A funny thing happened on the way to
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"
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.