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Judge refuses to prosecute speeders

The Local · 11 Nov 2010, 10:50

Published: 11 Nov 2010 10:50 GMT+01:00

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Helmut Knöner, whose court is in the town of Herford, has let off 42 drivers who appeared in his courtroom over the past week on speeding-related matters. He said it is just the beginning of the wave of acquittals because he will not impose penalties on those caught by speed traps until German lawmakers take another look at how, why and where they are used.

“Are (radar cameras) about increasing road safety or something else all together,” the 62-year-old judge told the magazine Stern. “The question is whether these radar devices are primarily a way (for municipalities) to secure jobs and earn money.”

He said penalties imposed on those caught on speed control cameras amount to several hundred million euros every year.

Knöner, who has been handing down verdicts for 30 years, said that to ensure towns are using speed traps to make roads safer instead of just squeezing drivers out of some cash, lawmakers need to come up with clear rules about the placement of radar devices. He also criticised the legal foundation for taking photos or videos of speeders, saying it is based on anti-terrorism legislation, which he finds unjustifiable.

But it is not clear whether those addicted to speed who have benefited in Knöner’s court will never have to pay a fine or get points on their driving record. The prosecutor’s office in nearby Bielefeld plans to investigate the mass acquittals and has said it might appeal the judge’s decisions.

“We’ve never seen a case like this before,” a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office told the newspaper Die Welt.

Germany’s ADAC automobile club has cast a sceptical eye on the judge’s actions, saying that his insistence that lawmakers determine where and how driving speeds are measured is unreasonable.

According to the head of ADAC’s traffic law division, Markus Schäpe, such regulation would enable the creation of a “radar camera atlas” and give people a “license to speed,” since drivers would know exactly where speed traps were located and would simply put the pedal to the metal on those stretches that were camera free.

Story continues below…

That would work to decrease traffic safety, he said.

The Local/kdj

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

13:44 November 11, 2010 by lordkorner
Hmm maybe I will buy that Porsche after all.
13:55 November 11, 2010 by ReaderX
No, the Police enforce laws, Judges interpret them. < They should interpret the laws.

In the US some states consider the use of these devices as entrapment.

It should be obvious that any municipality that has them (regardless of the country) are using them to fill their coffers. They are easily hidden even in plain sight. They require less man power or money to operate, than a police officer or 2, as well as their patrol car. So the amount of tickets generated between the two (officer and camera) is astronomical. It is instinctive when one sees a police car to slow down. However due to the size of some camera units they are easier to miss.

While it is true we should all slow down a bit, this is in reality irrespective to the context of the article's subject. The judge has deemed that they are using the cameras in a manner inconsistent with laws. I applaud the man for his actions. Consider that after 30 some years on the bench. It should be clear that the man has not only the experience with the laws of his country, but the knowledge to discern when those same laws are used to take advantage of people as opposed to better the common good.
14:54 November 11, 2010 by moistvelvet
Well done that judge, although breaking the speed limit is still breaking the law, the manner in which the police set up these cameras, on roads that are not particuarly dangerous black spots, the convenient timing before a xmas party, the judge has quite rightly decided to question the way these cameras are being used.

Locally a radio station often reports throughout the day where the police have set up these traps, the police have tried to stop the radio station from warning drivers, but then the question was asked if the cameras are to slow cars down then surely telling everyone about them is better, otherwise it appears to be a clear entrapment to fill the deplenished koffers of the xmas fund, not to slow cars and save lives.
15:10 November 11, 2010 by Der Grenadier aus Aachen
This Judge must immediately be awarded with the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic, and celebrated as a hero of the German people by our smashing speeding cameras left and right.
16:08 November 11, 2010 by freechoice
speed limits changes on a strassenbahn as quickly as ABC!

watch out for the signs, i always missed them!!
18:56 November 11, 2010 by toemag
More "stealth taxes", I always obey the speed limit, not because I'm a goody two shoes, but because I'm stingy. Every time I oversee a sign 'ping' they get me :-(
19:19 November 11, 2010 by rfwilson
The old "speed kills" refrain is entirely without merit and usually trotted out by those who think simplistically and like simplistic "solutions". What it really means is that "Speed (higher than an arbitrary speed limit) kills".

If you look at the fatality rate of various nations, and compare that with that nation's speed limits, you will find there is no correlation at all between speed limits and fatality rate.

Speed limits are often arbitrarily set by politicians, not by road safety engineers, and are commonly set at speeds far slower than is safe to drive at.

Proof that "speed kills" is rubbish, is easy to find. Germany has higher (and often unlimited) speed limits, than in the US. Yet the road fatality rate in Germany is lower than in the US.

Gee... maybe this has something to do with Germany's tough drivers license requirements! In North America, drivers tests are a joke, and driver skill level is generally pathetic. They "fix" the problem created by a continent of unskilled drivers, by maintaining low speed limits, then endlessly repeating that "speed kills" BS!
21:49 November 11, 2010 by ReaderX
rfwilson, While I agree with your statement, you can't state that "road fatality rate in Germany is lower than in the US." The premise there is that Germans are better drivers. Well one also needs to look at the number of people driving in correlation with the total population. There are obviously far few accidents and or fatalities in Germany, however there are far fewer drivers on the roads. So the likely-hood of an accident is lower.

This has nothing to do with the speeds at all.
23:12 November 11, 2010 by nolibs
Amen to this guy. Germany is becoming almost as bad as Great Britain with these things. My wife got a ticket for 4k over the limit in a 30 zone! You can't even measure that in your car.

Anyone else notice that there are less and less speed-free zones on the Autobahn?
01:33 November 12, 2010 by rfwilson
ReaderX: In fact, public statistics clearly show that the road fatality rate in Germany is slightly lower than in Canada and significantly lower than in the US. Total population is not as important here because it is a fatality RATE (e.g. per 1 million person-km traveled)... what really matters is traffic density, since a country with higher traffic density SHOULD have a higher fatality rate than one with lots of wide open spaces. Germany as a country has much higher traffic density than North America, yet somewhat lower fatality rate. When one sees what little driving skill it takes to get a license in North America, the reasons become clear.
17:40 November 12, 2010 by willowsdad
Make this judge chancellor! How rare is that: a public official who actually lookd to give the little guy (and gal) protection from the "machine"?
20:31 November 13, 2010 by rickingermany

I think you are confused. That equation has nothing to do with Newton. It looks very much like Einsteins Law E=mc^2 where c is the speed of light! Any change in momentum is linear and nothing to do with the square and F=mass x acceleration
12:07 November 16, 2010 by Physics 101
actually, Smittyboy was almost right... the energy of a moving body (aka kinetic energy) is expressed as E=(1/2) mv^2 and is indeed classical ('Newtonian') as opposed to relativistic.
15:32 November 17, 2010 by engineering 101
Physics 101 is correct,(richtig) KE= 1/2*m*v^2 in units called joules where KE is kinetic energy = mass in kg multiplied by the velocity squared in m/s resulting units are kg*m^2/s^2, which is a Newton - meter (N*m). Recall one Newton (N) is the unit of Force in the Systeme Internationale system. The units of 1 Newton the result of F =m*a (1 kg * 1 m/s^2). In Einsteins energy equation E=m*c^2 the units are also in joules because c=velocity(speed) of light = 3.0 x 10^8 m/s is also squared. It is really just the kinetic energy equation above but with the v replaced with a universal constant, the speed of light. The 1/2 coefficient is dropped because it adds almost nothing the result. By the way cameras suck and are not about safety their about political and financial control turning everyone into some sort of criminal
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