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City posts sites of cop cameras to boost safety

SHANGHAI'S traffic police have publicized the locations of the nearly 1,700 cameras that are installed across town to catch speeders, illegal lane changers and people who drive in the wrong direction.

The move brings the local cops into compliance with a national mandate for improved transparency in road-rule detection tools.

It's not that the state wants to make it easier for people to avoid speed traps. Authorities said widespread knowledge about the places where errant drivers are sure to get caught - and receive a 200-yuan (US$29) ticket and penalty points against their driver's license - will help improve road safety.

The cameras are installed in areas with high accident rates and on expressways. So, the thinking goes, if violations can be reduced in those areas, fewer people should be getting killed or injured in local road wrecks.

The locations of the traffic cameras were posted yesterday on the Website of the traffic police (, and the list will be updated as new cameras are installed. Traffic police are also increasing the number of signboards that warn of surveillance at the approaches to areas covered by the cameras.

All this transparency doesn't guarantee a fast, free ride elsewhere, however.

Radar-equipped police cars are not affected by the new openness policy, according to the traffic police, who would not say how many of these vehicles are now patrolling the streets of Shanghai.

Even with the police giving away their speed-trap locations, drivers interviewed yesterday didn't seem very excited about the development. The locations were an open secret in the past, especially for motorists who installed detection equipment, a black market that has grown up over the past few years in Shanghai.

The products, whose use falls into a legal gray area, are nicknamed "electronic dogs" which alarm their "masters" that a police camera is coming up.

Shi Zhide, a local retailer, told Shanghai Daily his product can sense a camera from nearly 800 meters away. Some devices, which sell for around 1,000 yuan, use global positioning systems to warn of proximity to a camera. Others, which go for around 100 yuan, are equipped with a detector that senses radar from a speed-check camera.

Some producers even said they stealthily install small signal boxes close to police camera systems that do not operate by radar to help their products work. They point out that some police cameras are connected to sensors installed beneath the roadway or use high-speed photography to detect speeding.

A local car owner surnamed Liu said he hoped to see more effective notification signs along the roads but didn't think much of the new camera map.

"It's impossible to remember every spot on the map," he said.

Shi, who sells the anti-detection tools, agreed. Drivers will still need his products as they can't "copy the police map to their minds," he said.


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