14 myths around average speed cameras debunked
Many driving locations now have average speed monitoring equipment in action.
Average speed check cameras are fast becoming the most popular method of policing speed as installation costs fall.
But how do they work? And are there any hard and fast rules about how to avoid being caught?
The theories about how to avoid detection show no sign of abating, with wild and grossly inaccurate advice regularly making the rounds, reports CambridgeshireLive.
In an attempt to separate fact from fiction, we’ve taken a look at how average speed cameras actually work.
1. How average speed cameras work
Among the most common types of average speed camera are SPECS cameras, which are usually mounted on roadside gantries at regular intervals of more than 200 metres, although the latest SPECS 3 cameras need only be 75 metres apart.
In terms of appearance, they closely resemble security surveillance cameras such as those found in urban public areas and are mounted in yellow plastic housings.
Each camera records a date and time stamp. Then, using Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR), the computer can then work out your average speed between the cameras.
By recording photographic evidence that you were speeding and your vehicle number plate they automatically issue you a ticket if you were found over the speed limit on a camera-controlled stretch of road.
If the time it took you to travel between the camera points is quicker than could be done at the speed limit, you’ll get a fine in the post.
Some people wrongly think that each camera records a driver’s speed as they pass each camera, before the computer works out the average speed of the car once it’s passed every camera – this explains why some drivers think they can speed up between the cameras and slow down as they pass them.
But doing this is likely to land you with a fine – the cameras simply record the time you pass them and the computer works out how long it has taken you to pass the distance between them.
2. They only work at night
Wrong. They are fitted with infra red illuminators to ensure they work night and day, and all weathers.
3. They run out of film
Wrong. Unlike some other speed cameras, average speed camera information is saved to a computer. The fact that they are all digital means they can issue an unlimited number of fines.
4. You can fool them by swapping lanes
Wrong. The cameras calculate for lane changes. They take pictures of every lane and cross-compare them.
But this myth can mean people dangerously switch lanes increasing the chance of crashes.
You might also think if you’re on a motorway roadwork stretch you can speed as you’ll be leaving at a junction during the average speed check or stopping at a service station.
But beware, the first and last cameras aren’t always the ones that are paired, so you never know at what point your average speed is being clocked.
5. They don’t flash
The infrared technology means the first you could know about being caught is when the penalty charge notice arrives through your letterbox.
They can also be installed in front or rear-facing orientation and violations can be recorded between multiple locations and multiple lanes within the same system.
6. You’re unlikely to be fined twice in the same stretch
Wrong. Not every average speed camera is paired to every other one on the same stretch of road. Your speed may be compared between the first and fourth camera of four in a row.
Or the second and fourth.
Or second and third.
Any combination is possible.
But beware, on a separate section of the same road you could certainly get fined again.
7. Forget the 10 per cent plus 2 rumour
It has been commonly assumed by many drivers for years that you will not get a ticket provided your speed does not exceed the limit by more than 10 per cent plus 2mph.
This is the guidance to officers from the National Police Chiefs Council- but this is only advisory and in reality some forces are much stricter.
Several police forces nationwide have indicated that drivers can expect far less leeway – mainly down to the cameras becoming more accurate.
And the law states that a driver can receive a ticket as soon as they have exceeded the limit, even if it is only by 1mph.
8. Motorbikes aren’t exempt
The cameras will log any speeding bikers. However bicycles and horses will not be tracked.
The minimum penalty for being caught speeding on the UK’s roads increased in July 2013 from £60 to £100 fine. The maximum fine for speeding is currently £1,000. This penalty rises to £2,500 if you are caught speeding on a motorway.
A restructure of the fines system which came into effect last year means there are now three bands, and the speeding fine payable is dependent on your weekly wage.
The other factor affecting how much your speeding fine will be is the circumstances within which you were caught speeding.
For example, if you were caught in a highly populated area such as London the fine would be higher.
Another consideration is weather conditions.
Previous convictions will also be looked at when your speeding fine is calculated.
Those issued with a fine can also expect a minimum of three penalty points on their licence.
Depending on the road speed limit and your actual recorded speed, a court summons may be issued in place of the standard Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) through the post.
10. But you must be notified within a certain amount of time for it to be valid
Motoring charity Brake says a driver caught by a speed camera, rather than a police officer, must be sent a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) within 14 days.
The notice goes to the individual the vehicle is registered to.
11. You can’t ask for a speed awareness course instead
If the speeding points are being added to a clean licence, police often give you the option of attending a speed awareness course instead of enforcing the fine and penalty points.
But if you do not have a clean licence at the time of the offence it’s unlikely you’ll br offered the awareness course as an option.
Those eligible for a course will be notified by police.
12. You can do a speed awareness course more than once
Drivers caught speeding for a second time may be able to do a second course, dependent on the severity of the offence. But this can’t be within three years of the first speed awareness course, according to guidelines.
13. But you must declare it to your insurance provider
Brake says: “Drivers who fail to reveal that they have undertaken a speed awareness course, who then later make a claim to their insurance provider, may find that their policy is invalid. Information on whether a driver has taken a speed awareness course is held by local police forces.”
14. Where does the money go?
Since 2000, local authorities have been able to keep a proportion of the money raised by speed cameras, to fund regional schemes.