How Do Speed Cameras Work?

Speed cameras aren’t there to annoy drivers; they exist to save lives. The proof is in the startling but crucial statistics. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) argues that high speeds make a driver less likely to react to what’s happening around them, after it revealed that high speed plays a contributing factor in 11% of all road injuries, 15% of serious road injuries and 24% of deaths on the road. In fact, around 350 people are killed each year on UK roads because people drive too fast. Speed cameras help minimise this risk. The money made from speed camera fines usually goes towards local authority schemes.

With that information in mind, drivers have a lot of questions about speed cameras. We’ve rounded up answers to some of the most frequently asked questions…

How are speed cameras triggered?

Speed cameras record a vehicle’s speed by using detectors in the road or radar technology. Some are connected to traffic light cameras to monitor lights and junctions. If a vehicle exceeds the limit or travels over the stop line on a red light, the camera is triggered. It takes a photograph and records the time and date, speed being captured, and speed limit.

Using the car’s number plate, a Notice of Intended Prosecution is sent to the registered owner of the vehicle within two weeks. The minimum penalty is generally a £100 fine and three points on your licence.

Are there different types of speed cameras?

Yes, there are different types of speed cameras in use across the UK. The Gatso and Truvelo are the most common speed camera, but there are also a dozen different types in use.

Do speed cameras flash?

The Gatso (the oldest speed camera, introduced in 1992) has a distinctive flash, but there are some speed cameras that don’t flash. So, don’t be surprised if you don’t see a flash but get a fine through the door.

Do speed cameras work at night?

Yes, infra-red technology means that speed camera can now with in low-light conditions at night.

Are speed cameras always on?

There is one short answer to this one: yes.

Can speed cameras get you from the front?

Most speed cameras, including the Gatso, are rear-facing. However, there are some exceptions, such as the Truvelo, which use a forward-facing camera.

How far away do speed cameras work?

Speed cameras usually use detailed video and images of vehicles from up to one kilometre away.

Put simply: the best way to avoid a speed camera fine is to not speed.