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No launch date for laser photo: police

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Provincial regulations introduced before Christmas give police a new way to catch speeders by camera — not photo radar, but photo laser.

How soon police deploy the new laser system — it’s like a traditional laser gun, but takes a photo — is still undecided.

However, police said it will not be used on a trailer, like speed reader boards used at road construction sites or in school zones to get drivers to slow down, as the regulations also allow. 

"That’s not something we’re not contemplating on using," Staff Sgt. Rob Riffel of the police traffic unit said Monday. "It’s just an option with the new system."

Through the regulations, the province has given its blessing to police to start using DragonCam photo-laser speed guns as long as they're mounted to a vehicle.

DragonCam uses LIDAR — light detection and ranging — to measure the distance to an object being sighted, such as a speeding vehicle, by sending out a laser beam to calculate its speed.

Rather than the swath-like beam of radar, LIDAR pinpoints its target up to about 600 metres away. Not only can police tag someone speeding with DragonCam, they can snap a high-definition photo or even take a video.

Traffic enforcement activist Todd Dube of WiseUp Winnipeg said with the new laser system, police can put behind them criticism raised by WiseUp on the short-comings of photo radar, specifically how it is used on Grant Avenue near Nathaniel Street. WiseUp argues the radar unit’s beam is reflected by metal poles and produces false speed readings.

"With the laser they can leave behind all the valid arguments we’ve properly raised," Dube said Monday in an email, adding WiseUp plans a second court challenge to the Grant and Nathaniel unit in March.

WiseUp abandoned its first challenge last September

Police have always had the ability to use photo radar on trailers.

In 2001, before photo enforcement was fully rolled out, police said they hoped to use a speed trailer, a photo radar-equipped trailer set up at construction areas. The trailer functioned as a warning sign that measured the speed of oncoming vehicles and posted it on a reader board. That gave the driver a chance to slow down. A second camera then measured the speed of the vehicle as it passed by. If it was still speeding, a ticket was sent to the owner of the vehicle.

Police only used the speed trailer sporadically.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Monday, December 31, 2012 at 2:41 PM CST: Adds photo

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