Police in South Africa use various technologies to enforce the country’s speed limits.
Some speed traps are automated and may not be interfered with once they have been set up, while some require an operator.
Human-operated speed traps used in South Africa include portable RADAR and LIDAR technology, and police frequently pull over vehicles using these measuring devices.
There are a number of technical requirements on these devices to ensure that the measurements they take are valid.
Justice Project South Africa (JPSA) chairman Howard Dembosky said these requirements are covered in the Technical Committee for Standards and Procedures (TCSP) guidelines.
Among the specific requirements for portable RADAR speed measuring devices when trapping normal cars (class B1 and B2 vehicles) are:
- No metal road signs, or vertical flat surfaces larger than 1m in vertical height, are allowed within 15 degrees on either side of the aiming direction, within a distance of 100m of the antenna.
- No high-voltage overhead power cables in the radar’s field of detection for at least 100m.
For LIDAR, the following restrictions apply:
- No measurement may be locked beyond 500 meters.
- When viewed from the gun, there must be a clear, visible separation between the target vehicle and any other visible vehicle.
- If no photographic evidence is available, the measured distance between the gun and the vehicle must be recorded on the charge sheet.
What you may ask when you are pulled over for speeding
When you are pulled over for speeding, Dembovsky said you may ask to see the calibration certificate for the speed measuring equipment used.
You may also ask to see the operator’s certificate for the person operating the speed measuring equipment.
In addition to certificates specific to speed measurement, a motorist may also ask to see the officer’s appointment certificate as a peace officer.
Dembovsky emphasised that should you choose to request these certificates, you must remain polite at all times.
“If any one of them is not produced, don’t get into an argument about it, simply note it for your defence,” said Dembovsky.
Outa’s chairman Wayne Duvenage recently spoke to MyBroadband about what to do if you get pulled over by traffic authorities, and he emphasised the need to always be courteous.
“Remember, the police are only doing their job and it helps to be respectful and courteous to them. Always be polite,” said Duvenage.
He said handing over your driver’s licence, off which your name and ID can be recorded, is a requirement of a police stop.
The JPSA also advises that motorists sign and accept an infringement notice if issued one.
“It is not in your interests to try and argue a case at the roadside. Remember that a traffic officer is not a magistrate, and the roadside is not a court,” said the JPSA.