Lasers fox speed cops
By Thabiso Thakali
JOHANNESBURG – Speed-mad motorists are beating the traffic cops with hi-tech laser jammers that render speed traps useless.
Traffic departments pay more than R700 000 for a single laser speed-trap unit – but a simple device costing R3 500 beats the traffic police, one of the manufacturers of the device boasted in a radio interview yesterday.
The device – similar ones are in widespread use in countries such as the US – transmits a laser signal that scrambles the speed reading ability of even the most sophisticated speed trap.
Traffic officials are angry about the laser jammers but told The Citizen that they would not take them lying down.
Johannesburg Metro police spokesman chief superintendent Wayne Minnaar said there were several devices on the market that warned motorists of speed cameras and speed traps ahead.
Minnaar said the devices, referred to as radar detectors, were allowed, because they promoted road safety.
“But the so-called laser jammers hamper the operation of our speed beams, which are placed on the roads to activate cameras when a motorist is driving faster than the legal speed.”
He warned that motorists found with jamming devices in their cars would be arrested and charged with obstructing or defeating the ends of justice.
“We are not against speed-trap detectors but we will not allow motorists to use devices that cause our own machines to malfunction.
“Such devices are in direct obstruction of the metro police’s duties,” Minnaar said.
The chairman of the Metro committee on road safety, Ian Auret, said he, too, did not see anything wrong with the use of speed-trap detectors because they would help motorists to keep their eyes on the roads and not on their speedometers.
“I believe they are important instruments that will warn motorists when there is a speed trap ahead – as do the road signs we put up.”
Wits law expert professor Steve Tuson used the analogy of tax evasion and tax avoidance through structuring one’s affairs to minimise tax.
The use of the laser jammer was like tax evasion and could amount to breaking the law.
“Clearly, if you are speeding you are breaking the law and if a person is evading speed ticketing through using this device it could amount to obstruction of justice.”