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Speed traps: Friend or foe?An investigation into Automatic Speed Enforcement on Jeju
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승인 2011.06.09  21:09:59
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▲ ASE systems also have the advantage of deterring traffic violations with warning signs, and increase the fairness of enforcement. Photo by Lauren Flenniken

Speeding has been reported as one of the leading causes of fatal accidents in Korea. On Jeju, approximately 51 percent of all traffic accidents are the result of speeding and other traffic law violations.

Since Automatic Speed Enforcement (ASE) systems were first introduced in April 1997, the Korean National Police (NPA) has installed over 1,000 of them at a number of intersections, along busy streets and on highways throughout Korea. This with the purpose of lowering the number of deaths and injury due to speeding related accidents.

According to a report on speed regulation in Korea by Dr. Kang Jeong Gyu, fatalities from accidents due to traffic violations constitute one of the biggest road safety issues in Korea today. According to Kang, “These [ASE] systems are of particular interest, not only because of their potential to reduce police labor in speed enforcement but also because of their potential to enhance traffic safety.”

Speed cameras have been operational on Jeju since 1998 and were initially installed with the intent of preventing traffic accidents due to excessive speeding and traffic signal violations. Kim Yu Keun, from the NPA’s Safety Department in Jeju, said in an interview there are currently “111 fixed traffic cameras both on highways and on city roads throughout Jeju.” The installation of these cameras will overcome the problem of limited monitoring due to lack of police available for around the clock monitoring and promote accuracy in fairness matters, according to officials.

According to Mr. Kim, there are two types of traffic cameras currently functioning on Jeju.

The first is called a speeding surveillance camera. This works by measuring the speed of each incoming vehicle using double loop or piezo sensors that feed the recorded data to a processing unit that determines the current speed of the vehicle. When the measured speed exceeds the predetermined speed limit, a digital camera captures an image of the vehicle and driver.

The processing device identifies the license plate number from the captured image which is then sent to a local processing center where the owner of the vehicle is identified. An infringement notice is then automatically printed and mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle. A picture is provided with the notice as proof of traffic violation, but the face of the passenger sitting beside the driver is blacked out in order to protect their portrait rights. Since an image is provided as evidence to the violation, it is very rare for people to contest a ticket.

The second is a multi-function camera which checks for both speeding and signal violations. For speeding violations, the multifunction camera works in the same way at the speed camera; by measuring the speed of oncoming traffic using double loop or piezo sensors that feed the information to the data processing unit. To capture signal violations, the camera is set to automatically start recording once the corresponding signal turns red capturing images of cars that are detected in the intersection during a red light.

Currently, the average fine for speeding is 30,000 won for driving less than 20 km/h over the speed limit and 60,000-70,000 won plus 15 penalty points for driving 20-40 km/h over the limit. For signal violation, the fine is 60,000-70,000 won plus 15 penalty points depending on the type of vehicle. All revenue is placed in the national treasury with no money kept or given to the National Police.

Other than overcoming limitations of the police force for around the clock monitoring, ASE systems have additional advantages.

According to Dr. Kang’s report, ASE systems also have the advantage of deterring traffic violations due to warning signs, increasing the fairness of enforcement, higher efficiency with ticketing and payment matters, and safer, more efficient duties for police officers.

The purpose of installing speed and signal cameras across Korea was not only to reduce the number of speeding related accidents, but to change driver’s speeding behavior.

After considerable debate by the Korean National Police Agency, it was decided that two warning signs would be installed 500 meters and 1 kilometer before each camera site to warn drivers of each camera’s presence and encourage a smooth reduction in speed.

As expat Britt Neufer states, such warnings are warmly welcomed by Jeju drivers. “I appreciate the signs warning me that I’m being watched. It’s better than being surprised about a ticket.”

The installation of speed and signal cameras to Jeju has proven to be effective in deterring drivers from violating traffic laws. From 2009 to 2010, the number of traffic violations on Jeju decreased from 72,623 to 66,666 resulting in an overall 8.2 percent decrease in traffic law violations.

However, the reduction in the number of accidents has not been as significant. In 2009 there were 3,624 traffic accidents reported on Jeju and by 2010 the number only decreased 0.2 percent to 3,617.

Despite a marginal drop in accidents in the past year, speed cameras do encourage drivers to be more alert and obedient to traffic laws, thus resulting in a safer driving environment.

“The presence of speed cameras have always discouraged me from speeding. As soon as I see a sign or enter an area where I think there might be a camera, I reduce my speed,” Jeju resident and driver Addie Erwin said.

ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (
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