ANPR cameras to register whole list of infringements
Belgian federal Minister of Mobility François Bellot (MR) wants to use cameras capable of automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) to actually replace policemen for recording more infringements like trucks overtaking when it rains or car drivers blocking the middle of a cross-road deliberately. The project is put on the table of the Council of Ministers on Friday.
Bellot in the first place wants to adapt the law to update the list of infringements ANPR cameras can legally register without an authorized police officer physically present at the site.
Overtaking when raining: 116 euro
A number of infringements are in the minister’s view. Like heavy trucks overtaking on two-lane highways when it’s raining, which remains forbidden in the future and will be fined more than 116 euro. Buses and coaches are exempted.
On that same highway the cameras can be used to spot vehicles driving against the traffic too and detect vehicles not respecting speed limits indicated by dynamic road signs or driving on the emergency shoulder (the latter fined 173 euro in the future).
Blocking cross roads
Entering a Low Emission Zone with a polluting vehicle is another domain for the ANPR cameras with LEZ already in place in Antwerp and Brussels. Cities are interested in using the ‘intelligent’ cameras for other infringements too, like to register drivers who deliberately block a cross-road after traffic lights already turned red for their direction.
Traffic regulations say its forbidden to enter a cross-road – even when lights are green – if you are not sure the traffic will allow you to clear the crossing before the other direction gets green light. In cities like Brussels this is a daily phenomenon that creates bad blood with lots of car drivers. Also not respecting direction arrows on the road or on traffic lights is on the list of infringements to monitor.
Bellot wants to use the cameras to oversee the flow of goods too, like checking whether trucks are entering forbidden zones when they exceed the maximum weight allowed or where trucks aren’t allowed at all.
ANPR cameras can recognize a number plate by analyzing all pixels of the picture – taken with infrared at night – and by recognizing a pattern that is compared with the numbers of the database of registered vehicles. It can also check whether the vehicle is searched for by the police or whether it is insured or not.
Accuracy of 94%
The cameras have an accuracy of at least 94% but will never meet a full 100% in number plate recognition, like in case of damaged plates. To detect the list of infringements Bellot wants to include, intelligent software has to be added.
Part of the problem is that all those cameras have to be homologated officially and in Belgium this means by four different instances: one for each region (Flanders, Brussels and Wallonia) and one for the federal level, that is in charge of the highways.
There are no European standards for it yet, so each region has its own set of standards which complicates the process of developing new features considerably for the industry making these cameras.