On the roads of the future, it's possible that speeding tickets will be doled out by new automated law enforcement systems instead of by police officers in patrol cars.
The applications of connected-car technology may eventually lie beyond the authority of its creators.
Systems now being developed by the federal government to handle vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications in an upcoming connected-car era may have the capability to more precisely track the locations and speeds of individual motorists.
Officials behind the creation of these communications systems say V2V and V2I communications are not intended for law-enforcement purposes, and a report issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last month said there's not enough data in the transmissions to link such speeding calculations to individual motorists. But then the agency's top-ranking official said it was indeed possible. He said the roadblocks were in the consumer acceptance of such automated enforcement, not in the capabilities of the system.
"I know there is potential for law enforcement to optimize some of these things, but if we go too far, too fast in that direction, it could create some consumer backlash that could hurt its adoption," said David Friedman, NHTSA's deputy administrator, while speaking earlier this month at a conference of transportation officials in Grand Rapids, MI. "The technology is there, but our initial design is not focused on that."
Though skeptical of its adoption, his statement is the first that acknowledges the technical possibility of such an enforcement system. That's important because, even if enforcement possibilities are not the intent of V2V and V2I systems, the applications of connected-car technology may eventually lie beyond the authority of its creators: laws governing traffic enforcement are largely a function of local and state governments.