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Imagine you could win the lottery just by driving safely.

The intriguing concept is simple: All fines exacted from speeding motorists are put into a pot, to be paid out to one law-abiding driver selected in a "lottery."

Here's how it works: A speed camera takes pictures of all drivers' license plates. Speeders are fined while the safe drivers' plates are compiled in a database, and a lucky law-abider is then selected to receive the total amount of the speeding fines.

Effectively, all drivers are "in it to win it."

That's the idea that blossomed into reality for its originator, Kevin Richardson, of San Francisco, who won a VW-sponsored competition earlier this year and saw his innovative theory played out on the streets of Stockholm, Sweden.

Richardson, a games designer and producer at Nickelodeon, told AOL Autos his inspiration was the safety of his three young daughters, and his horrifying personal experience of watching someone else's child get struck by a car on the way to school.

"You can't stop people from speeding," he said. "The real point is it makes you aware of your speed. Being aware of the law versus safety, it's more fun, like a game focused on the driver and less on police.

"If you are aware of a progressive slot machine, and that the prize amount is going up and up, that's an incentive. If 200 people are fined $100, that's a big pot."

While offering a financial incentive to drivers to keep their speeds low, the system's real ingenuity, Richardson says, is that it takes away any profit motive from speed-camera systems, at a time when some cities and municipalities are being criticized for their use of speed or red-light cameras because of the revenues they generate.

Richardson submitted his idea to VW and marketing agency DDB as part of their Fun Theory competition. Previous winners of the ideas contest include the now-famous "piano staircase" also in Stockholm, which encourages people to use stairs instead of escalators, a video of which went viral last year.

Michael Bugaj, at DDB, said: "The Fun Theory has managed to capture something that engages people, is fun and inspires people to join and create his or her own ideas.

"The reach is beyond what we ever imagined and we are thrilled that it is still growing and people continue to share it."

Could it actually work? David Haenel, a Florida traffic defense lawyer, said it was a very interesting and fun idea, but stopped short of endorsing it.

"Attaching a financial incentive to encourage people to do things is very interesting indeed," Haenel said. "I wonder if it would curb behavior, and it would depend how much is the check for.

"People who have to get to work on time might not think it's enough of an incentive."

Further arguments against the scheme include privacy issues and states or cities being involved in anything considered a lottery scheme. Richardson also believes that, in certain instances, speeding or red-light cameras can increase accident rates, such as rear-end collisions at busy intersections if drivers have slowed their speed significantly to avoid a ticket.

Many states, Haenel pointed out, like Florida have no speed-camera system in place.

But Richardson said it was great to see his idea actually put into practice. The short traffic experiment in Stockholm was overseen by the governmental Dept. of Traffic Safety and the winning prize of about $3000 USD was handed out to a lucky motorist. Richardson was flown to Stockholm to see the system working as part of his prize.

VW reported that the camera system caused average speeds to drop by about a quarter, from 32 kilometers an hour to 25, during the three-day test.

Richardson also seemed tickled to learn that Sweden often levies speeding fines in relation to an individual's income, which can result in fines in the hundreds of thousands of dollars if, say, a millionaire is caught speeding.

"If a multi-millionaire gets fined, I'd like to win that money!" he said.

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      • 4 Months Ago
      I think its a bunch of crap myself. I have no desire to be monitored 24/7 by anyone. I cannot beleive the american people are tolerating this nonsense. These cameras and in fact most of them should be dismatled and taken down. Camera companies have convinced our offials and lawmakers that there is a need to monitor "We the People" for the greater public good. Sorry, not buying it.
      • 4 Months Ago
      An incentive.... Once again the U.S. government having to offer something for people to do the right thing. Too many people in the U.S. are selfish and will only do something if gain is to come of it. Just do it b/c its right.
      • 4 Months Ago
      TLP Says After reading all of theses Comments God Bless most of us still have some brain cells left.
      • 4 Months Ago
      These camera systems cost from hundreds of thousands of dollars___up into the Millions of dollars to install and to pay for the monitoring equipment. They need every cent of fine money just to pay for these camera systems and their maintenance costs.
      • 4 Months Ago
      Something that people don't realize, is that if this is put into use and every single driver over the speed limit gets fined, it will seriously slow down the country's economy. I propose that, yes, keep this system, but only fine those who are going 6+ mph over the speed limit, because everyone knows that almost every driver on the road is going five over the limit.
      • 4 Months Ago
      Maybe one day we the people will understand that govenment does not have a money issue it has a spending issue. I urge you to read your local budget, your school budget. It will become clear quite quickly that the waste is incredible. Now before anyone starts whinning read the budget and get back to me.
      • 4 Months Ago
      who would believe this sick fairy tale..only fools and suckers..?? If it sounds to good to be true ...It is..
      • 4 Months Ago
      yeah, cuz why not give you a reason to let them keep all your plate and identification on another file somewhere.
      • 4 Months Ago
      I don't care if they have speed cameras, but the cameras should ONLY click a photo when someone is SPEEDING. Use that money for ROADS and bridges. Keep your freekin' lottery....and don't keep a record of my "good" driving. There is enough big brother going on already....
      • 4 Months Ago
      "If 200 people are fined $100, that's a big pot." Perhaps if the fine was only $100, these cameras wouldn't be so controversial. I got one of those tickets for making a left on what I thought was a yellow, but I was like .4 seconds into a red. The fine was not $100, it was $450. Mind you, that's more than half a paycheck for me. I will gladly admit to fault, but in this case I thought I had the yellow, and I put no one in danger. But aside from that, the other night I was waiting at a red to make a right turn. I was in the rightmost lane, and this guy came out from my left side, went through the red, and made a right turn from a straight lane. That's far more dangerous, and the cameras didn't pick it up because they only seem to pick up the people going through a yellow. Way to keep people safe! Plus, maybe they're more honest in Sweden, but who's dumb enough to believe that California lawmakers are going to give up their precious ticket fines to their citizens - the ones who are ACTUALLY suffering financially??
      • 4 Months Ago
      Oh, By The Way, I AGREE with the "income-based" fining system!! Why? Because a 100 dollar fine will be "really hard" on a person with no or really low income, BUT is such no big deal to those millionaires! So, to "punish" a person EQUALLY, go INCOME/WEALTH based!!
      Robert Saviola
      • 4 Months Ago
      I do not like the idea. I have always thought that fines collected should go to a victims fund instead of the government as the government suffered no loss and the victims did, but using the con of possibly benefiting an individual to impose a big brother spy system on the general public is appalling.
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