Types of Speed Cameras on the UK Road Network
There are at least 13 types of speed/safety cameras on the United Kingdom Road Networks, from Average Speed Cameras to Variable Speed Check Cameras. It’s difficult to avoid a road these days with a speed camera on it and more drivers than ever before have got points on their driving licences.
We will go through some of the types of cameras below:
Gatso Speed Cameras
Gatso speed cameras have been around since the 1992 and has since become one of the most commonly used speed cameras on the UK road network. Gatso speed cameras use radar technology to calculate how fast the vehicle is traveling, if the camera measures your speed and you are above the speed limit, then usually several photographs are taken. These are always rear facing so as not to blind the driver with the flash.
The Gatso speed camera has a huge flash to show the rear of the vehicle and its VRM, there are also usually marks painted on the road. These lines are a secondary measurement for speed and is a legal requirement. The distance between each line represents 5 mph, then there cannot be any dispute about how fast you were traveling.
The Gatso has been programmed so it can tell what type of vehicle is passing, eg. Car, HGV’s and cars with caravans. The camera works out the length of the vehicle and apply the correct speed limit for each and every vehicle.
Original Gatso’s take traditional film, so on busier roads the film can be used up very quickly. They are also more costly to maintain for the police forces as a member of staff has to physically loaded and unloaded with film.
Digital Gatso Speed Cameras
Introduced in 2007, these digital radar speed cameras are slowly replacing the original film Gatso cameras.
They work in exactly the same way as the film camera except that they never run out of film. When photographs are taken they are either stored locally on a hard drive or sent via a 3G/4G or ADSL broadband connection back to the local police force for ticket issuing.
They do not need to be maintained by the police force due to the digital nature of the technology, therefore more cost-effective to run.
Truvelo Speed Cameras
These forward facing speed cameras don’t us radar technology, they utilise sensor embedded in the road to calculate the time a vehicle has hit the first sensor to the last sensor. The benefit to this being a forward facing speed camera is that the photograph usually picks up the drivers profile.
These camera traditionally do not flash, the flash unit that is connected to this speed camera is infra-red, so its invisible to the human eye.
In addition to the sensors embedded in the road, usually three painted white lines are visible on the road surface. This acts a secondary measurement to manually calculate the speed of the vehicle.
Truvelo D-Cam Speed Cameras
Digital Truvelo speed cameras are being installed in the UK, they can be forward or rear facing and can not only detect speed, they can also monitor traffic and can be used as red light cameras. They can monitor up to 3 lanes of traffic at a time and the maintenance costs of these cameras is very low.
The D-Cam uses two technologies to detect speed. The first is piezo sensors embedded in the road. As a vehicle drives over the first strip it then calculates the time taken to the 2nd, 3rd and sometimes even fourth sensor. If the speed is too high the infra-red camera takes photos. The second technology is a laser beam, this measures the speed of approaching vehicles, if you are going to fast it triggers the camera.
These cameras can take an unlimited amount of photographs due to them being connected live via 3G or broadband connection to the controlling police force.
Secondary lines in the road are also painted as per the legal requirement.
Peek Speed Cameras
Peek speed cameras use radar technology to detect the speed of a moving vehicle, if the vehicle is moving to fast the flash fires and several photographs are taken of the vehicle.
It is a legal requirement for a secondary measurement to be in place at unmanned speed camera locations, so they are usually found with lines painted on the road for manual measurement.
Maintenance is high on these cameras due to them needing a regular change of film.
Watchman Speed Cameras
Unlike other speed camera systems, the Watchman speed camera is yet to be signed off for general use. How ever effective trials in the UK have given this type of camera a boost. As the camera can automatically issue warning letters to drivers.
The camera works on radar technology like the cameras above, but with the added benefit of ANPR and being able to work with variable message signs, flashing when the vehicle has gone over the limit.
Every Watchman Speed Camera comes standard with high-speed communications allowing police forces and local authorities live and recorded video image access without having to go to the physical unit.
This type of camera can also be used to analyse road usage, calculating the amount of vehicles that pass it and registering speeds. Up to 2 million vehicles can be recorded locally or sent digitally, ideal for tracking suspect crime related vehicles.
SPECS Average Speed Cameras
SPECS average speed cameras use state of the art high quality video systems mated with an ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Reading). SPECS are usually located in pairs or even triplets to monitor individual lanes of a road or carriageway. AT least two SPECS units on the same stretch of road need to be located, as the vehicle passes through the first camera the VRM is recorded in the system. When the vehicle passes through the 2nd camera the speed is calculated as an average.
The distance between the cameras can be anywhere between 200 metres and 90 odd miles, tracking your speed over the set distance. They can work day or night and have built-in infra-red illuminators that glow red at night.
Average speed cameras are connected to local authorities or police forces by internet connection. They can also be erected and taken down very quickly, which makes them very popular in roadwork sections of motorways.
The calculation time of a SPECS camera is quick , registering hundreds of vehicles in it database within minutes. When a vehicle has broken the speed limit it automatically issues a speeding ticket.
VECTOR Average Speed Cameras
VECTOR average speed cameras started to appear on UK roads in 2014. They are manufactured by the same company as SPECS and work in a similar way. However on top of speed enforcement they can also be used for bus lane enforcement, congestion charging, level crossings, parking management, etc.
VECTOR speed cameras are only painted yellow if they are used for speed enforcement, otherwise they will be seen on the UK roads in a grey coloured housing.
There is no storage limit on the VECTOR cameras as they are usually connected with the main office or police force via broadband connection, making the maintenance of these cameras very low.
SpeedSpike Speed Cameras
SpeedSpike cameras are the latest speed camera types to hit the UK’s road system, currently being trialed in Hampshire. These speed cameras have lots more technology involved and it has been reported by the Daily Mail that they can communicate between each other and track cars secretly by satellite.
They combine number plate recognition and global positioning to monitor the vehicle speed over an area, monitoring thousands of cars at any one time. The live system can transmit the data and photographs back to the local authorities within minutes depending on the internet connection speeds.
As the first vehicle passes through the camera the number plate is remembered by the system, when the vehicle hits the next camera the average speed is taken. The other technologies within this gadgets are yet to be publicly released.
HADECS 3 Speed Camera
HADECS is short for Highway Agency Digital Enforcement Camera System and is one of the newest camera systems in the UK.
Reported recently by BBC News, these stealth cameras have been catching many drivers out as they aren’t painted in the usual yellow colour and tend to be hidden to one side of the motorway gantries proving harder to spot. Between the 22nd October 2014 and 15th January 2016, it has said to have captured 1513 drivers speeding.
The HADECS 3 system works very differently to other speed camera systems and can monitor up to 4 lanes of traffic at a time. They adjust to the speed limit displayed on overhead gantries. When a vehicle passes through the camera and is over the speed limit, several photographs are taken from wide-angle lenses to photographs of the gantry displaying the speed.
HADECS 3 don’t need to use film, instead all of the photographs and information is sent via an internet connection to local authorities or police forces. The photographs are encrypted and are sent over a VPN to VPN connection, before being assessed by an enforcement officer.
HADECS3 are currently being used on the smart motorway network, which are becoming more popular in the UK.
Mobile Speed Cameras
Mobile Safety Team Vans otherwise known as Mobile Speed Camera Vans are operating in different counties in the UK. They become more common in busier times of the year such as Easter, Bank Holidays and even New Years Day. The aim of the speed camera vans is to monitor the speed of passing cars.
Not only can these cameras capture your speed, but are ideal for capturing those using their mobile phones and driving. The vans measure the speed of the vehicle, however an enforcement officer has to see evidence of the speed on the display before pressing a button to register the offence.
There are other types of mobile speed cameras including Laser Gun’s, Radar Guns and of course, marked and unmarked police cars.
Traffic Light Speed/Camera
Traffic light cameras are fired using ground loops in the road surface or alternatively using radar technology. These cameras can be painted grey so long as they are not being using for speed enforcement.
When a traffic light turns red, the camera becomes active. If a vehicle passes over the ground loop in the given time, the camera is activated and several photographs of the vehicle are taken.
These cameras can also be used to detect speed, so if you do go through a red light and are found to be speeding also, you may find a speeding ticket on the way.
SpeedCurb Speed Cameras
SpeedCurb Speed Cameras are a fixed location installation, utilising sensors embedded in the road surface to measure the speed of a vehicle between the sensors. Should the speed be calculated over the legal limit, three photographs will be taken. The first two will be wide angled photographs showing the vehicle and the secondary measurements painted on the road. The third will be a close up of the VRM.
The SpeedCurb cameras require little maintenance being based on digital technology. They utilise either hard drive or internet connected technology to transmit the offences to the enforcement officer.
Variable Speed Cameras
These sorts of cameras are usually used on motorway networks where the standard speed limit is 70mph. However, overhead gantries with displays can lower the speed limit to 60 50, 40 or even 30 mph in the event of heavy traffic or an accident. The speed cameras work alongside these to enforce the displayed speed limit.
As they are installed on overhead gantries, it is difficult to work out which gantry has a camera. However, we would suggest that you abide by the speed limit displayed on the sign.
Variable speed cameras are becoming more common, especially die to the increasing numbers of smart motorways. Generally the speed cameras are only active when the sign is illuminated however there have been reports that this may change in the future.
Many of these cameras are digital place, requiring little or no maintenance of the system. Photographs can be sent digitally for an enforcement officer to review and if needed prosecute.
DS2 Speed Cameras
Speedmaster, Autovision or Autovision 2 cameras are also known as DS2. They are semi permanent speed enforcement locations that can cover two lanes of traffic in different directions.
Three sensor strips are embedded in the road to monitor speeds, this is then paired to either a camera van or a police car to feedback the speeds of the vehicles.
They can be left unattended and are difficult to spot.
What happens if I get a speeding ticket?
The usual fine for a speeding ticket is 3 penalty points and a fine of between £60 to £100. If the speed is over the allowed threshold then a court summons maybe issued instead of a fixed penalty notice. If it is your first offence, you maybe allowed to take a Speed Awareness Course.
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