident?
  • Was the driver inattentive and/or distracted by something like the use of a cell phone?
  • Had the driver been speeding or driving recklessly before this accident occurred and for how long?
  • Had the driver been involved in any other criminal wrongdoing prior to the accident?

If any of the answers to these questions was in the affirmative, the potential for accident reduction by these systems would be diminished even further.

In fact, empirical evidence suggests that these automated photo-enforcement systems would have little, if any, positive impact on the reduction rates of these particular kinds of accidents—extremely late red-light-running by inattentive drivers (four or more seconds after an all-phase red-clearance period).

During a very brief question and answer session, a self-asked question was raised about yellow-light timing and the presenter's answer was that this system has nothing to do with yellow-lights and yellow-light [re]-timings.

This is an interesting and very telling non-answer. Why? Because if the name of the game is truly accident reduction, any system automated or otherwise must take into account any/all changes which could reduce accident rates; there exists studies which demonstrate that re-timing alone of red lights can go a very long way to reducing red light running and related vehicle collision rates.

If Alexandria's hearings are an indication of how these systems are being "vetted" [or not-vetted] throughout the U.S. there appears to be no real questioning of the consequences of these systems beyond the mere notion of how much revenue will be raised and who gets what and no real cross-examination or questioning of the "statistics" which are being provided by these companies to sell their services.

A new term I recently heard is "porpoising." The term describes an unhealthy dynamic created by these and related photo enforcement/speed camera systems called asymmetrical situational awareness.

In simple terms: some drivers will be aware of such systems, others will not be, while others will be hyper-sensitive to them.

For those drivers who are hyper-sensitive, they will be inclined to abruptly jam on the brakes while making an approach to an intersection or stretch of road monitored by these systems, which increases the likelihood of rear-end collisions to those either not aware of these systems or who are not hyper-sensitive to them.

Upon further reflection, I have realized that if, in fact, these systems have the capability to actually change driving behavior, that it may not be for the better. Why?

Because these systems actually encourage creating this porpoising effect at every intersection, monitored or not.

This is an especially egregious situation because all red lights are not consistently timed as their is no adherence to a uniform set of guidelines!

At these intersections where the yellow-light transition timings are too low, drivers who have been conditioned to the presence of these systems will develop a very dangerous automatic and subconscious response: any time a light transitions from yellow to red at the moment of an approach to an intersection, the impulse will be to abruptly slam on the brakes to avoid crossing the threshold of any intersection. In other words. the use of these automated photo-enforcement systems encourage the creation of hyper-sensitive drivers.

Unfortunately, statistics demonstrating the increase of rear-end collision rates, will tend to under-state the actual values as these reports only take into account the rate of increase at the monitored intersections themselves and not other intersections.

Is risking/creating an increase of this egregious behavioral-response—which greatly increases the propensity of these alternate types of accidents, at every intersection, worth the very small theoretical benefit of reducing accidents within the intersection itself by the utilization of such systems—especially when one considers that appropriate re-timing can accomplish substantially the same thing without incurring this added risk or increased financial burden to already overstretched taxpayers? (primarily due to the fiscal irresponsibility of excessive deficit spending of our federal government—which only serves to further undermine the value of our currency)

Other safer alternatives include better signage and more sophisticated MIRT-enabled motion-sense type red light control systems with real-time adaptive timing as well as real investment into our transportation infrastructure like improved highway design & safely maintained bridges and a long-term strategy for an improved high-speed railway system with a low carbon footprint which will alleviate the burden of too high vehicle traffic densities.

In their sales presentation, RedFlex spoke of the importance of a public outreach program to engage and inform the public about these systems.

While this sounds good at first blush, a friend of mine—who happens to be an automotive journalist—recently attended a state highway safety conference, which highlighted this technology, only to find that he was forcibly removed, intimidated, and threatened with incarceration for merely being in attendance or lawfully at a public venue!

So much for public outreach. Sounds more like cloak-and-dagger 'outreach' (ie; PR disinformation campaign) to me.

A website to process multi-state convictions is

After checking the WHOIS registration of the domain, I found that the domain registration was done by proxy, hiding the ultimate identity of the site's owner. Hmm, that's interesting, isn't it?

What do these guys have to hide? (Question asked rhetorically, of course.)

This issue is so complicated and robust, I am going to have to break my dissection of it across multiple posts.

At the very least, I hope I have gotten your attention about this impending social scourge. I certainly don't want this country to end-up like Britain or worse, like Singapore where their society's privacy has been surveilled into oblivion.

As you can see by reading their investor briefings, they have salespersons hired as professional lobbyists, are well financed, and becoming a political force actively working to defeat anti-photo legislative maneuvers.

Of course, there is bound to be corruption. There is always that potential when big money meets government (especially when professional lobbyists are used).

Let's do some quick math.

Since these presentations run fast-and-loose with numbers and statistics, let's do the same thing using their numbers.

Redflex has stated that in FY2006 there were 200,000 intersection accidents resulting in 179,000 injuries and 1000 fatalities and billions of dollars of 'economic impact.' Assuming that they are correct in their projections of a 50% reduction of red light running as a result of these systems, assuming that every intersection where accidents occur is monitored by such systems, and assuming that there is a 100% correlation between this reduction rate and the resultant accident rate, that leaves us with 100,000 intersection accidents, 89,500 injuries, and 500 fatalities annually.

Doing some simple number crunching using their revenue projections of their 2006 Investor Guide, they are projecting a market potential of roughly 15 billion dollars annually. And that is before we factor in the additional revenue stream potential created by the automated enforcement of owner vehicle registration of which these systems are also capable.

That economic impact translates to $30,000,000 per lived saved, $167,000 per injury averted, and $150,000 per accident avoided. Yes, you read that right. Furthermore, if these correlations don't hold-up (they won't) these figures will rapidly increase. (Imagine $100,000,000 per life saved!!!) [It's] ludicrous, isn't it?

Of course, we are completely discounting any potential of economic impact, collision rate, injury, and fatality resulting from rear-end collisions created by the porpoising-effect of asymmetrical situational awareness of these systems. But let's be generous to them, shall we?

Surely we can positively affect more lives with that kind of economic impact per life saved!

Consider the same economic-impact on these progressive ideas:
I can't help but think of an old Chinese proverb: 'Don't kill mosquito with cannon ball.'

In my opinion, what this all really boils down to is the creation of an inherently unconstitutional and incredibly inefficient
taxation system—given that the for-profit vendors, who provide these services, often get the lion-share of the citation revenue created as profit/income (up to 99% in some circumstances) leaving very little left over for the municipalities/cities which approve or 'legislate' their use and the states where they reside.

I believe the idea that these systems improve traffic safety should be consigned to the scrapheap of "ideas that looked better on paper or Power Point presentations than they are in real life."

If anyone conducted an even semi-serious analysis of these systems at these 'public outreach' or sales presentations—which masquerade as 'traffic safety hearings'I believe the proliferation of them would be STOPPED DEAD, in their tracks!

These automated systems are that bad and their companies' sales pitches are seriously misguided and disingenuous, and that's being kind.

I honestly don't know how these people sleep at night.

What our society needs is less progressive Governors, cities, and 'safety' campaigns and a more conservative or libertarian-style leadership and judiciary to effectively mitigate these and other traffic safety issues with real solutions.

The time to get involved is NOW!

Keep an eye on your local municipalities and attend any related hearings; provide them a link to this article; join the dialogue and get involved as voting citizens (especially of the state of Arizona where several of these companies are incubating); spread the word on the Internet (by linking to this article from other forums, blogs, or other social networking websites); and become part of a healthy movement to stop the adoption of these evil systems before they are everywhere!

Join & Become and Active Participant of the Online Automated Traffic/Photo Enforcement Discussion Forum: Speed Trap Hunter.

Please link to this article using the following url and anchor text:
Automated Red Light Speed Camera Photo Enforcement: For Safety or Profit?

Related Topics:

Veil Guy

©2007 Veil Corporation. All rights reserved. No part may be duplicated without expressed written permission of the author.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Hasta Siempre, my Friend

...We shall be reunited in Time.

As of 1100 this day, our steady and faithful companion, Jake of 13 years, made His life transition—in a dignified manner—as part of our protracted and hard fought battle against the will of Canine Lymphoma with his family (my wife, Lisa and I) by his side.

At this time, we would like to express our heartfelt thanks to our loving family members, dear friends (including Al, Craig, Leon, Lorlei, and Steve) and to the heroic oncology staff of Ann Jeglum, DVM (Veterinary Oncology Service) of West Chester, PA—who supported us through these most difficult and trying times.

Your support shall never be forgotten.

Bob & Lisa

Ps. True Love is not about holding tight, but letting go...

Machine Bears False Witness Against Me

Upon my return home this evening from the office, I was greeted by a letter—from the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission—accusing me of failing to pay a toll based upon the "testimony" of a computerized system (sound familiar?).

It so happens that I have been an EZ-PASS customer in good standing since the inception of the system, in PA, and so obviously there is a glitch or bug.

And while this inaccurate account of events by a machine should be easily corrected by a mere phone call, I do believe the timing of the delivery of an automated accusation is very fortuitous as it ties directly back to recent concerns I expressed about the rapid expansion growth potential of related automated red light camera systems in this country.

Are machines actually capable of lying?

What would the HAL-9000 'think'?

Or are machines merely capable of error.

In a court of law how will the distinctions be made when someone's being charged with a "crime"? Would that someone be afforded the right to cross examine the witness? How can one cross examine a machine or computerized system for a truthful and accurate account?

A machine is not cognizant and can not affirm the principles of the Ninth Commandment [and I am afraid a good number of citizens of this country are following suit*] nor is it subject to the same standards of swearing under-oath [to GOD], as men must do prior to giving testimony.

Is this the necessary and unfortunate by-product of a society well on the road to pure secularism? Where is the humanity in that?

Sooner or later our collective societies are going to have to address these questions.

In this instance, I believe, we can not afford to have a machine do the job of man.

For now, I am just going to scratch my head and make a phone call...

Veil Guy.

*Note: It is my personal belief that the 10 Commandments are not the inspiration of humanity to serve god, but an Inspiration by GOD to serve humanity—as a foundation for creating and maintaining civil societies.