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Ban on GPS speed camera alerts

Speedo Minder Pro app by Steve Grealy

Germany is banning fixed speed camera alerts provided on most GPS units and many mobile phone apps in a worrying trend that could be replicated in other countries.

In most Australian states, fixed speed cameras are sign posted, but safety nannies are always looking for new ways to clamp down on speeding and could start pushing for this German ban.

However, this ban will not just catch habitual speedsters, but also affect those who inadvertently drift over the speed limit.

Safety alerts

And instead of motorists watching the traffic and relying on alerts to tell them of a fixed speed camera, it will lead to them monitoring their speedos and looking at the side off the road for cameras.

We are not sure how Germany expects to enforce their €75 (about $A125) fine as it would require police to pull over motorists to check their satnav devices and phone apps.

In some jurisdictions, that would require a search warrant.

Garmin and TomTom satnav companies have emailed their registered users to advise them of the law change in Germany.

TomTom says on their website that the feature can simply be deactivated while in Germany.

It also notes that all speed camera warning systems are illegal in Turkey, Switzerland, Cyprus and Macedonia where the service is disabled.

autobahns autobahn

It seems strange in a country that has some roads with unlimited speeds and many autobahns with very high posted speeds.

However, if you have ever ridden in the country you will know that the speed limits are enforced and local motorists comply.

On one occasion, I saw an overhead electric sign suddenly flash a warning of a coming storm and reduced the 130km/h speed limit to 80km/h. Immediately the traffic around me slammed on the brakes and settled at 80km/h.

Germany uses a lot of fixed speed cameras in tunnels and around the entries and exits of villages and have already banned the use of speed camera and radar detection systems as in Australia, except Western Australia.

However, WA Police Minister Michelle Roberts has added a section to the Impaired Driving and Penalties Bill that allows police to ban any “device” they deem fit.

Those devices could include helmet cameras, intercoms, radar detectors (legal only in WA), dashcams and even phones being used for sat nav or music.

Rather than police applying the law, it would make them creators of the law in a dangerous precedent for other states

  1. Who is the greater danger,
    Someone with their eyes on the road paying full attention to their surroundings and anything that may jump out or,
    Someone doing a speed limit that may or may not be appropriate with their eyes constantly checking the speedometer being irritated and distracted by other drivers either slowing too much or hitting the brakes because they drifted over the limit and no one paying full attention for the things they’re supposed to be slowing down for?

    1. Keeping your eyes on the speedo and not paying attention to your surroundings is the tried and tested Australian way. Paying attention to your surroundings and other users is not required here.

      Our ‘Safety” (hahaha) cameras take out the need for our wonderful Traffic Police to exercise any discretion at all which they would have to do if they had to prosecute Dangerous Driving or Driving with out Due Care (or similar). Always remember the most successful Safety Camera is the one with no fines, ie it is causing Drivers to slow down in a so called ‘dangerous’ part of the road.

      Ive also been lucky enough to ride on the AutoBahns and Peage (in France, fast but not unlimited) and am always impressed how carefully the other road users drive, very strict lane discipline indicating etc etc, also in UK, Spain and Italy. Far better than our local Motorways and Highways.

      1. Agree & likewise I’ve ridden in France & Germany.
        Interestingly – in Germany there seems to be a bit more common sense & respect.

        It’s funny how Germany is know for its rules – yet in most cases – they make sense.

        The autobahn where speed can be unlimited, police still have authority to fine people when safety is a concern.

        This also involves pulling people over in the fast lane when they are restricting traffic along with pulling someone over for travelling too fast when the conditions are not safe to do so.

        I’m all for that and who wouldn’t be?!

        As a result, people tend to travel at the speed they are comfortable with & the speed their vehicle is safely capable of. ..and cars are generally well maintained in Germany.

        I did a stint of work in Franfurt a while back & after jumping in a taxi from the airport I was surprised the driver quickly attained 170kph. Only then I realised we were on the autobahn – and quickly made sure my seatbelt was properly buckled.

        For the taxi driver, just another days work.

        I also had a workmate who lived an hour from his office & had a company car, an Audi A4. He told me each and practically every day he would drive on to the autobahn, literally put his foot down till his car topped out at 220kph for an hour.

        His exact words to me were, “if my car was able to drive faster, I’d be comfortable with 250kph each day” …

        1. Pulling people over for driving when not safe or restricting traffic would mean our Police would have to exercise discretion. Something they aren’t good at. All they can do is look at a radar and read a number off it and issue a fine if it’s over the limit.

          While putting a safety belt on is a good idea I doubt it would make much difference in a 170km/h accident!

  2. Germany remains the only time and place in the world where I have actually riden 100 miles in an hour. – Munich to Berlin autobahn. We were not trying, but just got carried along by the traffic speed which was around a steady safe easy 170kmh. The lane discipline there is something we can only dream about.

  3. If ever we need reminding of the effect that observing strict limits has on our ability to ride safely, there is a place where this is made very obvious;

    It is the point where you cross from SA in to the Northern Territory. The effect is amazing. As you cross the border nothing changes at all except for the limit signs that go from 110 to 130. Instantly, you relax and become much more aware of the surroundings. Its a psychological event, but very very real.
    It has nothing to do with speeding per se, it is purely removal of a ‘hazard’ that was occupying far too much of your mind, – even if you have not been speeding. Much more than you realise until its not there.
    Even if you stay at the limit all day, you are constantly worrying that if you don’t check your speedo every few seconds, you might stray over enough to be booked. It is very tiring.
    If you doubt this or think its rubbish, wait until you try it.

  4. Almost every year Victoria has the most road accidents and fatalities. I believe this is because they do not accept any tolerance with speed limits and people can and are fined for being 1kph over the limit, so people watch their speedos more than the road. The Australian Design Rules allow for a 10% error margin on speedos so I don’t know how Victoria has got away with this for so long. Maybe a law firm needs to go into battle for drivers and riders.

    1. I agreed it’s a real concern which should be researched locally – I believe studies overseas have already concluded the danger for taking your eyes off your speedo for split seconds – and the danger it poses.

      I must admit if I focused more on my speedo rather than the road – I would be dead 100x over.

      Common sense ‘should’ prevail.

      I also think non motorcyclist police officers don’t understand what riders have to work with – and the weight of their decisions should be reflected on any outcome.

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