Types of speed cameras
With dozens of speed camera locations across the UK’s highways, we reveal what they all are and where you’re likely to find them.
Siemens SafeZone average speed camera. Credit Siemens
What is it? These average speed cameras were introduced to replace spot cameras as part of a deal with Transport for London throughout 2015 and into 2016. Just like the units common within many sections of motorway road works, they record average speed over a measured distance. They work day and night, regardless of weather conditions. The cameras cover multiple lanes and cut costs by – as the name suggests – automatically identifying the car and reading its number plate.
Where is it? According to Smarthighways.net, 50 of them were installed at 24 locations on the A40 in London, with more on the A406, A316 and A2.
What is it? It’s the cute cuddly speed camera we all know and love. Exceed the speed limit and it’ll use radar and camera technology to take several photos of the car as it passes over a grid of white lines on the road surface. Gatso devices are rear facing to stop drivers being blinded by the powerful flash they use to ensure the car’s number plate and position are recorded. Additionally, the lines on the road are merely a back-up and the camera can tell the speed a vehicle was travelling without them. Gatso cameras are smart too, and can distinguish between difference vehicle sizes – catching out HGVs and cars with caravans, etc. – that have separate speed limits. Many motorists would dodge speeding camera fines because the camera’s role of film had run out, however, but the new cameras take digital pictures and won’t run out of space.
Where are they? Mainly on busy A-roads, but the can be found just about anywhere. It is used to the case that they could only be located at accident black spots.
What is it? These smart snoopers can monitor four lanes of traffic and are equipped with Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR), and photograph every vehicle that passes beneath their gantry- or pole-mounted location. The data is then shared with a second unit at least 200m down the road and the car’s average speed is then calculated. The cameras don’t use film and can communicate with a remote processing centre where tickets are issued. Effective regardless of time of day or weather conditions.
Where are they? Motorways and dual carriageways across the UK, with some even starting to appear on rural roads with accident black spots.
What is it? This is a forward-facing camera that works without a flash, so it won’t risk blinding the driver. These devices take a photo of the driver’s face – cutting the risk of unscrupulous motorists getting someone else to take their points for them. The device is linked to sensors embedded in the road surface, which calculate the speed and trigger the camera.
Where are they? The Truvelo isn’t widely employed across the UK, but anyone pulling on their driving gloves in Northamptonshire and Hampshire should be on the lookout.
What is it? Meet Truvelo max! This updated version of the Truvelo uses lasers and can store up to 100,000 images on an internal drive, or ping photos directly – in real time – to a central processing hub. Unlike the standard Truvelo speed camera, the D-Cam can also be used as a forward- or rear-facing unit to keep motorists on their toes.
Where are they? You’ll find these on A and B-roads, motorways and on traffic light signals. They’re not overly common yet, but West Yorkshire has a policy of replacing all of its devices with these digital cameras over the coming years.
What is it? One for the Big Brother conspiracy theorists, the SpeedSpike uses Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) and can be linked to monitor a motorist’s entire journey. There are currently 1,000 of the digital snoopers being assessed on the streets of Hampshire. This camera works in a similar way to average speed cameras – measuring speed over a certain distance, rather than at a single point in time like Gatsos.
Where are they? Look out for these in Hampshire, particularly around the village of Hursley.
What is it? The old-school hand-held or tripod-mounted cameras that pop up at the side of a road. Using laser or radar technology, these cameras are still one of the hardest to spot while you’re on the move. Look out for vans parked at the side of the road accompanied by men in hi-vis jackets trying to keep a distinctly low profile.
Where are they? Expect these to pop up in lay-bys anywhere around the country. However, cops will usually pick high-value roads, so the answer is simply ‘don’t speed’!
What is it? Introduced by the Highways Agency, the HADECS cameras – short for Highway Agency Digital Enforcement Camera System 3 – were intended to help improve traffic flow and motorway capacity, but they seem to be increasingly employed as average speed cameras. The anonymous grey paintjob makes them difficult to spot – sparking accusations of profit over safety for these cameras. They are mounted either on poles or in overhead gantries. These speed cameras don’t use film, with data being sent directly to a remote location for processing.
Where are they? These have been identified on the M25 in the Kent section, with more popping up on the M3 in Hampshire and Surrey, while the North gets them on the M1 in Derbyshire and Yorkshire. The M6 around Birmingham is also covered.
What is it? ? Living on the UK’s highways since 2014, these smart cameras work using ANPR. The multi-talented devices are not only used to catch speeding drivers, but also contraventions involving bus lanes, level crossings, red lights, tolls, congestion zones, parking, yellow box incursions and access control. This camera doesn’t use film, so there’s no limit to the amount of violations they can record and process.
Where are they? You’ll find them popping up in Kent but expect that to spread if successful. The small, hard-to-spot devices can be located on traffic lights, street lamps, poles, bridges and gantries.
What is it: These cameras can often be found keeping a watchful eye on traffic lights as well as speeding offences. The cameras are similar in appearance to Gatsos and also use a rear-facing camera to record the offence. However, unlike its counterpart, the SpeedCurb is not triggered by radar, but uses sensors embedded in the road surface. The SpeedCurb does not use film and digitally transfers records to a remote processing centre.
Where are they? These devices are common across the entire UK.
What is it? Similar in appearance and operation to the Gatso, the Peek uses radar to measure the vehicle’s speed as it passes by – recording it with a rear-facing camera.
Where are they? Counties currently using Peek Traffic cameras include Berkshire, Greater London and Leicestershire.
DS2 camera strips
What is it? These devices are semi-permanent systems that are hooked up to strips either laid on the road surface or embedded within it. The system can cover two lanes and traffic going in both directions. The cameras might be monitored by roadside police who’ll stop drivers at the scene and issue an on-the-spot fine, or left unattended to record offences to be processed at a later date. They’re incredibly hard to spot, but the strips are sometimes marked by short grey poles at the side of the road.
Where are they? Expect to find them where you live!
What are they? With the demise of the road tax disc, the DVLA has upped the number of cameras it has operating to spot vehicles that haven’t paid excise duty. These can be permanent or operated from roadside vehicles.
Where are they? All across the UK