Speed cameras have been in the UK since 1991 and it looks as though they are here to stay. Known by constabularies all over the UK as “Safety cameras” they are designed to make UK roads safer. However, many people are unhappy with the way they work and how they can result in drivers getting penalty points and even bans if they are caught speeding.
Whatever you think about speed cameras and their use you may appreciate knowing a little more about them.
Gatso speed cameras were the first type of cameras in the UK created to catch speeding motorists. Short for “Gatsometer” and named after the company who makes them this type of camera is rear-facing.
Facing up the road the camera snaps the rear of any vehicles speeding.
Cameras such as these are painted yellow which can make them easy to see.However, they can be obscured by hedgerows, signs and road furniture.
Located at the side of the road and mounted on a pole, these cameras can also be found on overhead gantries or mobile units. Gatso cameras originally used photographic film to capture speeding drivers.
These days, however, Gatso cameras are digital and can store many images via a hard drive.
These cameras are named after the company that makes them. They look quite similar to Gatso cameras as they’re also painted yellow.
However, these cameras face forward. Truvelo camers use a flash to ensure there is always a very clear image of speeding vehicles and their number plate.
In addition to this, there’s a filter that ensures drivers are not dazzled by the flash. Speeding motorcyclists are not always easy to identify as the bikes do not have number plates located at the front.
Truvelo cameras take just 1 picture as speeding offences are registered by its sensors. White squares are painted on the road surface close to the camera as they act as back-up evidence to show that a vehicle was speeding.
These days the latest Truvelo camera is a Truvelo D Cam. This is a digital version of the camera and it can be forward or rear-facing.
Cameras such as these are often used at traffic lights and can detect when drivers go through red lights. These cameras are so sophisticated they have the ability to watch up to 3 lanes.
These new digital cameras look quite distinctive and occasionally have a separate flash that gives off no visible light.
Highways Agency Digital Enforcement Camera System 3s or “HADECS” speed cameras are used throughout the UK. These cameras look very similar to CCTV cameras and are usually mounted to the side of a gantry on a motorway.
Cameras such as these are quite small in comparison to other speed cameras. Many people do not like HADECS cameras as they can be hard to spot if you’re driving at 70 mph or more.
HADECS cameras are rear-facing cameras and they flash when they spot a vehicle travelling too fast. One of the impressive features of this type of camera is that it can adjust the detection speed.
This means that if you’re on a road that has average speed zones or a variable speed limit. It can do this by receiving information from some sensors in the carriageway.
HADECS cameras can monitor up to 5 lines and they can even spot vehicles using lanes that are closed. Using radar technology, these cameras can work in any type of weather.
The SPECS speed camera system works a little differently to Truvelo or Gatso cameras. This is because they are capable of measuring speeding over a longer distance.
Cameras such as these are usually found in 2 or more sets. They can monitor distances from just a few hundred yards to as much as 99 miles.
SPECS cameras have a large yellow CCTV-like camera in the middle and 2 sensors on either side. This type of camera is often used when there are roadworks and there’s a slower than the normal speed limit.
Using automatic number plate reading, the camera registers vehicles when they pass. The 1st camera makes a log of the time and the vehicle and the 2nd camera adds a time stamp.
The time is compared with the log taken by the 1st camera. If the time between the 2 logs shows the driver has passed through the cameras too quickly they will be issued with a speed ticket.
With the ability to monitor multiple lanes you cannot pass the cameras undetected if you weave between lanes.
Many parts of the UK use mobile cameras to provide a temporary sort of coverage. Mobile speed cameras are typically used in areas where drivers tend to speed.
Units such as these can be located in safety camera vehicles. You can typically see the camera peeking out through an open panel or window.
Vans are typically located in laybys, at the side of a toad or on a bridge over the road. Using small Gatso cameras that come with radar technology, on occasion handheld radars or laser cameras are used.
With the ability to set up these vans in any direction, the cameras can catch drivers who are driving to or away from the camera locations. Police forces across the UK need to put up signs that indicate it’s there.
However, they can be set up almost anywhere and at any time. They may be located on smart motorways or at the side of a road that is used to seeing a lot of speeding traffic.
We have already taken a look at some of the most popular types of cameras used in the UK. However, there are other cameras that work in almost the same way.
They work to catch vehicles which go through a red light or check to see if the driver has taxed their vehicle. Knowing what the different types of cameras are capable of and how they operate can help you when you’re on the roads.
However, if you want to make sure that you’re not caught going over the speed limit the best thing you can do is to refrain from speeding.