1 2
RexSeven
RexSeven HalfDork
5/22/09 9:25 p.m.

Lately, I've noticed black cables stretched perpendicularly across the highway at one or two locations. At one end, there is a metal box with "Mass. Highway Dept." stickers on it. It almost looks like the trap used in "Ghostbusters" to, well, trap ghosts. Any idea what these things are for? Counting traffic, monitoring speed, something more sinister?

dan_efi
dan_efi New Reader
5/22/09 9:29 p.m.

all of the above

EastCoastMojo
EastCoastMojo Dork
5/22/09 10:02 p.m.

If it is just one cable they are counting axles. If there are two cables within a few feet they are guaging the speed of traffic. If there's more than two cables then back slowly away so as not to become entngled in their web.

RexSeven
RexSeven HalfDork
5/22/09 10:45 p.m.
EastCoastMojo wrote: If it is just one cable they are counting axles. If there are two cables within a few feet they are guaging the speed of traffic. If there's more than two cables then back slowly away so as not to become entngled in their web.

I've come across the first two, and I had a feeling that's what they were for. Haven't come across the latter, but you never know...

EastCoastMojo
EastCoastMojo Dork
5/22/09 11:08 p.m.

If you are paitent you will notice the cables for counting axles will eventually be replaced with construction barrels.

Opus
Opus Dork
5/23/09 12:31 a.m.
EastCoastMojo wrote: If it is just one cable they are counting axles. If there are two cables within a few feet they are guaging the speed of traffic. If there's more than two cables then back slowly away so as not to become entngled in their web.

As stated above, he is correct. If 2 cables, they are recording the speed of traffic. Unless you see a camera near the site, they are updating the records on the speed of traffic in that area. If you get caught speeding around there, a defense can be to compare to this survey taken. If you are under the standard speed of traffic regardless of the speed limit, you could get the ticket tossed.

fastEddie
fastEddie Dork
5/23/09 8:17 a.m.

Mojo be a she thar matey!

curtis73
curtis73 Reader
5/23/09 8:55 a.m.

If there is no one behind me and I see those double tubes, I like to slam on the brakes when I go over them. There is a good chance you'll destroy the tubes = ticket dismissed. Hey, my tax dollars bought those tubes, and I'll be damned if they use them against me to get more money out of me.

You don't see them much anymore because they're just old school. Radars are so cheap that even tiny little towns have them.

I remember when I was first driving, my area used VASCAR, which is those lines painted across the road about 100 feet apart. A cop sits and hits a button when you cross the lines and it calculates how fast you're going. The dumb part is, they have to be in really obvious plain sight so they can see. You'll be driving down the road and see a cop right beside the road and two big yellow lines painted. If you get a speeding ticket after that, you're pretty unobservant :)

Grtechguy
Grtechguy SuperDork
5/23/09 9:01 a.m.
curtis73 wrote: If there is no one behind me and I see those double tubes, I like to slam on the brakes when I go over them. There is a good chance you'll destroy the tubes = ticket dismissed. Hey, my tax dollars bought those tubes, and I'll be damned if they use them against me to get more money out of me. +1 You don't see them much anymore because they're just old school. Radars are so cheap that even tiny little towns have them. I

Michigan uses them constantly.. you see them everywhere

MadScientistMatt
MadScientistMatt HalfDork
5/23/09 10:00 a.m.

I'm not sure the speed measuring tubes are ever used as a speed trap - I've gone over them a couple of times well fast enough that they should set off such a thing. My guess is that they're more of a surveying thing to be used in planning than for ticketing.

EastCoastMojo
EastCoastMojo Dork
5/23/09 10:32 a.m.

Not a speed trap, just monitoring the speed on that section of road, perhaps to plan a future speed trap They may also guage traffic speed to plan if an intersection needs a light or how a new access will impact existing traffic on the highway.

mel_horn
mel_horn HalfDork
5/23/09 11:02 a.m.

And if you count four, you may have wandered onto an aircraft carrier...

EastCoastMojo
EastCoastMojo Dork
5/23/09 11:22 a.m.

The funny thing is that we use these tubes at our rally crosses for the start and finish lines. The lasers that we use at the auto crosses don't work well when you start kicking up lots of dirts, so we use the pressure tubes for the timing equipment - they work great!

NYG95GA
NYG95GA Dork
5/23/09 11:49 a.m.

Reminds me of the old tubes we used to use to alert us to customers in the gas station i worked at back in the early 70s; the older folks on here will remember the "ding-ding" whenever a car pulled up to the pumps. It was an idiot-simple mechanism; required no electricity or compressed air, just a length of rubber tubing with a plug in the end. The sqeezing of the tube by the tires would compress the air just enough to drive the clapper into the bell.. grassroots simple mechanism. Sometimes we'd get tired of hearing the bell, and simply pull the tubing off of the bell, or remove the plug from the end to disable the unit.

I assume the modern traffic counters are just as simple.

Kramer
Kramer Reader
5/23/09 5:47 p.m.
NYG95GA wrote: Reminds me of the old tubes we used to use to alert us to customers in the gas station i worked at back in the early 70s; the older folks on here will remember the "ding-ding" whenever a car pulled up to the pumps. It was an idiot-simple mechanism; required no electricity or compressed air, just a length of rubber tubing with a plug in the end. The sqeezing of the tube by the tires would compress the air just enough to drive the clapper into the bell.. grassroots simple mechanism. Sometimes we'd get tired of hearing the bell, and simply pull the tubing off of the bell, or remove the plug from the end to disable the unit.

If you blew into the end of the tube, the bell would go off like crazy. Then you could speed off.

Not that I've ever done that...

porksboy
porksboy Dork
5/23/09 6:09 p.m.

You dont have to worry about the black hoses across the highway. Just the BLACK HELICOPTERS ABOVE YOUR HOUSE

M2Pilot
M2Pilot New Reader
5/25/09 10:46 p.m.

Many years ago,probably up into the 1960s,the NCHP used tubes across the road for speed traps. I watched a patrolman installing one once. He was using valves(exhaust or intake,I don't know) to hold down the ends of the tubes.

slefain
slefain Dork
5/26/09 10:04 a.m.

One of those stupid monitoring stations got mistaken for an I.E.D. and had a road closed down somewhere. They actually blew up the little box. Wonder what department budget the replacement unit came out of?

Jerry From LA
Jerry From LA Reader
5/26/09 3:24 p.m.

The highway department is measuring speed to determine what traffic is actually doing rather than thinking the grand majority obey the speed limit. Specifically, they are looking for the 85th percentile because that speed is used to determine the present limit of the road, NOT the present speed limit set by bureaucrats who don't know squat.

If you get a ticket and your speed was over the posted limit but at or under the 85th percentile, you could walk away a free man. Also, they use the traffic recorder for general statistics like determining what percentage of drivers ignore the artificially suppressed speed limits on our interstates or determining whether fuel prices effect speed.

They are not looking to nail you for speeding. They are looking to understand their car-driving constituency and whether they should budget money for improvements etc.

However, the black helicopters ARE trying to kill you.

What IS the frequency, Kenneth?

JoeyM
JoeyM New Reader
5/26/09 3:53 p.m.
RexSeven wrote: Lately, I've noticed black cables stretched perpendicularly across the highway at one or two locations....Any idea what these things are for? Counting traffic, monitoring speed, something more sinister?

They're just timing equipment. FWIW, they're fairly sensitive....or at least, that's what the cop told me when he found me rollerblading back and forth across one of the pair of cables they placed across a local road.

John Brown
John Brown SuperDork
5/26/09 3:59 p.m.

Seeing as how they are timing equipment, shouldn't we be using them for hillbilly motorsports events?

Cloverleaf Rally anyone?

nocarbud
nocarbud New Reader
5/26/09 4:32 p.m.

When I was a kid, we used to jump up and down on them, hit them with hammers, anything to make the box make the clicking noise it made when the cars ran over them.
Yeah, I was an easy kid to entertain.

porksboy
porksboy Dork
5/26/09 7:42 p.m.
nocarbud wrote: When I was a kid, we used to jump up and down on them, hit them with hammers, anything to make the box make the clicking noise it made when the cars ran over them. Yeah, I was an easy kid to entertain.

Hell, I would do that at my advanced age.

Carson
Carson HalfDork
5/26/09 8:34 p.m.
NYG95GA wrote: Reminds me of the old tubes we used to use to alert us to customers in the gas station i worked at back in the early 70s; the older folks on here will remember the "ding-ding" whenever a car pulled up to the pumps. It was an idiot-simple mechanism; required no electricity or compressed air, just a length of rubber tubing with a plug in the end. The sqeezing of the tube by the tires would compress the air just enough to drive the clapper into the bell.. grassroots simple mechanism. Sometimes we'd get tired of hearing the bell, and simply pull the tubing off of the bell, or remove the plug from the end to disable the unit. I assume the modern traffic counters are just as simple.

When I was a kid in the early 90's the grocery store had this and when the bell went off the stock boy/bagger would bring your cart out and help you load the car. My brother and I would jump on it twice like a car running over it and them laugh our asses off when the stock boy came running.

poopshovel
poopshovel SuperDork
5/27/09 9:01 a.m.
Opus wrote:
EastCoastMojo wrote: If it is just one cable they are counting axles. If there are two cables within a few feet they are guaging the speed of traffic. If there's more than two cables then back slowly away so as not to become entngled in their web.

As stated above, he is correct. If 2 cables, they are recording the speed of traffic. Unless you see a camera near the site, they are updating the records on the speed of traffic in that area. If you get caught speeding around there, a defense can be to compare to this survey taken. If you are under the standard speed of traffic regardless of the speed limit, you could get the ticket tossed.

Where would one go about finding this information? (Fighting a ticket today.)

1 2
Grassroots Motorsports Magazine

Subscribe Today

Also get your instant access to the digital edition of Grassroots Motorsports Magazine!

Learn More
drtmwnckT3eg9NT1jULMAPlpbBnIlgX6