Science Beats Traffic Ticket for Rolling Through Stop Sign
Physics professor uses graphs and formulas to prove his innocence and baffle the judge.
If you remember being bored to tears in physics class, you may want to dig out your old textbook in case you’re ever pulled over by police for rolling through a stop sign. A University of California, San Diego, professor used his physics prowess to beat a $400 traffic ticket issued when a police officer observed him allegedly running a stop sign.
According to an article in Physics Central, Krioukov drafted a four-page defense paper, arguing that the police officer only mistakenly thought he ran the stop sign.
Before the judge, the physicist posited that the officer, who was parked 100 feet away from the stop sign, was approximating the angular velocity -- not the linear velocity -- of the professor’s Toyota Yaris; this, argued the prof, could give the observer a skewed perception of the driver's actual speed. Krioukov says he was driving his Yaris when he sneezed as he approached the stop sign, which caused him to brake hard.
Toyota doesn’t publish the stopping distance of the Yaris, but Krioukov estimated that he decelerated at 22.36 mph. He said that a larger vehicle about the size of a Subaru Outback passed his Toyota Yaris and obstructed the officer's view of his full and complete stop.
Krioukov used graphs and mathematical formulas to show that, to an observer, a vehicle traveling at a constant speed could look very similar to a vehicle that decelerated quickly to a complete stop and then rapidly accelerated at the exact moment the vehicle came to a stop, if the view of the vehicle was obscured. Since the Outback-like vehicle didn't have a stop sign, Krioukov maintained that the vehicle's larger length concealed his car for a crucial few seconds. As he accelerated away quickly, the officer mistakenly thought he never stopped and had performed a classic “California roll.”
Apparently, the judge hadn’t studied physics and dismissed the case rather than refute physicist’s findings. But as a devotee to the scientific method and peer review, Krioukov claims there could be a potential flaw in his proof and invites people to discover it on their own.
We suspect it may have something to do with the vehicle in question, since Krioukov claims his Yaris managed to go from 22 mph to 0 and then back to 22 in the span of three seconds. We don't know physics at that level, but we do know cars, and that's not exactly what we’d expect from the subcompact.
Dig out your physics textbook if you want study the full paper, titled The Proof of Innocence.
Even if a Yaris was capable of going from 22 to 0 to 22 in a span of three seconds, the driver would not have stopped long enough to determine that he actually had the right of way to proceed. He deserved the ticket.
EXPLORE NEW CARS
MORE ON MSN AUTOS
ABOUT EXHAUST NOTES
Cars are cool, and here at MSN Autos we love everything about them, but we also know they're more than simply speed and style: a car is an essential tool, a much-needed accessory to help you get through your day-to-day life. What you drive is also one of the most important investments you can make, so we'll help you navigate your way through the car buying and ownership experiences. We strive to be your daily destination for news, notes, tips and tricks from across the automotive world. So whether it's through original content from our world-class journalists or the latest buzz from the far corners of the Web, Exhaust Notes helps you make sense of your automotive world.
Have a story idea? Tip us off at firstname.lastname@example.org.