Safety Cameras or Milking the Cash Cow
In the UK we no longer rant against the yellow painted speeding cameras at the side of the road. They have been with us now long enough to create a sort of ennui towards them.
Times change, however, and anti speeding technology continues to find new ways to keep an electronic eye on the motorist. Let’s take a look at the range available to “snap” us.
The Gatso is the old soldier which has been on the side of our roads since 1992, although until they started out painted grey, the law change in 2001 meant they had to be yellow for greater visibility.
The Gatso is a rear facing camera activated by radar which determines how fast the vehicle is travelling. If it is over the set limit, it photographs the rear number plate, incorporating a flash gun.
It is taken from the rear because this flash, if taken from the front could momentarily blind the driver. For this reason, with this type of camera, it can be up for debate who was actually driving it at the time.
In contrast, the Truvelo camera, now equally common as the Gatso, takes a photo at the front of the speeding vehicle using a flash in infra-red, which is not visible to the human eye, and results in a picture of both the number plate and the driver in situ.
Truvelo is not activated by radar technology, but by piezo effect sensors buried in the road surface. Like the Gatso, the photo is also taken against a background of white lines as a secondary measurement of speed with which to confirm the vehicle is speeding.
A fairly recent addition to the arsenal (or should that be safety bank?) of electronic eyes, is the average speed camera, in the UK known as SPECS, as it is manufactured by Speed Check Services.
These speeding detection devices were generally used over long term road works but are increasingly appearing as traffic management devices over permanent stretches of road. Normally on motorway works or dual carriageways, or busy trunk roads, these are overhead cameras with “infra-red eyes” to see by night or day.
They can cover distances of varying mileages, by having cameras at set intervals, anything from 200yds to miles apart.
They utilize Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology and measure the average speed between the fixed points. If the average speed exceeds the set limit, it stores the information for speeding fines to be sent out through the post.
As if these are not enough, await the next development, the smart motorway!