High-tech on the open road - different ways that regulatory organizations use technology to help keep to the roads safer ... for all of us

by Jason SalasTuesday, July 10, 2001


A funny thing happened on the way to work....
Anyone who says that the Guam Police Department's "Operation Blue Fire" mission doesn't work is crazy, or just hasn't got caught...yet. I can attest first-hand that Guam’s finest are far and away doing their best job in cracking down on vehicular offenders and making the streets safer for all of us. Now I’m normally a good law-abiding citizen, but everyone makes mistakes sometimes and I was pulled over recently for speeding on my way to work. (I won't deny it, it did the crime...I got busted doing 51MPH in a 35MPH zone, so I got what I deserved).

Upon being tagged with a speedtrap device based on a high-powered laser gun which is reportedly worth well worth over $4,000, I was given the normal procedure of being told how fast I was going and how many MPH over the speed limit my rate of acceleration resulted in. I was also given the option to dispute the charge. Turning down the opportunity, but being ever the techie, I concurred with the officer that I was speeding and that I would pay for the ticket, but asked for a simple request: a printout documenting how fast I was going at the time.

I explained to the officer that being a “systems dude” it's normally my practice to have copies of all transactions, and that while I wasn't going to dispute that I was speeding, I thought that it was illogical for me to pay for a ticket based on what essentially was one man's verbal estimation of how fast I was going. Had I been a less scrupulous individual I might have tried lying and challenge the officer in traffic court, hiding behind the "Your Word vs. Mine" defense.

So, on behalf of all disgruntled motorists on the island I spoke to GPD's Highway Division who said that while officers do not carry equipment with them out into the field which would allow for printing, each of us do as citizens do have the right to request for documentation of some sort, citing the speed at the time note.

Sergeant R.C. Manibusan told me that admittedly there are a few people who dispute their claims in the absence of a formal, tangible citation. However, there is a mechanism in place which validates the accuracy of the laser at the time of use by GPD. Additionally, the officers administering the speedtrap laser system all go through extensive training and must be certified by the device's manufacturer prior to using it out in the field. Manibusan added that the public should rest easy in the use and accuracy of their system, and in the fact that the Guam Police is always striving to utilize the latest advances in law enforcement technology for its operations.


Advanced technology makes traffic management easier for major metropolitan cities
In the U.S. mainland in Europe and as far east as Japan, traffic management conducted through advanced technology is making it easier for law enforcement authorities to keep the peace on hazardous highways. Using technology such as wireless systems in combination with global positioning systems (or GPS) countries are being able to more effectively control traffic patterns.

Major world economies have been using detectors and sensors installed into the highways themselves for awhile, feeding information wirelessly to drivers via on-board computer terminals installed in automobiles. These systems pre-warn drivers of large traffic jams, accidents, upcoming tollbooths, and other concerns for the modern motorist.

For instance, in Japan a program called the "Vehicle Information and Communication System” feeds data through microwaves to cars in an embedded mapping system, which can project a course outline way before the driver is even near the area. And in the United Kingdom, a system known as "Trafficmaster" sends motorists information detailing any traffic congestion and the approximate delay times on major highways. A cool example of automation which speeds up tollbooth payment is used in Singapore, where sensors located throughout roadways detect electronic signals transmitted by cars which deduct the precise amount for payment of toll charges.

And let us not forget the United States where the boom of mobile communications technology allows drivers to receive everything from directions, to restaurant guides, to real-time traffic reports through mobile phones, palm pilots and notebook PCs. In fact, most taxicab companies in major metropolitan cities in the U.S. Now use GPS receivers to deliver faster pickup services and track the precise location of all drivers.

So...what does this mean for local drivers? Well, let's put it into perspective. While it's true that in most technological areas Guam is admittedly a couple of steps behind, look at it this way: at least we don't have to lug all that machinery around just to get by.

Hey, don't get me wrong, I'm about as big an advocate of high-tech systems integration as you're going to find, but I still enjoy the peace and quiet of being able to drive without taking $20,000 worth of equipment with me everytime I just want to head down to Paseo.

So the next time you're driving through Guam's two modern highway systems - the new Route 16 overpass, and the “off-ramp” in Maite just past Club Cosmos (admit it...you know the one), just appreciate how much our island does have, and what's on the horizon for the very near future.

I explained to the officer that being a “systems dude” it's normally my practice to have copies of all transactions, and that while I wasn't going to dispute that I was speeding, I thought that it was illogical for me to pay for a ticket based on what essentially was one man's verbal estimation of how fast I was going.
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