Speed camera myths – are they true or false? Find out the truth behind the UK’s speed cameras and how the rules are enforced

We’ve all heard the rumours about how you can beat the dreaded speed camera and subsequent fine – but how many of them are actually true? Simply read our speeding ticket mythbuster to find out the truth here.

Remember, the best way to beat the speed camera is drive within the limit.

Find out the truth about speed cameras and tickets here

Find out the truth about speed cameras and tickets here

Some speed cameras are not switched on: True

Using speed cameras costs money! Everything from keeping them maintained to collecting and processing data from them can be hugely expensive. Many fixed sites – where drivers know about them – have been switched off in favour of more profitable mobile speed traps.

Research from Confused.com found that up to a quarter of speed cameras were not in use during 2015 – meaning the current figure could be even larger as cops concentrate on mobile speed traps to boost earnings.

You must be notified about a speeding ticket within a certain time: True

If you suspect you’ve been caught speeding you’ll have just two weeks of worrying to get through before you find out. Authorities must send a Notice of Intended Prosecution to the vehicle’s registered keeper within this period. If it arrives later than this period, there’s a good chance you’d be able to successfully have it thrown out on appeal.

However, if you were flashed while driving a hire car or company car, for example, it’s likely to take longer as the Notice of Intended Prosecution will go to the vehicle’s registered keeper and not you. This will add time, but provided it reached the keeper in time, you will still be liable to pay.

The blue cameras on bridges and poles can give out tickets: False

You’ll see these cameras all over the UK, but they won’t be giving you any speeding tickets. These are owned by a firm called Trafficmaster and monitor traffic flow across the UK.

I won’t get a ticket unless I’m driving the limit  +10% + 2mph: Mostly true

This is not ingrained in law, legally you can be given a ticket for driving 1mph over the limit. However, the 10 per cent + 2mph ‘rule’ is a guideline on speed enforcement issued by the Association of Chief Police officers. ACPO offers these guidelines to when a driver should be prosecuted. Remember, though, they are just that – ‘guidelines’.

Ticket or summons? Here’s how you’re likely to be treated when caught speeding.

Limit Speed awareness: From – To Summons in all other cases and above
20 mph 24 mph 31 mph 35 mph
30 mph 35 mph 42 mph 50 mph
40 mph 46 mph 53 mph 66 mph
50 mph 57 mph 64 mph 76 mph
60 mph 68 mph 75 mph 86 mph
70 mph 79 mph 86 mph 96 mph

Will I get a speeding ticket… what happens after the motorway or A-road flash

Local residents in Speed Watch groups can issue tickets: False-ish

You’ll recognise these groups of residents in high-vis jackets pointing speed cameras at you as you drive down leafy residential streets. They can take your details but they can’t issue tickets or penalty points. However, they will report you to cops who’ll send an ‘advisory’ letter. Persistent reports or driving at excessive speed could lead to more serious police action. Find out all here about what Speed Watch groups can and can’t do.

Here's what the community speed watch volunteers can do

See what the community speed watch volunteers can and can’t do: West Midlands Police

I can demand photographic evidence to prove my car was not flashed: True

If you deny the offence and go to court, the police should be forced to release the photographic evidence they have against your vehicle, or the one you were alleged to be driving. This could be useful in cases such as cars being cloned. However, if found guilty, court punishment will be heavier than the fixed penalty ticket.

I can ask for a speed awareness course instead of points: False

Nice idea, but this is not up to you. If you’re eligible for one of the speed awareness courses, it’s the police who’ll let you know. Don’t expect the call if you’ve been caught driving excessively fast or are a repeat offender.

I don’t have to tell my insurance company about a speeding ticket straight away: False

Many drivers think they don’t have to inform their insurance company about a speeding offence until they apply for a new policy, or renew the existing one. Sorry, but this is wrong and you’ll need to come clean and inform your insurer immediately after you’ve received your points. Failure to do so could leave you with no insurance cover.

I don’t have to tell my insurer about a speeding awareness course: Half true

As you only have to tell your insurer about convictions, you won’t need to immediately phone them up and declare that you’ve attended a speed awareness course. However, when you come to renew, many firms will ask the specific question and not mentioning the fact could leave you with a refusal to pay out on claims at a later date.

If I overpay by £1 I will not receive any penalty points on my licence: False

This comes from a rumour that if you overpay your fine by £1, the court system will issue a refund cheque, which, if you don’t cash, will leave the financial transaction incomplete – the myth being that penalty points can only be issued when it is! In fact, doing this could end up with additional costs – and the original points, of course.

The best way to beat the speed camera is to stay within the limit

The best way to beat the speed camera is to stay within the limit

Can community speed watch volunteers really give drivers a speeding ticket? Find out here

Slowing down for speed cameras then speeding up will avoid a ticket: False

This is the case with old-style fixed-position cameras, but the ‘average speed’ cameras found on many roads now measure – as the name suggest – your average speed between various points. These cameras can help ensure smoother, safer driving.

If I drive really fast the camera won’t have time to record my plate: False

According to research, you’d need to be driving at around one fifth of the speed of light to beat a modern speed camera – unlikely in your average Mondeo.

I’ve been told average speed cameras don’t work, so can be ignored: False

There used to be a time when these cameras could be fooled by swapping lanes. However, new technology has long-since obliterated that loophole.

Speed cameras need to be painted yellow to make them legal: False

From October 2016, all speed cameras on motorways and A-roads were painted yellow. That said, some on smaller rural roads may still be an attractive (and hard to see) grey – and any offence they record will be valid.

Cyclists can get speeding tickets: False… but…

Speeding is an offence designed to improve safety on our roads, so it would seem fair that a speeding cyclist should get a fine. However, speed limits are only applicable to ‘motor or mechanically propelled vehicles’. That is unless you’re speeding on a bike in one of the UK’s Royal parks, which have their own bylaws. A 16-year-old teenager was fined a total of £100 for cycling at 37mph in Richmond Park. Electric bikes are supposed to have a top speed of 15.5mph so would be exempt from speeding rules.

Speed cameras are just there to make money – False

This is not the case, apparently… What are your thoughts?

New speeding fines and laws get all the information here

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7 comments for “Speed camera myths – are they true or false? Find out the truth behind the UK’s speed cameras and how the rules are enforced

  1. H says:

    Can you get a ticket for putting finger up to camera van if not speeding????

  2. Andy C says:

    Speeding fines are a voluntary contribution, if you don’t want to contribute don’t exceed the speed limit.
    I do in excess of 20K miles a year in a none too pedestrian car. I have been fined just once and that was in 1972 doing 42 in a 30 limit. So it can be done.

  3. Robert says:

    There were a few things that were not covered, like Do police camera vans have to have traffic cones around them, if so how many?
    I’ve often seen police camera vans parked in entrances to farm fields presumably on private land is this legal?
    Also, do police handheld or tripod cameras have to have traffic cones around them and do they have to wear high vis jackets and how far from the curb edge should they be?
    I have seen police handheld speed cams at the end of a row of trees or behind a series of traffic sign poles at what distance should an obstruction be before its legal to hide behind or merge with it

    At one time your speed was taken over a quarter of a mile now its about 100 yards, is the old rule still law? if it is some new cameras might not be within the law.
    It makes you think that the police with speed cams could work outside the laws because Joe public does not know the laws, they just accept the fines

    • Dave Fisher says:

      Two days before Christmas, delivering Christmas cards in a small village, Scamera van was low height van with lift up tail gate, therefore no markings visible, parked in a lay by outside domestic dwellings, three cars parked in front blocking his vehicle from view, also parked behind a grass verge sticking out into the road that obscured him from view. And to ice the cake…hw was parked on a gradient so he was a little “down hill from the traffic.
      Operator had on a black commando type woolen hat, black polo neck jumper and black trouser, his waterproof hi vis coat was open and held behind his back so that no hi vis at all was showing.
      He had view of me coming out of a side street onto the main road, I could not see him at all. By the time I had accelerated to (what I thought was 30mph) as I had not even put the car into fourth gear so my speed had not settled, he took his photo. My wife and I each have a car, on the day I was driving her Skoda saloon, which is a little nippy, whereas my usual drive is my Ford Focus Estate (all 1.3 tonnes of it and only the 90 horsepower engine) All in all, for a few moments, I indeed was at a speed in excess of the legal limit for that stretch of road. However by the time I had established my position on the main road, I had settled at my usual 30mph.
      Had I intended to deliberately “speed”? Not really, I lived in that village and have driven in that village for thirty years and never received a speeding fine nor been involved in any motoring accident.
      Are the police undertaking covert operations by not wearing appropriate clothing or indication on their vehicles? I believe those operations have to be approved specifically for good reason.
      Does hiding the vehicle enhance road safety?? I would suggest if they were visible the deterrent factor would save lives and slow people down if in fact they were deliberately speeding and or known speeders.

      I will get a summons, they have to pay for the man sat doing nothing all day…he would be better serving road safety by being given a wheelbarrow full of ashphalt and a shovel to fill in some of the extremely dangerous pot holes in the very unsafe road surfaces.

      To end this tale of woe…as I drove along through the village at 30 mph, I was overtaken by two motorcyclists (without number plates on the front of their motorcycles, and as such cannot be caught by the camera) they passed me in a very few seconds, probably 50 mph by my reckoning)

      One assumes motorcycle accidents form a part of the KSI records…for any particular stretch of road where they can site these scameras…Therefore I wonder how that fits in with revenue gathering speed camera philosophy?

      Mechanically propelled vehicles are what speed cameras are there to catch….so why not motorcycles?

      It’s a funny old world is it not??


  4. Do the modern day ‘Road Terrorists’ (HGV drivers) ever get ‘average speed’ fines. When car drivers are being terrorised in average speed lanes doing 55mph and 30 ton HGV’s, sitting 6 feet from their rear bumper trying to force them off the road or speed up to over 60mph. in the 50mph limit. Why should the car drivers get speed tickets when HGV’s seem to be immune?

  5. janet davies says:

    cyclists should be fined for speeding. I tried to pass a cyclist going through our village which is a 30 zone. I got to 40mph and couldn’t catch him. cue catching him further down the road where it is too bendy to safely pass on the uphill part, and having to do 5mph for the rest of the road.

  6. Iain says:

    Whats the sound of light?

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