Math Mistakes in the News: Calculator Time

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I found this story on Eric Berlin via God Plays Dice.

The Herald reported last week that a Traffic Warden was incorrectly ticketing cars in a Devon, England parking lot because of how he was using a calculator. In this parking lot, drivers would pay for a certain amount of time and then post a slip in the windshield with the time they’d entered and how long they’d paid for. One driver, for example, entered at 2:49pm and paid for 75 minutes.

Now 75 minutes is 1 hour, 15 minutes so the driver was covered until 4:04pm. But the Traffic Warden figured out the expiration time by entering in 14.49 into his calculator (for 1449 military time, which corresponds to 2:49pm) and adding on 0.75 (for the 75 minutes). He got 15.24, which he interpreted as meaning that the driver was only covered until 3:24pm. Since it was already 3:41pm, he issued the car a ticket. The car owner saw all this and tried to explain the error — that hours have 60 minutes, not 100, so standard decimal addition doesn’t apply — but the Traffic Warden didn’t see any problem and continued to ticket cars.

In good news, after appeal the incorrect tickets were repealed and a letter of apology sent.

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2 Responses to “Math Mistakes in the News: Calculator Time”

  1. Why would I even need to learn that? » Natural Blogarithms Says:

    [...] 360 (Unofficial Blog of the Nazareth College Math Department in Rochester, New York): The Herald [...]

  2. Inumeracy » eon Says:

    [...] -> Natural Blogarithms -> 360 -> God Plays Dice -> Eric [...]

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