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Fake "Speed Enforced By Drones" Signs On California Freeways 218

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the we-only-track-all-your-movements dept.
NF6X writes "CBS station KPIX reports that somebody has been installing counterfeit traffic signs on California bay area freeways, warning motorists of drone-based speed enforcement. They are professionally-made reflective metal signs of comparable style and quality to official traffic signs, and in some cases are even mounted with tamper-resistant hardware. The signs show the familiar silhouette of an MQ-1 Predator drone launching a weapon. According to KPIX, California Highway Patrol denies that they operate any drones, and states that the signs are fake."
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Fake "Speed Enforced By Drones" Signs On California Freeways

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  • uh huh....fake...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by suso (153703) *

      uh huh....fake...

      That's what they WANT you to think.

      • by jittles (1613415)

        uh huh....fake...

        That's what they WANT you to think.

        The real question is who is behind this? The CIA or the NSA? And why did they post signs? were they hoping to distract us from the other domestic spying?

        • Re:"FAKE" (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @04:10PM (#44373575) Homepage

          The real question is who is behind this?

          Well it's California, so it could be anything from people who support the idea, to people who don't support the idea. To environmentalists who want to scare people into slowing down, to the other end of the spectrum of people who just want traffic to move slower.

          My bet rests with someone inside the DOT who knows someone at a plant that turns out the signs. And got them to do up a bunch.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            My bet rests with someone inside the DOT who knows someone at a plant that turns out the signs. And got them to do up a bunch.

            It's actually simple to go out to any company that does signage for the state and get them to make signs to state standards for you. I once worked on a software project codenamed "Freeway" and thought it would be cute to have a couple Freeway Entrance signs made to put up in the halls on our floor of the building. The only question the company asked me was to confirm they were for private use.

        • Re:"FAKE" (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Synerg1y (2169962) on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @04:50PM (#44374031)

          Sir... the drones you see flying over your head do not monitor if you're speeding. They are merely ensuring you're not a terrorist by adding your license plate, name, and the current speed you're going into our ultra secure database. Nothing to see here, move along.

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          The real question is who is behind this?

          I'm betting it's this guy. [ankrom.org]

        • by ackthpt (218170)

          uh huh....fake...

          That's what they WANT you to think.

          The real question is who is behind this? The CIA or the NSA? And why did they post signs? were they hoping to distract us from the other domestic spying?

          Pissed locals. I'd bet on it.

        • by Intropy (2009018)
          The reverse vampires.
      • Re:"FAKE" (Score:5, Funny)

        by Beardo the Bearded (321478) on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @06:01PM (#44374789)

        "We don't have drones, and we certainly don't have drones that can fire weaponry."

        Seems legit.

    • Re:"FAKE" (Score:5, Funny)

      by JeanCroix (99825) on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @04:01PM (#44373497) Journal
      Senator Vreenak is outraged.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @03:02PM (#44372867)
    How can you be expected to obey the speed limit?
    • by Rockoon (1252108) on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @03:26PM (#44373103)
      It is (or should be) well known that signs like these are a lie. All my life I have seen these "speed limit enforced by aircraft" signs, which tells me that there is no speed enforcement on that road at all.

      If there was actual speed enforcement on the road, they wouldn't jeopardize the revenue stream by putting up signs.
      • by interval1066 (668936) on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @03:33PM (#44373189) Homepage Journal
        I think the fake signs are a completely on-point commentary of the time.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        That is what you think until you get pulled over by a cop that is already waiting for you and that cop tells you that the plane clocked you at a certain speed. Trust me, those "by aircraft" signs are real.

        • While the signs are real, how often do they actually patrol with the aircraft?

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by danomac (1032160)

          They don't even need aircraft, I have seen officers noting license plates and the time they pass on a stretch of highway. They relay it to another officer much further down (in this case about 40 miles) and if you get there under a certain time they pull you over for speeding.

          Someone tried to challenge this in court and lost.

          • by whoever57 (658626) on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @04:39PM (#44373891) Journal

            They don't even need aircraft, I have seen officers noting license plates and the time they pass on a stretch of highway. They relay it to another officer much further down (in this case about 40 miles) and if you get there under a certain time they pull you over for speeding.

            I don't think so (from California Vehicle Code Section 40802 -- Speed Traps)

            Speed Traps

            40802. (a) A "speed trap" is either of the following:

            (1) A particular section of a highway measured as to distance and with boundaries marked, designated, or otherwise determined in order that the speed of a vehicle may be calculated by securing the time it takes the vehicle to travel the known distance.

            Speed traps are illegal in California.

            • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @07:04PM (#44375349)

              (1) A particular section of a highway measured as to distance and with boundaries marked, designated, or otherwise determined in order that the speed of a vehicle may be calculated by securing the time it takes the vehicle to travel the known distance.

              Speed traps are illegal in California.

              As they should be. The problem with any automated system is they treat middle class white people the same as the blacks and teenagers that the cops are supposed to be focusing on. We can't allow that.

              • Troll, really? I took this tongue in cheek and laughed out loud. This is a sad comment on the times, to little humor and to much political correctness.

      • by PRMan (959735)
        The road on my way home has that sign, and cops hide out and write tickets occasionally. They are not necessarily exclusive.
      • It is (or should be) well known that signs like these are a lie. All my life I have seen these "speed limit enforced by aircraft" signs, which tells me that there is no speed enforcement on that road at all.

        I've been on highways that not only have the signs, but also silhouettes of aircraft painted on the road, presumably at known intervals for purposes of clocking vehicles. However, I've never been pulled over there by any cop claiming to have "clocked me by aircraft".

      • by hsmith (818216)
        Not true at all. I-81 in Virginia has these signs.

        I was once driving north on it late at night. All of a sudden, my car lit up with a bright spotlight from above surrounding it. I about shit myself.

        The spotlight then moved to the car and front of me, and so on.

        It was either aliens or the VSP. I'd say, the VSP.
    • by alen (225700)

      because the speed limits are codified in law? in the driver handbooks as well?

      • by Xenx (2211586)
        I can only speak for my state. But, the speed limits in our drivers guide are for when there is no posted limit. In fact, most of the roads I regularly travel on deviate from the speeds posted in the drivers guide.
    • "How can you be expected to obey the speed limit?"

      In a neighboring state, they have a long-standing law that says the policeman who catches you at a traffic infraction is the one who must issue you the ticket.

      Some years ago, they tried painting lines across the highways and timing cars from the planes. Then they'd radio to a car nearby who would pull over speeders and issue them a ticket. Before long, some enterprising speeder pointed out to the courts that the tickets were not legally issued, because the officer observing the speeding was not the one i

  • by TFlan91 (2615727) on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @03:03PM (#44372877)

    Good way to spread awareness and possible outcomes of drone oversight....

    YOU'RE GOING 2 MPH OVER THE SPEED LIMIT! YOU HAVE 3 SECONDS TO DECELERATE!
    *1 sec later*
    DID I SAY 3? TOO LATE!
    *fires hellfire missile*

    • by Valdrax (32670) on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @03:24PM (#44373093)

      Okay, that's a pretty horrible potential future, but I think I could live with it if they also targeted tailgaters and people who don't use their turn signals.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        You must be that asshole in the left lane. MOVE OVER, and stop worrying about wtf is behind you!
        • by Valdrax (32670)

          No, I'm the one in the right lane, going ten over the speed limit, and ticked off immensely by people who *still* tailgate you in the slow lane.

        • by quacking duck (607555) on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @04:36PM (#44373855)

          You must be that asshole in the left lane. MOVE OVER, and stop worrying about wtf is behind you!

          I will not move over to let your sorry ass take my spot, no matter how impatient you are or how close you ride my bumper, if the car(s) in front of ME is what's actually holding up the left lane.

          Don't tailgate, period.

          • by steelfood (895457)

            the car(s) in front of ME is what's actually holding up the left lane.

            Sometimes, it's not. Sometimes, people are in the left lane (or the middle lane) because they're too scared of merging traffic to stay in the right lane (they're comfortable in the left lane), or they're trying to stop people from traveling faster than them (yes, there's tons of those out there who drive at the speed limit and insist the rest of the world do the same). I've seen people recklessly switch two lanes into the left the moment they merge into a three-lane highway, and then proceed to camp there a

            • Regardless, in the scenario I'm speaking of it's not me that's holding up traffic in the left lane, but the cars in front of me, so the AC has no grounds for his all-encompassing demand that anyone in his way should move right.

              I've not driven too many places, but the worst for synchronized (and slow) highway traffic was on the Florida turnpikes between Orlando and Tallahassee. There and back (rental car), even in sections with 3 or 4 lanes each direction, was a uniform speed, and that was exactly the speed

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I'd like them to enforce the laws on impeding traffic. You're supposed to merge at speed not get onto a freeway at 35mph then take 30s-2m to hit 55mph.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @05:17PM (#44374387)
        Hilarious! In 40 years of driving I've never had an issue, nor cared about someone behind me. You guys/gals must have some stellar driving skills that piss people off enough that make them want to drive up on you. If you're blocking the left lane, move over, I don't care what the speed limit is. Forcing people to pass on the right is far worse. There's only one thing you can do, and that's control yourself, don't try and control others. The minute you try and control others by blocking the left lane, and forcing them to pass on the right, what happens? You create a more dangerous situation by making others pass on the right, and road rage. So the next time you get the holier-than-thou attitude you might just get shot over it. Is your life or your family's life worth it? "Well, I was doing 10 over the speed limit" Who cares. Move. You have zero right to block the left lane. None. I don't care if you're doing 50 mph over the limit. Left lane ALWAYS gets faster traffic. Period. So by all means, continue to be a rolling road block, see how long you live. Have you ever been rear ended by a tailgater? And if so, how'd the insurance work out for ya? I'm guessing in your favor.
        • by Valdrax (32670)

          If you're blocking the left lane, move over, I don't care what the speed limit is. Forcing people to pass on the right is far worse.

          As I said elsewhere, I get tailgated in the *slow lane* where I live. Usually while going 5-10 over. If you don't run into that, then I'd like to live there. I miss my short stint in another state where people drove the freaking speed limit and gave each other space. If only I could have gotten a job there...

          The minute you try and control others by blocking the left lane, and forcing them to pass on the right, what happens? You create a more dangerous situation by making others pass on the right, and road rage.

          Isn't it the aggressor's fault for spreading the rage around? The tailgater is the one creating a potential accident. Nothing requires that person to follow at an unsafe distance until one of us d

    • by suutar (1860506)
      Programmed by OmniCorp, I see...
    • by sl149q (1537343)

      There would be no warning other than the Red Dot appearing on your wind shield!

    • Nah, missiles are millions of bucks each.

  • by DickBreath (207180) on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @03:03PM (#44372883) Homepage
    I have definitely seem some of these drones sitting in their car, parked in a way that they think nobody can see them, eating donuts and using their radar gun.
    • by eyenot (102141)

      Oh yeah you must be referring to that same model as those drones that wear the custom-made t-shirts broadcasting to the world that they consider it a very light matter to oppress the citizenry and steal their lives over misunderstandings. Those same model drones that love killing dogs, apparently. I love that model! Wow, what a great model of drone we have enforcing our traffic concerns.

    • by clong83 (1468431)
      Me too. I see cops all the time by abandoned roadside gas stations in the desert. Do they really think they are incospicuous there? I don't intentionally speed, but I know if I see a car a mile up the road at the deserted gas station that it is a cop, and I double-check my speedometer.

      On the article... I've always thought these aircraft enforcement signs were usually baloney anyways. There's one of these signs on Interstate 8 outside of San Diego up in the mountains. The road is windy, in a deep ca
      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        Me too. I see cops all the time by abandoned roadside gas stations in the desert. Do they really think they are incospicuous there? I don't intentionally speed, but I know if I see a car a mile up the road at the deserted gas station that it is a cop, and I double-check my speedometer.

        Perhaps that's the point - instead of handing out tickets, they could park conspicuously and therefore force everyone to slow down so everyone's doing the limit on that stretch of road.

        Some people have gotten just as creative

        • Re:IT'S NOT FAKE! (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Sarten-X (1102295) on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @04:27PM (#44373767) Homepage

          Instead of handing out tickets, they could park conspicuously and therefore force everyone to slow down so everyone's doing the limit on that stretch of road.

          I grew up in a nice bit of farmland, and for a while a nearby town had a single officer, on duty 9am-5pm. From earlier and busier times, the town had a whopping three patrol cars - the nice big Crown Vics with the full-size light bar that any driver with enough vision to drive could see from several miles down the town's one main road. During a particularly bad summer tourist season, that one cop started moving the cars to good locations just inside the town limits. They'd be parked on dirveways (with permission) or lots where they wouldn't be in the way, with just enough cover to look like they were trying to hide, but not enough cover to do so effectively.

          It worked. Traffic usually slowed down, and the one officer could spend his limited time watching from the one stoplight in the town center.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Me too. I see cops all the time by abandoned roadside gas stations in the desert. Do they really think they are incospicuous there? I don't intentionally speed, but I know if I see a car a mile up the road at the deserted gas station that it is a cop, and I double-check my speedometer.

        Here's how it works: if you can see the cop well ahead of time with enough distance to slow down before you reach him, then the placement of that cop is intended to cause you to check your speed and slow down. If the cops want to write tickets to generate revenue, they park where you don't see them until it's too late.

        Prominent cop easily seen = everyone drives carefully, safety is increased
        Hidden cop not seen until last second = some people slam on their brakes, revenue generator

        • by nabsltd (1313397)

          Prominent cop easily seen = everyone drives carefully, safety is increased

          When idiots slow down to 50mph on a section of road with a 65mph speed limit just because there is a cop visible somewhere (the other side of the freeway, parked in a rest area, etc.), I don't see how safety is increased.

        • I've seen the cops leave a car with no-one in it on the side of the road so people will pay a little more attention around that area. Of course when people realise that it's just a fake they replace it with a real policeman for the second effect.

      • by Deadstick (535032)

        In mountains, it's much cheaper to put a man on a high point with a radar and radio, and have several cars lurk just round the next bend. The Georgetown Grade west of Denver gets endless homeward-bound skiers that way.

        • by pspahn (1175617)

          The Georgetown Grade west of Denver gets endless homeward-bound skiers that way.

          Ha! You are so full of shit! When was the last time you drove back to Denver on 70 after skiing and were able to even come close to doing the speed limit?

          Of course, if you're talking about the frontage road, well then you have a case.

      • by whoever57 (658626)

        I always thought that the idea of an aircraft flying around up there reliably tracking cars past markers and getting plate numbers was kind of fishy.

        It is illegal. Calfornia Vehicle Code Section 40802 defines this as a "Speed Trap" and speed traps are illegal in California.

    • Those kind of drones are not as sleek or as fast as the one on the sign.

      What no Zombie Crossing Signs?

      The most annoying would be the "Dead End" sign posted a block to late to be useful in letting me know to turn off.

    • by ArsonSmith (13997)

      Yea, I saw my neighbor yesterday and he said he had to speed most of the way home. This morning his house was hit by a drone strike and cratered his entire property. It didn't even touch my property, so the accuracy of these things is really good.

    • parked in a way that they think nobody can see them

      Psht. Some cops have hiding down to an art form. I remember driving along the highway and thinking "Why does that snowbank have a police light bar...."

      As I drove by, I saw he'd precisely trimmed the snowbank with a shovel, flat-topping it just enough to see over and for his radar unit.

      That said, we don't need speed enforcement. We need illegal/improper/unsafe operation enforcement, proper crash investigation, and criminal penalties for negligence tha

      • by Carnildo (712617)

        If you can't see far enough ahead to spot the cop before he tags you, you can't see far enough ahead to safely go that fast.

      • by Lehk228 (705449)
        around here they just use the rolling hillocks, or they pull off the side of the raised highway so there is nothing but an open door edge visible and even then they have you lidar'd before you see the car.
  • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmhNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @03:06PM (#44372907) Journal

    I would have taken that seriously if not for the missile.

  • by OzPeter (195038) on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @03:18PM (#44373023)

    While not a fake sign, a long time ago (as indicated by the message) there was a sign warning "Police Aerial Speed Checks" that was tagged with "Pigs in Spaaaaaace"

    • by Matt_R (23461)

      I remember seeing that on the F3 north of Sydney, back in the 80s.

      They're put the aerial speed check signs and road markings back now, but I don't think they actually do any flying. The 'aerial speed check' location just happens to be right next to Warervale Airport - so motorists see a cessna coming in to land, and slow down.

  • by jeffb (2.718) (1189693) on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @03:19PM (#44373029)

    I'd like to shake the hand of whoever is behind this. I have to respect anyone who's willing to put serious effort and bucks into this kind of culture-jamming [wikipedia.org].

    • by cusco (717999)
      You should check out the Freeway Blogger some time. http://www.freewayblogger.com/ [freewayblogger.com]
    • by JDG1980 (2438906) on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @03:53PM (#44373427)

      Here's his website: http://stephenwhisler.net/Stephen_Whisler.html [stephenwhisler.net]. And a direct link to the page on this prank / performance art: http://stephenwhisler.net/Sculpture/Pages/Speed_Enforced_by_Drones.html [stephenwhisler.net].

      • by PRMan (959735)
        I'm pretty sure that making fake traffic signs is illegal, probably a felony.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        CHiP is still "looking into it".
        Meanwhile, Slashdot found the perp within 53 minutes. I wish I had mod points to give to you, good sir!

        • by Macrat (638047)

          Meanwhile, Slashdot found the perp within 53 minutes.

          Found? Even when the perp did a news interview long before this was even posted on Slashdot?

          http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/video/9112799-artist-behind-fake-drone-signs-explains-head-turning-project/

      • by kheldan (1460303)
        So not only did some idiot do this with his own money as a "guerilla art project", but he posts it on a public website, that was located by the /. reading public in no time at all? So this guy wants to go to jail, pay likely some enormous fines, plus be required to pay (no doubt exhorbitant) State costs for removal of said signs? How is it that someone with obviously less than an IQ of 50 can operate a website, take pictures, formulate a plan like this, etc?
        • So not only did some idiot do this with his own money as a "guerilla art project", but he posts it on a public website, that was located by the /. reading public in no time at all? So this guy wants to go to jail, pay likely some enormous fines, plus be required to pay (no doubt exhorbitant) State costs for removal of said signs? How is it that someone with obviously less than an IQ of 50 can operate a website, take pictures, formulate a plan like this, etc?

          Regardless of IQ, the fact is still that all publicity is good, especially for a relatively unknown artist.

    • I didn't do it. Too illegal and easy to get caught.

      I'm the dude that flies an electric RC predator drone over groups with large paranoid populations (Occutards, Deadheads, any protest, Tea Party, gun shows, Code Pink etc etc).

      If anybody else takes this up, my advice: put a person into the crowd to see the drone and point it out on schedule.

  • Jerry Brown is quoted: "These aren't the drones you're looking for."

  • by Tanktalus (794810) on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @03:21PM (#44373053) Journal

    Should pack 'em up and send them to Afghanistan or Iraq or Pakistan or anywhere else that POTUS wants to enforce, ahem, speed limits.

    On the other hand, whoever did this doesn't merely have a sick sense of humour. They're highly insightful to the way the government is heading.

  • Why is CHiPS(*) actually posing with the sign like it is theirs? That just seems like an odd thing to do.

    * Cue exploding cars in the background

    • by Valdrax (32670)

      Assume for a moment that you had his job. Wouldn't you?

      In my experience, most cops have more of a sense of humor, especially black humor, than the public realizes. Comes the territory of any kind of difficult, unappreciated job.

  • by stewsters (1406737) on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @03:25PM (#44373097)
    Have the police take them down and keep them. I'm sure they will be useful again in about 2 years at the rate privacy is going over here.
  • To make the video complete, we need a car driving by the sign with one of those fake missiles chasing it....
  • by goodmanj (234846) on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @03:37PM (#44373239)

    "Speed enforced by drones" is just as true as "speed enforced by aircraft".

  • In full effect [wikipedia.org]
  • by JDG1980 (2438906) on Wednesday July 24, 2013 @03:47PM (#44373359)

    According to NBC News [nbcnews.com], the fake drone signs were a bit of performance art by a local guy named Stephen Whisler. He described his motivation as " partially political and partially a prank".

  • That should have been "Speed limit enforced by drones".
    Maybe the signs were made by someone whose first language isn't English, and/or someone who is not that good at it.

    The way it's written, I'd think a minimum speed was enforced by drones - as in; drive too slowly and get blown to bits with a missile.
    I am partial to that kind of enforcement. Some people just like to take their sweet time getting somewhere.
    - I'm just kidding ..maybe >:-]
    • by NF6X (725054)

      That should have been "Speed limit enforced by drones". Maybe the signs were made by someone whose first language isn't English, and/or someone who is not that good at it.

      The fake signs closely mimic legitimate "speed enforced by aircraft" signs commonly found on California freeways. For example, see the picture in this SF Examiner article [sfexaminer.com] about declining use of aerial speed limit enforcement in CA. I agree that the wording is ambiguous, but that's not the fault of the creator(s) of these fake drone signs.

  • "Along with not having drones we definitely do not have any drones that would fire any type of weaponry."
  • In a few years you won't be able to speed in California, it will be too hard to speed having to weave and dodge around all the stalled Tesla's on the highways.

  • ... captured him in the act of placing these signs in public.

    My guess would be HELL YES!!!

  • The signs use Arial, and I'm pretty sure that legitimate signs have specific legal standards for the fonts they use, and that Arial is not included.

  • Then the CHP shouldn't have any problem with me tearing them down and hauling them away as trash right?

  • I need some for my street.

  • Bay area wealthy prankster, I salute you!

  • I'm so glad I live in a place where I don't have to drive to get everywhere. Based on the posts here, this [youtube.com] is definitely true.

  • From TFA: "The Highway Patrol is investigating and checking in with sign makers to see if they filled the unique order.". So if they find someone, throw 42 totally ridiculous charges at suspect and put in prison for next 64 years. This is american way of dealing with pranksters (since 1980, with twice power since 2001).

An Ada exception is when a routine gets in trouble and says 'Beam me up, Scotty'.

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