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NSW Police are not experts at estimating speed

Discussion in 'Politics, Laws, Government & Insurance' at netrider.net.au started by waedwe, Feb 23, 2015.

  1. http://www.9news.com.au/national/20...peed-dismissed-as-rubbish#duqVfCUjB0ZJW7Qi.99

    "A consultant who claims to have helped hundreds of Australian motorists overturn speeding fine in court says police claims that they can estimate the speed of moving vehicles with the naked eye are "rubbish".

    After footage of a truck driver being booked for speeding solely on the basis of a NSW highway patrol officer's estimate was viewed more than 1.2 million times since Saturday questions have been raised about the officer's methods and the chance of the fine being reversed in court.

    The video shot by truck driver Chris Smith in the western NSW town of Coonabarabran shows the bewildered transport worker challenging an officer's assertion that he was speeding.

    In the video the senior constable tells the truck driver that he estimated his speed and did not use a radar.

    "I'm an expert at estimating speed," the officer says.

    Scott Cooper of Speeding Fine Consultants says he has beaten all radar speed detection devices currently in police service in court and he believes the officer's claims are "rubbish".

    "What this cop has done is booked someone on guesswork," Mr Cooper told ninemsn.

    "If a cop is booking someone on an estimate and he has the availability of technology like a radar gun then it's just stupid."

    "Why would you just estimate cause it's a guess?"

    A NSW Police spokesman said "All highway patrol operatives are considered subject matter experts in the eyes of the court in terms of estimating speed."

    "This is included as a part of the training received by potential highway patrol officers. Any LIDAR or radar check that is done has to be reinforced with a valid speed estimation.

    When pressed for further details about the training the reply was "Training encompasses various forms of speed measurement and estimation."

    However, Mr Cooper said he has advised
    hundreds of people issued speeding fines based solely on officers' estimates and has had the fines overturned most of the time.

    The speeding fine consultant argues that no such training exists.

    "There is no school on estimating the speed of moving vehicles with the naked eye. They (police) can't do it and they have never been able to," Mr Cooper said.

    "If a police officer goes to training than he should have some identification that he has attended a course…. If they have attended a course we ask them for some paperwork to see what kind of accuracy they achieve.”

    He claims that police have never been able to provide such answers and this line of questioning has helped his clients have speeding fines overturned by magistrates/"
  2. I know it is one man who has a stake in this claiming it, But I would love some sort of independent test.
    Something where a policeman claiming to be a expert in court has to prove his ability, not just have his word taken as gospel.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  3. I heard of a case where the Magistrate took the copper out to the road and asked him to estimate speeds of cars whilst another used a radar. The estimating cop was pretty damned accurate, to the point where the Magistrate was satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt that his estimate was accurate.

    Don't know which state...

    Don't actually know if this is even true....
  4. I highly doubt that is true. Besides, the speed limit outside a court is probably only 40km/h. Anyone can judge that speed.

    The real question here is, when is the speed being estimated? On approach from dead ahead? Or as the vehicle passes by?
  5. I know of a case where the policeman is in court and the solicitor asks the copper if he is good at determining speed and the copper says he is, so the solicitor reaches into his pocket and flicks a coin across the table and asks the cop to tell everyone the speed ,whoch of course he can't and the case is thrown out of court.
  6. I read this story and watched the video the other day. The accused "speeder" claims that his truck gps logging confirms he was not speeding at any point. It will be very interesting to see if the judge trust a gps logged measurement of speed or a cops guess as to the speed he was travelling. Also he was issued a ticket for excess of 10km/h over the limit, if his gps logger is accurate the cop has some seriously sub par "expert speed estimating" skills.

    But the most important question is, can a police officer standing on the side of the road actually fine you for his guesstimate of you speed? I would like to see the law that says without an accurate speed measuring device reading an officer can hand out a fine anyway.
  7. #7 iClint, Feb 24, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2015
    I think as long as we have a system where a person is accused of an offence and you are accepting guilt by paying the fine, but in order to prove your innocence you have to wear a cost often several times more than the ticket, there needs to be some firmer proof of the offence than just an estimate.
    • Agree Agree x 5
  8. Makes sense to me.

    But I'm not a politician.
  9. I do a lot of repetitive measurements in my line of work. I tend to guess before measuring a bit and you do get really good at estimating things. Speed would not be that hard. But here's the crux of it. Occasionally I get it really wrong. The ruler and scales don't unless there's user error. I would be happy to concede cops would be experts at estimating speed but they would get it wrong a fair bit. And that should not be good enough evidence to go on. It is though and these things have gone in favor of the police in court but it shouldn't.
    • Like Like x 1
  10. Putting aside my personal views. This article seems to miss a lot of facts. Mr Cooper reads to me as just wanting to splash his name around. In NSW speed estimates can be used. It's a fact. All HWP officers take a course. They are considered experts by the court. Whilst the possibility exists this officers training is not current. No one knows this.

    I can't point to an example of speeding. However in NSW I have seen people charged and convicted for drink driving where no measurement for alcohol was conducted. Instead of charging under the PCA offences they are charged under the following legislation.

    12(1) of the Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Act 1999 (NSW) as our legislative example, a person must not while under the influence of either alcohol or drugs:

    drive a vehicle; or
    occupy the driving seat of a vehicle and attempt to put the vehicle in motion; or
    a person who is holding a licence (that is not either a P-plate or L-plate driver), occupy a seat in or on a motor vehicle next to a person who is the holder of a learner licence.

    In this instance police are able to give evidence the accused person was intoxicated based on their experience of seeing previously intoxicated people in their profession.
    • Informative Informative x 1
  11. The problem i see with that though is it is much easier to look at a static object and say yeah thats about X long.

    When looking at a vehicle travel towards you and estimating its speed you are estimating several things all at once.

    Speed = Distance / time

    so the officer has to pick two points in space probably considerably far away estimate the distance between them then measure or GUESS the time taken to travel between the two points.... 1 Mississippi 2 Mississippi 3 Mississippi not a really accurate time measurement especially when using averaging over a short distance.

    Then you have the issue of parallax which is massively increased over distance. add in a hot day and you have refraction. then add in things like the difference sizes of vehicles and illusions that this can play.

    after all these factors that make it extremely difficult to estimate a vehicles speed, its probably very easy to estimate the speed of a vehicle traveling much faster than the speed limit, but estimating the speed of a vehicle that is traveling only a few km's over the limit using this method with any accuracy is ridiculous.

    I'd say the only training cops receive in relation to validating the RADAR with an estimation is when they hear BEEP-BEEEP-BEEEP- waking from there nap looking up and discerning which vehicle from a group is the one the RADAR detected speeding. which is as difficult as looking for the vehicle passing all the other vehicles.
    • Like Like x 1
  12. I did notice the office got agro at one point in the recording, and pushed the trucker. Was this his frustration at knowing that this ticket would not stand or the fact the guy was recording everything?
  13. At the bottom of the ticket there is a section that you do not get to see where the copper writes his version of events. my bet is the cop was fudging a few things and got shitty when the guy got a little close and could perhaps read what he was writing.

    this part of the ticket only comes out in court and is use to discredit any version of events you tell the magistrate.

    I also wonder whether had a camera not been involved would the ticket have been much worse... was the less the 10km over tick written in the hope the guy wouldn't bother going to court over ~$80
    • Like Like x 1
  14. What was the estimated speed? On what speed limit road?

    If it's the copper's usual beat then he would have a very attuned eye to what 100km/h oncoming traffic looks like - but it's still prone to error. If the driver has GPS tracking, the officer's case is cooked.
  15. Didn't UDLOSE have a similar experience? He ended up beating it in court but it took a fair bit of time and money. I remember that it was determined that HWP are able to estimate speed and issue tickets on estimates. However, the solicitor had to find evidence to discredit the officers assumptions to have the infringement overturned.
  16. Not completely certain of this but I have heard of stories where GPS data has either been ignored or not accepted as proof of innocence in court. Not sure why though. Maybe because there's no calibration data or easily manipulable? Who knows?
  17. I'd so the cops estimate velocity to a reference point of velocity.

    I.e, they know what a vehicle doing 60 or 80 looks like and the aren't calculating time or distance.

    To get technical, distance is actually based on time and speed. A meter is the distance light (or some subatomic particle that travels at the speed of light) travels in a vacuum in 1 something something of a second. There is a master meter stick in Paris that all meters were based on. But that's too risky so they've gone to the light travel method for the reference point for all rulers.

    On estimation, weight by sight which I do a lot is a hell of a lot more difficult to estimate than speed. To try and guess the weight of a fish, you would be guessing the fish are neutrally buoyant so roughly the same as water and so you have to work out it's volume, which is a lot harder to calculate than I can accomplish in my head. Even if I had a ruler and calculator I would still struggle. I estimate fish weight as I have a reference point of seeing enough fish and their weights to know what they look like and I'm assuming that's how cops do speed.

    I doubt cops have either the precision or accuracy to get it right enough to leave no doubt though.
  18. I've watched some fishing shows where the anglers are screaming the weight of the fish before they have even pulled it out of the water.

    A lot of drivers can't gauge how fast a motorcycle is traveling towards them.

    I don't think a cop would be any better, he might be able to tell the difference between normal and traveling way to fast but I don't think any human eye could detect speed with anywhere near enough accuracy to be issuing tickets that can have both short and longterm financial impact on an individual.

    in this case we are not talking about a situation where the guy lost his license and was in court on dangerous driving charges because the cop estimated his speed to be at least double the posted limit. its a case of a cop claiming he can estimate speeds to with in 10km/h of the limit and giving no explanation of how he was able to achieve this estimated guess.

    Smileedude if your boss said how did you guess that fishes weight you'd give an explanation about volume and weight of water. you wouldn't shrug your shoulders and say I'm an expert, you would show how you reached your finding.
  19. #19 smileedude, Feb 24, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2015
    Ask a non fisherman to estimate a weight of a fish and their estimate would not be in the ballpark. Just as if you or I sat on the road and tried to estimate speed.

    I wouldn't say a cop would be awful at estimating speed. I would say they would get it right, give or take 10 most of the time. But I wouldn't say most of the time is remotely good enough to be admissible evidence.

    If you take the line that they are rubbish and it is impossible to estimate speed accurately it's not hard to be proven wrong.
  20. Some excellent points have been raised, I personally think however that in this case the truckie was legitimately innocent. He was dead certain at the time of filming that he wasnt speeding, he then later re affirms his position online by adding that his gps logger in his truck shows he never exceeded the speed limit.
    Does anybody know of any cases where gps tracking has been deemed an accurate device for measuring speed? preferrably in relation to a traffic infringement?