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Last night's episode of Mythbusters was wonderfully auto related. The show's hosts, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, take on the myth that a speed camera can be foiled. They attack the myth from various angles, including testing various types of license plate covers that claim to obscure one's plate from the prying eyes of a roadside speed camera. Of course, every mailorder plate cover fails miserably.
The real myth behind this segment, however, is that one can drive so fast that a speed camera will be unable to snap a pic before the car moves out of frame. They begin with an average car, the late-model Dodge Neon. On an abandoned airforce runway the Neon manages to hit 100 mph, clearly not fast enough to foil the camera. Their best shot is with a Lamborghini Murcielago, but they make the mistake of using a drag strip this time that doesn't offer enough room to get up to speed. A professional driver manages to reach about 140 mph, though it's still snapped with ease. Their conclusion is that the speed camera cannot be foiled just by going faster. Really? The Top Gear crew actually managed to foil a speed camera back in their first on-air episode back in 2002, when a TVR Tuscan S driven by the Stig passed a speed camera at over 170 mph, and the camera never went off (check the video here). Now, speed camera technology has no doubt advanced in the past five years, so perhaps the Mythbusters crew is still right and it is impossible to beat a speed camera in 2007.

Adam and Jaime have so much fun testing cars that at the end of the show they implore their viewership to send in more auto-related myths. You can do so here, and tell them Autoblog sent you. Maybe we can get a walk-on roll or something.

We've left some surprises if you still plan to watch the show, which will now enter the pantheon of Mythbusters reruns on the Discovery Channel, and can also be downloaded as a torrent here (NSFW).

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      we made a DETECTOR for all these speed and red light cameras check it out at www.navalert.com http://www.navalert.com !!
      • 8 Years Ago
      actually i should have said "lazy police depts" AND money-grubbing cities
      • 8 Years Ago
      About the Nikon SLR, speed cameras actually use standard hardened digital camera parts now days and it wouldn't surprise me if what is inside the box is really a nice DSLR camera. The speed camera that I got to see the guts in 2004 while touring a factory used a Cannon CCD that was out of the D20 DSLR with a custom Lens.
      Also, about them finding a solution to a breathalyser, if you read how they work, it would be very hard to disguise the results without putting in your mouth that would be so painfully obvious the cop would laugh and make you take it out. Breathalysers look at the alcohol content in your breath, not inside your mouth as many people think. The only time they are off is when people stupidly try to use mouthwash or breath strips and hold some of that in their mouth. That just gives much higher result and shows you are obviously trying to mess with the test.
      The reason I know this is that in my senior year in high school, I did a state science project testing the breathalyser, and tried to see if there was any way of messing with the results. My friend and I tried almost all the stuff that the mythbusters tried, and then some, and nothing changed the results for the better. In fact, the idea that putting baking soda in your mouth beforehand and blowing it down into the breathalyser is what killed it, and ended up costing us 220 dollars to have it repaired before sending it back to the manufacturer.
      • 8 Years Ago
      People that bitch about speed cameras are probably the same people that tailgate everyone on the freeway. How do you assholes think that people end up causing pileups on the freeway? Instead of learning their lesson they just complain that the world is against 'em and that there's some sort of conspiracy. Stop bein' stupid and obey the law. If you want to drive fast, do it on a track.
      • 8 Years Ago
      if you go to court and say under oath that you weren't driving your car then you can possibly get off. I just got an auto-ticket for running a red light. I'm not going to go lie in court though to save a hundred bucks - i mean after all, I ran a red light. It doesn't go on your driving record though (at least not in Seattle) it works more like a parking ticket - which makes sense since they don't have proof you were driving. MikeW - find a cause man - seriously. With all the bullshit going on in this world, you're going to call this tyranny? Just don't break the law and you won't get tickets.
      • 8 Years Ago
      In the US, yes, a Dodge Neon is considered average at best.

      In Kazakhstan however, it is considered the carriage of royalty.
      • 8 Years Ago
      MikeW is correct.

      In addition, most mail order camera tickets do not include the image, which means you need to visit the city in question to review the image and decide if it's really you driving the car (self incrimination) - or rat out whomever might be driving the car. Some California cities send registered owners a document that looks like a real camera ticket (but in fact has no legal weight) in an effort to get the owner to identify the driver responsible for the offense. This essentially means it's the car and it's owner who gets the ticket, regardless of who is driving - which may be some sort of violation of rights right there.

      Also, because the ticket arrives weeks later in the mail without you ever knowing you were snapped, you may not recall the exact circumstances around the time of the alleged offense, making defense harder. Because the ticket arrives so long after the alleged offense, any chastising effect is nil, and of course safety is not served.

      Here in the US, we also only have access to just one of the photos, even though standard procedure is to snap several. By knowing the interval between pics, you can deduce the true speed of the vehicle, which has been used as a defense in other countries as the evidence showed the stated speed and the photo sequence did not agree with one another. In the land of the free? Not an option.


      So it's clearly not a law enforcement type device, but rather a revenue grab with cities, insurance companies, and court processing folks all dipping into the pool for extra profit/job security. It's also the reason behind the big push for front license plates on cars, and creating laws around that - as it makes it easier for cameras to identify the vehicle.

      • 8 Years Ago
      I was a little disappointed in this episode. I mean, of course, it's possible to be going too fast for the camera to snap your photo, but the question is, how fast is that, 150?, 200?, 300? You would think they would've at least calculated the speed.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Average? Ha!
      • 8 Years Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      Watched it, typical Myth Busters show. Easy way? take of the plates, when is the last time you saw a car pulled over for no plates? Hmmmmmmm? Or make your own vanity plate. Hey if you're sppeding your breaking the law, what the heck break another one!
      • 8 Years Ago
      Thanks for the spoiler.
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