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Technology is supposed to get things done faster, but sometimes it flubs the job. It can make tasks easier, but our reliance on it means any glitches can be a serious problem.
Most people have had moments when their computer accidentally deletes a file, or when Siri has no idea what they’re asking. But have you gotten a traffic ticket that wasn’t for you—or even for a car?
According to The Drive, a couple in England were shocked when they received a ticket saying their car had been caught driving in a bus lane in Bath, 120 miles away.
Traffic cameras aren’t perfect
The couple in question, David and Paula Knight, found out about this funny discrepancy when they got their ticket in the mail. They were quite confused, as both of them had been in Surrey when the ticket was dated, until they saw the picture attached to the letter.
It wasn’t a picture of a car, but a woman who had been walking in the bus lane, wearing a shirt that had caught the camera’s attention. The shirt had the word “KNITTER” printed on the front in large black letters, remarkably similar to the font used on British license plates. With the strap of her bag obscuring the first “T”, the camera picked up “KN19 TER,” which is David’s license plate number.
The number is a reference to David Knight himself, as his friends call him “Knighter.” The woman in the photo is still unknown, but once the Knights got the $124 fine cleared, they had a good laugh about the situation.
Why do we use cameras to monitor traffic?
Using photos to monitor traffic is an old idea dating back over a century, but actual traffic cameras weren’t introduced until the 1960s. At first, film was used to capture traffic violations, then digital cameras took over in the ‘90s.
Today, a mixture of photos, radar, and videos are used to do everything from monitoring traffic to reading license plate numbers and tracking cars.
When the cameras pick up someone speeding, running a red light, or even driving in a bus lane, they can send the information off and issue the offender an automated ticket. The culprit’s information is found using their license plate number, allowing the computer system to assign the ticket and send it off to the right person—usually.
How do I avoid getting charged for something like this?
Though accidental charges like this are rare, it’s a good idea to verify the validity of any ticket you get issued. If a traffic camera charges you for an infraction, the ticket should come with a photo of the incident.
If you check this picture and see that it isn’t you, call your state’s department of transportation or file a complaint online. The website and phone number for the organization that issued the ticket should also be listed on it, but if it’s not, try looking up the organization yourself.
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