Speed cameras – facts you want to know
by Fiona Taylor
The facts about speed cameras
Did you know that the very first speed camera was installed on the A316 over Twickenham bridge in 1992. It was a gatso device where the trigger was set to capture any vehicle travelling at over 60mph. The A316 had a 40mph limit!
During 22 days it had caught nearly 2,000 drivers speeding at over 65mph!
If a vehicle is travelling faster than a pre-set threshold, the vehicle details and a colour image are digitally recorded and a penalty notice is automatically sent to the vehicle owner.
Why do we have speed cameras?
Almost 400 people are killed a year on the roads around Britain, and a further 2,500 are seriously injured. Figures from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) say that inappropriate speed contributes to 12% of all injuries, 15% of serious injuries and 26% of all deaths on the road.
According to RoSPA these injuries and deaths occur because drivers and riders travel too fast. RoSPA argues that when travelling at high speeds, drivers are less likely to react to what is happening around them.
To help reduce accidents and deaths on the roads, speed cameras are often placed at accident prone areas.
Can you drive over the speed limit and not get penalised?
It is an urban myth that you can drive at 10% over the speed limit and not get fined. Fixed cameras are set with a specific trigger speed for catching drivers that are speeding. However the trigger limit is unconfirmed and so nobody knows if it is 10% or not.
Mobile speed cameras are operated by individuals and it is their discretion, or that of their force, that decides whether you get a fine or not – or the penalty is worse if you are caught travelling over the speed limit.
The law states that you, as a driver, are liable for a speeding fine as soon as you exceed the speeding limit. So if you are doing 31 mph in a 30 zone, or 71 mph on a motorway you are breaking the law and could receive a fine.
The best advice is not to speed at all.
What types of speed camera are there?
Fixed speed cameras
The Gatso was the first speed camera to be installed in the UK and is now the most commonly used camera on our roads. In 1992 they were painted grey, however a change in the law means that they had to be painted bright yellow again.
The rear facing Gatso is accompanied by the Truvelo which uses forward facing cameras to catch the speeding motorists. This type of speed camera captures a picture of the driver at the wheel, meaning there can be no dispute over who was actually driving at the time of the offence.
Mobile speed cameras
These are run by your local police force and can usually be found at places where there is a history of incidents over the last 3 years. These should be signposted to let drivers know they are there.
These cameras can be in marked or unmarked vehicles, or could be operated by
police officers using radar and laser guns. Mobile cameras, as implied by their name, are easily moved, so will be in different locations on different days.
Average speed cameras
These cameras were introduced in 1999 and are becoming a common sight on our roads and motorways.They use automatic number plate reading (APNR) technology to record the date and time as you pass between 2 cameras, this allows a computer to calculate your average speed.
Reported figures suggest that 263 miles of the UK’s roads are covered by permanent average speed cameras. You are likely to find this type of speed camera through roadworks.
Variable speed cameras
Variable speed cameras work in a similar way to average speed cameras, but they are not likely to be on all day every
day. You are most likely to find these on smart motorways when the speed limit is changed to ease congestion or because of an accident.
The cameras on fitted to the overhead gantries and the limit will be displayed on a series of signs for the drivers to see.
What happens to the money made by speed cameras?
Since 2000, local authorities have been able to keep a proportion of the money raised by speed cameras, they can use this money to fund regional schemes.
Are speed cameras useful? Tell us what you think in the comments below.