Many out to outwit the AES

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Many out to outwit the AES

Postby admin » Mon Nov 05, 2012 10:05 am

It's only been six weeks since the Automated Enforcement System was implemented to catch motorists who speed and run red lights but it seems to be at a red light in some areas.

JSNG couldn't wait to share a new app he'd just found for the smart phone.

“I just found out something interesting ... an Android software which is able to provide an alert on the AES points published by JPJ.

“Tested it for few days and it works!!! Although not all AES points are installed with camera (yet), it does trigger an audible alert which is useful,” he wrote in an online forum discussing the new and controversial Automated Enforcement System (AES).

The AES, which captures pictures and video images of cars speeding or jumping a red light in targeted areas and issues summonses accordingly to offenders, began on Sept 23 with 14 cameras installed in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Perak.

This is just a small number of the 831 cameras to be installed nationwide at accident-prone areas to make people drive safer, and bring the number of road accidents and fatalities down.

And already there are at least five AES detector apps available for free for the smartphone.

One of the more popular ones is the “AES Detector”, which has been downloaded 100,000 times so far! Developed by one Kevin Chua, it promises to assist drivers to detect an AES camera within 1km from their present spot and asks that people turn on the speaker on their mobile phone in order to hear the AES alert.

Unlike the old system where the police move from one area to another and who, at times, seem to hide or jump out from bushes to take traffic offenders by surprise, with the AES, the location of the 831 cameras is fixed and made known to the public (see for the locations). There are also signboards (though not an adequate number yet) indicating areas where the AES cameras are fixed.

The RM300 summons issued under the AES is non-negotiable. If you commit the offence, you pay because the camera and video images are unquestionable evidence.

While some people have welcomed the move to rein in the behaviour of reckless road users, there are others who are angry and complain bitterly that this will burden the people.

The detractors (including the opposition parties) find it unpalatable that the AES is privatised and that two private companies (Beta Tegap Sdn Bhd and Ates Sdn Bhd) who secured the contract will derive their income from traffic offenders by getting a portion of each summons issued.

“You say people are angry. Of course they are angry. Before this, people could do whatever they wanted on the roads but now with the AES, they can't. But are we supposed to entertain people like that?” Road Safety Department director-general Leslie Leon argues.

Every year a million new vehicles are added on the roads and there are half a million new drivers, he says. While the road infrastructure is developing, it is not at the same pace as the number of new vehicles and new drivers, and the number of accidents and deaths just keeps going up, he adds.

“There are only about 15% of road users who break the traffic rules and the AES will go after this group of people. Their actions endanger the lives of other law-abiding road users,” Leon says.

“If nothing is being done to rein in these people who habitually break the (traffic) law, then others will think since the government is not doing anything about the law breakers, why don't I follow them'.”

In Malaysia, there is an average of 18 to 19 deaths daily from road accidents.

The implementation of the AES, he says, does not mean there will no longer be accidents or deaths on the roads but it is an additional measure that can help reduce the number. “In France, it took three years before they saw a drop. It takes time to change the people's mindset.”

Concurring, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha says Road Safety Department research experts he met in France told him that before the AES was implemented there, they had 10,000 deaths on their roads each year. Ten years later, there were just over 4,000, which is a 60% drop.

Tackling grouses that the two private companies awarded the AES contracts would make money out of the traffic offenders, Kong admits that their revenue will depend on the number of people who are caught on the camera.

“But if everyone obeys traffic rules, then they won't get money. Why enrich them? Don't speed. Don't beat the red light,” he stresses, explaining that thousands have died, tens of thousands have been seriously injured, paralysed and bed-ridden from road accidents, and the numbers are worrying.

In 2001, there were 265,175 road accidents. That number has been climbing steadily over the years with last year being the highest with a total of 449,040 accidents (see chart).

The number of accident-related deaths has also increased from 5,849 deaths in 2001 to 6,877 deaths last year. Motorbike riders or those riding pillion account for more than 80% of the deaths.

Leon says police statistics show that most accidents involving motorbikes are not the fault of the rider but of cars speeding and knocking down motorbikes.

The AES will make it safer for motorbikers because it will force vehicles to slow down in the zone, giving them more time to react and avert an accident, he says.

Even when all the 831 cameras are rolled out, this will cover only about half the number of accident-prone areas in the country.

Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros) director-general Prof Dr Wong Shaw Voon would like to see more cameras on the ground but accepts that 831 is a reasonable number.

Some have questioned the location of the cameras but Prof Wong insists this is based on years of police data on the frequency of accidents, fatalities, and types of injuries and after studying and analysing the area, its surrounding and ranking it.

“We are addressing the higher half,” he says, explaining the camera locations.

He points out that the objective of the camera is to change the behaviour of road users and make them comply with the road regulations.

Prof Wong himself has personally seen the change along the South Klang Valley Expressway (SKVE), which he often uses. Now that there is an AES camera there, people are keeping within the speed limit, he says. “This is the first time I am experiencing this sort of driving experience in my lifetime in Malaysia!”

He says people driving 80kph in an 80kph zone are considered to be driving fast because that is the maximum limit allowed there. If they go up to 90kph in that 80kph zone, they are speeding because it is over the limit.

Prof Wong says some are quick to dismiss the AES as useless because after passing the AES camera zone, people will go back to their old behaviour of speeding.

“But look at it from a different angle. It shows how effective the AES actually is because even with just one camera, you can change your behaviour within that one zone.

“The AES camera is not like the police camera because the AES camera is there 24-7, rain or shine. So no matter what time, if you speed, you will get it (the summons). There is no escape.”

So if there is a sizeable number of cameras around, he believes it will be difficult for people to alternate their behaviours between the AES camera zone and outside it.

“If you keep doing that, you are going to slip up one day and get caught so you will eventually move to compliance,” he says.

“It is important to understand that we would like to move to a situation where most of our drivers obey the traffic rules and not have to pay the summons. It is not the other way around,” he adds.

But 14 cameras, he says, are not enough to make that significant change.

JPJ deputy director-general Datuk Ismail Ahmad was momentarily stunned one time when he was passing an AES-camera zone in Kajang and keeping within the speed limit but the camera still snapped a picture of his car.

“I was going at 70kph but the car in the lane next to mine was speeding so the camera flashed and took pictures of our cars.

“So don't be shocked. Just because the (camera) flash goes off it doesn't mean you will be issued a summons. The AES camera is smart and will calculate which of the cars passing is speeding,” he says.

Explaining how the system works, Prof Wong says each lane has its own separate loop and there are radar sensors on the ground to get the signals.

The distance in the AES zone is fixed and by getting the calibrated time each car passes, it can easily calculate the speed at which each is going and pick out which ones are speeding.

He says the system is also smart enough to calculate cars going in between the lanes.

For the AES camera at traffic lights, he says that if a car passes when the light is amber but changes to red halfway through, the camera will not register this as an offence. It is only an offence if the car crosses after the traffic light has turned red.

Following complaints from the public, they have agreed to put up more signage to alert people when they are entering the AES zone, Ismail says.

“Right now, we already have one signboard at each of the 14 cameras but now we want to add one or two more.

“For traffic lights, we plan to add one more signboard. And for the speeding, we would like to add another two signboards, the first would be 2km to 3km away, the second 1km away and the final 500m away,” he says, adding that it would take three to four weeks to do this.

They have to coordinate with the local council, get approval from the highway concessionaire and then work at where to place the signs, he explains.

About half of the cameras are in the Pakatan Rakyat governed states of Penang, Selangor, Kedah and Kelantan.

And Pakatan has come out to say that they will not allow any camera to be installed in their four states because they oppose the private companies making a profit out of traffic offences.

Kong says this is a legal issue and that the Government might need to seek the opinion of the Attorney-General's chambers.

“Where does the jurisdiction of the state lie? If the Plus highway passes through their state, whose jurisdiction is that?” Kong points out.

“If a road passes through a state and if the state says they want to dismantle that, can they do it? Why don't they just close down the Plus highway in their states?”

He says the Government has been engaging the Opposition on the AES for many years and that the process has spanned a number of prime ministers and transport ministers.

He feels it is not fair to “jeopardise the safety of road users by playing politics” on an issue which is of public concern and stresses that the Government is not forking out a sen for the AES. Road users who abide by the traffic rules and regulations will not either, he says.

“We want our people to be more responsible on the road. People should give this system time to run and see the effectiveness. There are many who tell me they are more careful on the road now and complying with the speed limit.

“It has started to create a perception among the people there is a possibility they may be caught in the system.

“We are starting to move towards a more traffic-rules abiding society. Isn't this what we want? I thought that is the objective. It is not to fine' people and enrich companies.”

Views are still split and it is crucial to get the public onboard the AES bandwagon for it to work effectively and make better drivers of Malaysians and ultimately bring down the accident and death toll figures.

But there are already groups planning anti-AES protests.

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Police speed trap cameras to operate alongside AES

Postby admin » Mon Nov 05, 2012 10:05 am

KUALA LUMPUR: The police mobile speed trap cameras will be maintained alongside the Automated Enforcement System (AES) in a bid to reduce high accident rates, said Deputy Home Minister Datuk Wira Abu Seman Yusop.

“Despite the introduction of the AES, the Government has no intention to abolish the old system.

“The police would operate (mobile speed trap) cameras, while the new system would be operated by the Road Transport Department (JPJ),” he said in a reply Monday to a supplementary question by Mohd Firdaus Jaafar (PAS-Jerai) during question time, who asked if both systems would be operated concurrently.

Abu Seman also noted the use of AES and police mobile camera system would help reduce the nation's accident rate by increasing awareness and the “perception of being caught”.

“As accidents are prevalent, all relevant agencies must be involved in monitoring traffic and carry out their duties to solve the problem,” he said.

He also revealed that the police had issued 180,062 postal notices (police notice 170A) to road users during the Ops Selamat conducted during the previous Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebration holiday.

“The notice was issued to road users according to the section 115 of the Road Transport Act 1987, aimed to determining the identity and address of the errant road users,” he said.

The police, he added, had also issued 61, 191, summonses during the same period for various traffic offences.

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Motorists refuse to give way to ambulance because of AES cam

Postby admin » Thu Nov 08, 2012 3:08 am

MOTORISTS at the traffic light junction on Jalan Besar-Jalan Lintang Lasah opposite the Magistrate Court in Sungai Siput, 30km from Ipoh, have refused to give way to ambulances of late.

The reason is that they fear being caught by the Automated Enforce-ment System (AES) camera at the traffic light.

“This road leads to the hospitals in Ipoh. I have seen ambulances blaring their sirens trying to cut through the traffic, but the vehicle in front of the queue just refused to move due to the red light,” said T.S. Tom whose office is a few metres from the traffic light.

The 42-year-old used car dealer said there should be a grace period for people to know more about the system and the Government, to fine tune it.

The Star quoted MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek saying last Saturday that motorists should be given a grace period of three months to learn about the AES, and that the Transport Ministry should review some aspects of AES’ implementation.

Tom said he had heard screeching sounds of vehicles trying to stop abruptly near the traffic light.

“I almost had an accident last month when the car in front of me applied its emergency brakes,” he added.

He reasoned that the motorist in front of the crossing line would tend to brake upon seeing the amber light, regardless of their speed or distance from the light.

“Their reaction is triggered by their fear of not being able to estimate when the light will turn red,” he said.

Tom said a countdown timer would help motorists to estimate the changing of light, adjust their driving accordingly, and this could reduce bumper-to-bumper accidents.

“Previously accidents seldom happen at the traffic light junction, but I have been hearing screeching sounds of vehicles since the installation of the AES camera,” he said.

There will be 26 AES cameras in Perak, eventually.

Two have been operational since Sept 23.

Besides the one in Sungai Siput, another one was also installed at the busy Jalan Pasir Puteh -Jalan Temenggong traffic light in Ipoh where two schools and a wet market are located.

Sports store manager Zainab Nasir, 50, also felt a countdown timer was of help to motorists to help them assess the changing of lights, reduce their speed and avoid accidents.

“The traffic light with the AES camera does not have a countdown timer, but the traffic light on the same stretch and just about 600m away, has a countdown timer and police camera,” said Zainab whose office is along Jalan Pasir Puteh.

On the RM300 fine, Chin Tak Ming, 55, has suggested that it be reduced by half.

“Malaysians are generally not well-to-do.

“It is 15% of a person’s income if he earns RM2,000 a month,” he said, adding that a big chunk of their salary would be gone if they got more than one AES summons a month.

Chin who is a steel mill supervisor in Mambang Diawan said lowering the fine should not be a problem since the Government said the AES was implemented to reduce accidents.

Meanwhile, Perak PAS is coming up with free legal aid for motorists who wanted to challenge their AES summonses in court.

Its deputy commissioner Misbahul Munir Masduki said two cases were due to appear in the Slim River Magistrate Court on Jan 8.

“I am not advising motorists to break the rules, but I disagree that a portion of the AES summonses are paid to two private companies,” he told a press conference.

Non-governmental organisation “Bantah AES” coordinator Saifullah Zulkifli said AES was a burden on the people and it was not the only way to cut accident rates.

“Accidents occured not just because of speeding.

“Other factors include the weather condition and the condition of the road and vehicles,” he said, adding that there was a need to educate the people on such factors

He also questioned the Government in allowing the private sector to take part in the AES.

Saifullah said several NGOs, including Media Perak and Solidarity Anak Muda Malaysia would stage a protest in Sitiawan against the AES tomorrow at 1.30pm.

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AES does not affect traffic laws

Postby admin » Tue Nov 27, 2012 3:08 am

SHAH ALAM: The implementation of the Automated Enforcement System (AES) does not affect existing traffic laws or regulations.

Road Transport Department deputy director Ahmad Nasir Abdul Gani said the public seemed to be confused about the AES.

“For instance, a summons for beating the red light is still RM300 prior to the AES. The difference now is that there is a 24-hour monitoring system via the AES cameras,” he said here yesterday.

Motorists who were issued speeding tickets could still appeal, provided there was concrete proof, he added.

Commenting on a report stating that there was more than 60,000 traffic offences recorded by the AES since September, Ahmad Nasir said they would be verified first before summonses were issued.

Ahmad Nasir emphasised that the AES was needed in order to reduce the high rate of accidents and fatalities in Malaysia, with 19 deaths recorded daily.

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