July 27, 2009

Up to a million Italian drivers are thought to have been unfairly fined for running red lights after “smart” traffic light systems were deliberately rigged.

More than 100 people are under investigation in connection with yellow lights being reprogrammed to show only briefly before changing to red.

Sophisticated three-camera traffic light monitoring systems have been fitted throughout Italy – supposedly able to determine the exact 3D position of vehicles and store their licence plate information. Running the lights or performing illegal manoeuvres automatically attracts a €150 fine.

But 63 municipal police, 39 local government officials, and the managers of seven different companies have been accused of rigging the system so it turns from yellow to red quicker. The scam came to light when police chief Roberto Franzini noticed unexpected increases in the number caught on camera.

Prime suspect in the whole affair is 45 year old computer programmer Stefano Arrighetti who is alleged to have played a pivotal role in the tampering. Arrighetti, however, insists there is nothing to investigate, with his lawyer Rosario Minniti adding helpfully: “Arrighetti is a genius whom the whole world envies.”

All of which, is really just an excuse for saying:

And speaking of Italy, five Germans in an Audi Quattro are pulled over at the border by Italian immigration officials.

“Is there a problem officer?” the driver enquires.

“You have five people in a car clearly marked Quattro,” the official informs them holding up four fingers by way of clarification. “This is against the law.”

“This is absurd,” the driver replies. “I demand to speak with your superior officer.”

“Not possible, I’m afraid,” the Italian replies. “He’s busy dealing with a couple of jokers in a Fiat Uno.”


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