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Safety Cameras: The Facts

Date: Thu 29th March 2018   |   Author: L Blake

We break down all you need to know about safety cameras

If you ask the majority of drivers what the most annoying feature of UK roads is, they’d probably say safety cameras. Love them or hate them, they are an effective way of controlling the speed of many drivers and do their bit to make the roads safer for everyone. In this blog we break down everything that you need to know about them before you set off on your next journey.

The changes to UK speed cameras

There have been major changes to the way speed cameras are operating on UK motorways. With the introduction of the new M1 smart motorway, it has been decided that speed cameras will be permanently switched on across many UK motorways. The aim is to catch motorists flaunting UK motoring laws, but it will also catch drivers that aren’t paying attention to speed or were unaware of the tight new restrictions.

What is a speed camera?

A speed camera is the name given to the safety cameras placed on UK roads, as a means of enforcing speed limits on dangerous roads. Speed cameras are operated by local police forces. 

The different types of safety cameras

There are four different types of safety cameras used on UK roads. They are: -

  • Fixed cameras – these are unmanned and photograph vehicles speeding through stretches of road where road traffic accidents are common.
  • Speed over distance cameras – operated in pairs to measure the speed reached between the two-speed cameras. These are also commonly referred to as average speed cameras.
  • Mobile speed cameras – these are manned and set up at the side of the road. These often operated in traditional police cars or unmarked police cars. Mobile speed cameras are usually located on the hard shoulder or on overhead bridges.
  • Traffic light cameras – used to catch motorists failing to comply with a red traffic light. The motorist doesn’t necessarily have to be speeding through the traffic light camera, as they can be prosecuted driving through a red light no matter what the speed. Traffic light cameras are positioned at the junctions where motorists typically tend to jump the red light. 

Safety camera misconceptions

Not all UK safety cameras are actually switched on. The Government has revealed that a large percentage of UK safety cameras are in fact switched off. However, it would be impossible to assume which cameras are fully operational and which aren’t. To avoid a fine you should always stick to the speed limit on a road.

Many people believe that you can only be prosecuted for a speeding offence if you go over the speed limit by 10%. However, this is actually false. As you can be fined as soon as you go over the speed limit, even if it’s just by  1mph. However, most police officers do not prosecute drivers unless they exceed the speed limit by 10% plus 2mph.

Some drivers are under the impression that average speed cameras don’t really work. Average speed cameras are used to catch motorists speeding over a long stretch of road, as they prevent drivers slowing down and speeding up. According to the Government, average speed cameras have proved an effective measure in preventing dangerous driving behaviour.

How to avoid a fine on the motorway

The best way to avoid a fine on the motorway is simply to not exceed the national speed limit of 70mph.

However, on smart motorways, the speed limit can change due to factors such as bad weather, accidents, rush hour or roadworks. The easiest way to notice a change in speed is by checking the overhead signs. You can discover more about smart motorways here.

Tips to avoid speeding

It might seem like common sense if you’ve been driving a long time, but there are a number of things that you can forget on the highway code. These tips will help you avoid speeding in the future.

  • Know your highway code – if you find yourself forgetting what road signs mean, it’s probably time to have another read through the highway code. You can find the full version of the highway code online.
  • Check your speedometer regularly to ensure you’re not creeping over the speed limit.
  • When you come off the motorway, your speed perception is affected by driving fast for long periods of time. Ensure you drive slower than needed so your speed limit doesn’t creep over the limit.
  • Use a sat-nav with speed limit information if you’re taking a long drive that you’re unfamiliar with. There are plenty available and you can find more in helpful driving apps in this blog.

We hope you found this article on understanding speed cameras informative. There are plenty more helpful articles on the AutoProtect Engage page that answer all of your vehicle and driving queries.