Milan cops to deploy “invisible” speed traps

Milan patrol cars to mount Scout Speed.

Milan is to be one of 32 towns and cities in Italy in which police patrol cars will be equipped with the much-discussed Scout Speed radar – and the number is planned to be raised soon to 38.

Virtually invisible to other drivers, the gadget is mounted on the dash of the patrol car, where it will barely be noticed from outside.  Controlling the speed of surrounding traffic, the Scout Speed’s radar operates in all weather and in darkness, checks both vehicles travelling in the same direction and those on the opposite carriageway, and works with the patrol car in motion.

The device is however not omniscient. In conditions of heavy traffic it can easily lose the signal of the vehicle being checked when another one is interposed. And although it operates fully automatically, it still needs the attention of the officer in the passenger seat to adjust its settings to match the speed limit at that particular point. So because local councils may – and do – change limits wherever they deem it necessary, deployment of the Scout Speed will initially be limited to well-known stretches where limits are often broken.

There is still some discussion in legal circles about whether the device breaks the law which stipulates that speed control “postazioni” must be clearly signposted: some observers claim that the word “postazioni” refers to fixed positions manned by cops with static “Autovelox” devices, while others believe the expression may be stretched to cover also mobile traps.

Since speed traps are intended to encourage drivers to moderate their speed, runs the argument, they must be visible, while hidden traps punish the driver only after the offence has already been committed. Moreover there has been discussion and criticism of some – usually smaller – comuni applying unrealistically low limits on relatively safe stretches, allegedly using the Autovelox to generate income.

Other comuni in Lombardy planning to deploy Scout Speed include Verbano, Vergiate, Montano Lucino, Bergamo, Mulazzano, Vigevano and Tromello.