Traffic enforcement cameras not reliable, cost Israelis millions


The A3 traffic enforcement cameras used by the Israel Police are not reliable, and the experiments carried out to test this by the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, were flawed, University of Haifa expert Sharon Farber said at a court case in Ashdod. This triggered the police to call for their own expert to testify. 

This is one of several reliability tests the police have tried to push for in the wake of a trial in 2017.

In that trial, Acre Traffic Court Judge Ya’akov Bakar determined that the Israel Police failed to prove the reliability of A3 cameras. The drivers were then represented by lawyers Tomer Gonen, Yossi Yacovi, Eran Bar Or, and Kafir Dor.

The trial revealed that police hadn’t tested the cameras before Israel invested hundreds of millions of shekels in to buy and operate them.

These cameras distributed hundreds of thousands of speeding tickets to drivers. The Standards Institution of Israel director-general Ilan Carmit, who was in charge of testing the cameras, testified falsely that he participated in tests conducted in the Netherlands.

When it became clear that Carmit had given false testimony, Sarit Phillipson of the Israel Police Traffic Division chose to hide this fact from the court for a long period of time. Following this, Phillipson was expected to be removed from her position following Judge David Bacher’s ruling, but she remained in the police force and was later promoted. In the end, police chose not to appeal Judge Bacher’s ruling in order to avoid being forced to stop using the traffic cameras.

A3 camera. Despite the reliability problems, they continue to issue reports to drivers (credit: RONEN TOPELBERG)

Faulty cameras determine the law of the road

In the past, a senior official of the manufacturer of the A3 system testified that the Israel Police does not use the system according to the manufacturer’s instructions, which can affect its accuracy. Additionally, a test carried out by the Technion showed that police speed cameras are only accurate when the vehicle that they test is moving at a constant speed.

If a car accelerates or brakes when it approaches a camera, the level of accuracy decreases significantly. Police hired the Technion’s automotive engineering laboratory to experiment on the A3 system, and rushed to announce that the experiment confirmed its reliability. After a year of suspension, the camera system was returned to use and continued to target drivers to convince them to pay their traffic tickets without argument.

Last week, research engineer Sharon Farber stated that he identified a number of inaccuracies in the use of the cameras. Farber testified, “The test device, the Vibox, is based on hardware from 2018. It is based on probability. All the series of experiments prove that there is a major flaw in the use of the hardware.” 

Farber added, “No one can say if the A3 system is accurate, because they have not compared it to a system that works 100% of the time. The conclusion should have been that the device being compared to it is replaced. It is impossible to rely on the reliability of A3 due to its consistent inaccuracies.” 

Regarding this issue, Israel Police stated, “On November 24, 2022, the Beersheba traffic court determined the tests performed on the A3 system are reliable.” 

CCTV Camera on highway roads- illustration (credit: INGIMAGE)

Despite countless court trials, cameras determined ‘reliable’

Further, lawyer Tomer Gonen told Walla, “We have claimed from day one that the experiments conducted by the Technion cannot confirm that the system is reliable or not. In order to approve an enforcement system there are basic rules that must be met, in our opinion this did not happen at all, and as evidenced in some experiments even the Technion had huge deviations in the speed measurement.”

He added, “Unfortunately, in the trial that was conducted in Beersheba, no expert opinion was brought on behalf of the defense. Therefore, the clear data presented by the defense in Ashdod regarding the flawed manner in which they tried to attack the system were not presented. It is not for nothing that the Supreme Court ruled back in the early 2000s that without proper defense, an opinion has no real credibility. We will bring the rest of our references to the court in detail later in the procedure.”

In a shocking decision on July 4, 2023, a panel of three judges determined, “The reliability of the system has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.” 

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