New cameras to catch drivers on high beam

The first cameras on Baolin Road near Mudanjiang Road have caught 67 offenders since mid-September, police say.
Ti Gong / SHINE

The first cameras to catch drivers driving with their lights illegally on high beam have been installed on Shanghai streets.

The initial batch, on Baolin Road near Mudanjiang Road, have caught 67 offenders since mid-September, police said on Tuesday.

The cameras are specially designed to detect if headlights have more than one bulb or if lights are too strong or cover an unusually large area. Xia Liang, a police officer from the technology department of the traffic police, said the software snap all three measures because cars have different beam systems.

“In some cases, beams come from light bulbs, while others use LED lights — which makes it impossible for us to count the light bulbs,” he said. “In the case of LED lights, the latter two measures are applied.”

The cameras automatically record car plate numbers. The first offense caught by the new system was on September 19 and the driver was fined 100 yuan (US$16) and one point was deducted from his license.

Drivers cannot use high beam when driving on streets with no barriers if an oncoming car is 150 meters or less away.

“In going over the results returned from the camera, we will check the beam standards of the car models because indeed some cars have very bright dipped lights,” Xia said.

The camera will be gradually introduced to other areas.

Previously, police in Yangpu District made drivers who illegally used high beams look into their high beam as a way to educate them about the dangers.

Ti Gong / SHINE
Ti Gong / SHINE

A driver was caught on the camera illegally using a high beam on the street on the evening of Septemer 19.

Ti Gong / SHINE

A driver was caught on the camera illegally using a high beam on the street on the evening of September 20.

Dark street

Xia said Baolin Road was chosen for the first camera because several accidents resulting from drivers using high beam had occurred there in recent years.

“A driver who is flashed by a high beam might lose sight for two seconds, and many accidents take place in that time,” he said.

Baolin Road is in Baoshan District near the Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal. From the major thoroughfare of Baoyang Road, a 300-meter stretch has only five lamps on one side of the street, mostly outside housing complexes.

The section also has a bend lined by tall, leafy trees and no street lamps. The camera is located about 20 meters east of the bend, targeting drivers moving east to west.

A local taxi driver surnamed Song said it’s a tricky street for drivers.

“The corner of the street is a bit too dark at night, and the bend is very sharp, so inexperienced drivers can easily drive into the lane coming from the other direction after making the turn,” she said.

Song said she never uses high beam here, but she considers a flash of high beam to warn other drivers acceptable.

A motorist surnamed Wang who is a resident from a residential complex along the street said that except for the dark corner, the rest of the street was not badly lit.

“I don’t think it’s necessary to use high beam here because the street has busy traffic,” he said.

Chen Huizhi / SHINE

The turn in the middle of the street.

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