RexSeven HalfDork
May 22, 2009 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
May 22, 2009 9:29 p.m.

all of the above

May 22, 2009 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 HalfDork
May 22, 2009 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...

May 22, 2009 11:08 p.m.

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

Opus Dork
May 23, 2009 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 Dork
May 23, 2009 8:17 a.m.

Mojo be a she thar matey!

curtis73 Reader
May 23, 2009 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 SuperDork
May 23, 2009 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 HalfDork
May 23, 2009 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.

May 23, 2009 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 HalfDork
May 23, 2009 11:02 a.m.

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

May 23, 2009 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 Dork
May 23, 2009 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 Reader
May 23, 2009 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 Dork
May 23, 2009 6:09 p.m.

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

M2Pilot New Reader
May 25, 2009 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 Dork
May 26, 2009 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 Reader
May 26, 2009 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 New Reader
May 26, 2009 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 SuperDork
May 26, 2009 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 New Reader
May 26, 2009 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 Dork
May 26, 2009 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 HalfDork
May 26, 2009 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 SuperDork
May 27, 2009 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.)

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