Cops’ high-tech gun tags Borman tailgaters
By Carole Carlson firstname.lastname@example.org | 648-3154 October 22, 2012 4:02PM
Indiana State Police Master Trooper Russell Hayes demonstrates their latest technology, the TruCam which not only captures video of speeders but can measure the speed, traveling time and distance between two vehicles for those following too closely in Gary on Monday October 23, 2012. | Jim Karczewski~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 22, 2012 9:08PM
The trigger on this Indiana State Police-issued device isn’t deadly, but it will be costly to Borman Expressway speeders and tailgaters.
These software-enhanced laser speed guns can catch speeding motorists as well as zero in on tailgating drivers, seemingly a synchronized sport on the busy Borman in Lake County where the speed limit is 55 mph.
Sgt. Wanda Clay, a trooper in the commercial vehicle enforcement division, aimed the gun randomly from the Chase Street overpass over the Borman on Monday and snapped an image of a trucker driving too close to the pickup ahead of him. The measurement is taken in time and distance.
“It was 0.7 seconds,” Clay said in reference to the time elapsed between the back bumper of one vehicle and the front bumper of the one behind. “That’s a ticket. We have the tools now.”
A time less than 2 seconds is considered tailgating.
In the past, troopers had to rely on their own judgment.
The two laser devices, worth about $5,500 each, are only being used on the Borman, for now, said police spokeswoman Sgt. Ann Wojas, but she said the plan calls for every Indiana State Police district to receive at least one.
Wojas said the fine for following too closely is around $140, which includes court costs.
Besides capturing the traffic violation, the gun takes an accurate image of the license plate and driver’s face. “It’s awfully hard to dispute this in court,” Wojas said. Troopers can use the gun on an overpass or more typically along a shoulder of the Borman.
“I catch them before they get to me,” Master Trooper Russell Hayes said. “I have the evidence right here,” pointing to his laser gun. “It’s definitely been helping.”
While Indiana State Police had the speed gun technology, meshing it with the software to detect tailgaters is a new capability. Clay said she got the idea after wearing a path to the Borman to investigate accidents involving truckers.
“We’re tired of coming out here, we’ve got so many, so I’m the spark of this project.”
Clay said she did an Internet check of Borman truck accidents and came away stunned.
“What got my attention was the time frame every week that it ties up this interstate. The goal of the project is not about coming out here and writing a bunch of tickets. Our goal is to remind motorists of the danger of tailgating,” Clay said.
“By law, we don’t have to show them our timing devices. But as a courtesy, we like to.”