Speed cameras and ANPR
Electronic speed cameras and Automatic Number Plate Recognition systems have been with as for quite some time now. Many people still loathe their existence and consider them to just be a way of getting more revenue from the average road user. It is however a simple fact that they do help to improve our driving habits and cut down the number of speed related accidents on our roads.
Not many people realise that a lot of the money raised from speeding fines actually gets given to Safety Camera Partnerships. These are local government organisations that have been created as part of the National Safety Camera Scheme.
Their objective is to cut the number of deaths and serious injuries on our roads caused by motorists driving at inappropriate speeds. They hope to achieve this by catching and fining persistent offenders and also organising traffic safety courses for those who have committed less serious breaches of the road traffic regulations.
The Gatso speed camera gets its name from the Dutch company Gatsomeer BV who manufacture them. It was invented in the 1950's and uses radar to measure the speed of the vehicle as it passes by. If the restriction is exceeded it triggers the camera which photographs your number plate from behind. Gatso speed cameras are always mounted to take photos from behind a vehicle to avoid dazzling the driver.
The Gatso camera can take up to 400 photographs before it runs out of film, and on a busy road this can run out very quickly. The only trouble is we never know when this happens.
The white lines marked on the road near the cameras are used to verify the exact speed the vehicle was travelling at by comparing the distance between the two photographs that are taken, one after the other. This second speed measurement is used as physical evidence of the speed violation and will be used if the offender disputes the offence.
Mobile speed cameras are mounted inside clearly identified vans and are used to randomly monitor sections of road where it is not practical to install a permanent camera.
Police motorcycle riders sometimes carry small portable cameras to use in areas where it is not possible to park a camera van.
The SPECS system
The SPECS system uses two cameras linked to an Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) system to both identify and work out the speed of the vehicle between the two points. These cameras have infra red spotlights that enable them to work day or night.
SPECS cameras are normally mounted either at the roadside or on the central reservation but unlike GATSO cameras they have digital cameras which don't have any conventional 'film' in them. They can be used on dual carriageways and motorways because they are able to monitor several lanes at once.
The Truvelo speed camera faces directly at the driver of the vehicle, but unlike the gatso it uses an infra red spotlight which is invisible to the human eye. As the camera is facing you the photo will also show exactly who is driving the vehicle and so it is not possible to claim that someone else was driving.
Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR)
ANPR is not actually a speed detection system, it is used to automatically recognise your vehicles number plate. It is used to almost instantly check the registration of your vehicle to see if it is properly insured, taxed or even been stolen. These devices can be in fixed locations or even installed into police vehicles. If an illegal vehicle is detected you could be stopped by the police.
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