Safer Place

Bad drivers should watch out as Israeli start-up SaferPlace is on a mission to vastly improve the detection and prosecution of traffic offenders.

Founded in March 2011, the Tel Aviv-based firm drew inspiration from the business district in the city, home to some of the most congested streets and worst drivers in the country.

“There were a lot of drivers trying to cut lanes, blocking junctions and much more. We then found out that the police didn’t deal with violations that constitute a majority of accidents,” says Hila Freiman-Kareev, Founding Partner and current Chief Marketing Officer for SaferPlace.

The founders’ response was to develop a software and hardware platform that automatically detects driving violations, identifies the culprit and sends video evidence of the offence to the local police.

The decision to issue a ticket is taken by an actual police officer, who uses the video evidence and his discretion to take the circumstances of each violation into account, so drivers need not fear a ‘Kafkaesque’ system of automatic fines.

As a result, law enforcement personnel are able to successfully prosecute and fine offenders at a much higher rate than before. “With our technology they can issue 300 tickets a day rather than 20,” claims Freiman-Kareev.

SaferPace is hoping to disrupt the leaders in this $20 billion market such as GATSO, whose founder invented the first speed camera, and the U.S.-based American Traffic Solutions which booked almost $28 million in revenue in 2012.

But according to Freiman-Kareev, neither of these two firms offers the specialized, violation-specific system that SaferPace has developed.

The start-up has raised $1.5 million to date from individual backers and Israeli venture capital firms, but is still on the lookout for a strategic investor to join them. So far the platform is being used in most of Israel’s largest cities and the company is planning to expand into Europe soon.

However, with each new market comes its own set of laws regarding traffic violations as well as differences in prosecuting authorities. Adapting SaferPace’s platform to accommodate these differences has been the biggest challenge to international growth so far.

“It’s a challenge but on the other hand it’s an opportunity, once you’re in then you can show real value to the authorities. I’m just back from Europe where we presented to a major city police force, they were extremely surprised by what we are able to do,” says Freiman-Kareev.

The potential of increasing revenue from traffic violations by up to 20 times is an attractive proposition for local law enforcement all over the world. If SaferPlace can successfully adapt their algorithms for European traffic laws, then the company should be on the right track to success.