From the ‘Gatso’ to the ‘Ultra’ the 18 types of speed camera revealed… plus the most common myths about them busted
THE differences between the 18 types of speed camera have been revealed, with some common myths about them busted.
It can be confusing to try and keep track of the gadgets you might encounter on the roads and the laws around them – here’s everything you need to know.
D-Cams, short for digital cameras, arrived on UK roads in 2013.
They can be identified from their cylindrical shape and use infrared lights to pick up traffic in the dark.
As a result, they do not flash and you may not notice being caught out by one.
They are usually found on central reservations and can monitor up to three lanes at once.
As well as speeding, they can be combined with an array of sensors on the road to catch drivers jumping red lights.
The cameras are able to store up to 10,000 images and even transmit them in real-time to police databases.
Made by the same company as the D-Cam, these are the older model that they replaced.
They are forward facing so can pick up the face of offending drivers at the wheel and, like the D-Cam, do not flash.
The Combi uses three marked lines on the road to calculate speed, while also relying on sensors at road-level.
They are more boxy than the D-Cam and are often accompanied by a separate camera with an orange lens to photograph those caught speeding.
REDFLEX cameras are rarer on British roads but could become more common in the future after being granted Home Office approval recently.
The company offers two different types of camera.
One monitors traffic lights, while the other can watch up to six lanes to detect speeding.
They are usually composed of a grey box with two supplemental cameras just below, one on each side.
They can capture high-resolution colour images and even catch multiple offences at the same time.
The first speed camera used in the UK, having cropped up on the M40 as early as 1991, the Gatso is well-known to motorists.
They use radar tech and road markings to double-check speeds to catch speeders.
The only issue is that they are rear-facing, meaning they can’t measure the speed of an approaching vehicle and can’t pick up drivers’ faces, only the rear plate.
This has led many offenders to claim they were not at the wheel at the time of the crime.
However, the window is closing on that excuse, as Gatsos are now being steadily replaced with more modern units.
It is true, though, that not all run-ins with Gatsos will actually result in a fine, with dummy units flashing drivers to warn them but not issuing a penalty.
From the original speed camera to the latest, the VECTOR-SR is sometimes known as the “Ultra Camera”.
They have been put up in the Greater Manchester area and a more extensive rollout is expected in future.
The device does not rely on road markings, instead using a virtual grid system to determine speeds, eliminating the need for sensors.
Like the D-Cam, it does not flash and it is the first of its kind to be able to monitor traffic in both directions simultaneously.
The new camera also has in-built number plate recognition technology and, when it detects a speeding offence, it can also be used to check if you were wearing a seatbelt or using your phone.
A bit of a technical downgrade from the ultra, but handheld speed guns have been relied on by police for years.
They are able to measure speed and identify vehicle make and model, as well as reading the plate at up to 820 yards.
The data can then be uploaded to police databases and have been approved to be used as evidence in court.
This camera is likely the one most Brits would recognise today.
Distinguished by its bright yellow, boxy shell, it is sure to crop up in the nightmares of drivers up and down the country.
They often come in pairs, with one on each side of the road, allowing them to survey four lanes in both directions.
Like many other models, they make use of sensors and road markings to accurately measure speed.
These differ from the SR version from the same brand as they are average speed cameras.
Instead of monitoring a particular point, sets of these devices are placed at either end of a longer stretch of road.
The first set captures drivers entering the zone and the time it takes to reach the second set is measured.
If your average speed over the distance is too high, you are given a ticket.
This prevents motorists from slowing down just before a camera, only to speed off again 100 yards later.
Another average speed camera, these are the new kid on the block and the manufacturer claims to be able to link a set of over 1,000 to monitor an area 24 hours a day.
They can also be positioned in the centre or off to the side of roads, making it harder to predict where they might be.
As with the VECTOR and other average speed checks, they can use number plate recognition to identify your vehicle in the event that you’re caught out.
Mobile cameras are used in roaming enforcement vans that can spot dangerous drivers on the move.
The van carries an operator equipped with a camera like a mini Gatso or speed gun to conduct spot checks of the roads.
In effect, this means that any stretch of road could be monitored even if no cameras are installed.
This is a form of mobile camera that has gained popularity since 2018.
The operator holds a long-range lens which can spot speeding within half a mile and detect mobile phone offences.
These have become rarer since other cameras developed the capacity for red light enforcement, but traffic light cameras can still catch you speeding.
They also don’t have to be painted yellow as dedicated speed cameras do under a 2001 law so can be hard to spot.
DS2s are a little unusual in the sense that they are only semi-permanent.
They make use of “piezo strips”, which are embedded into the road.
The cameras are then driven along in a van and connected up to the strips, which monitor speed.
This effectively turns the van into a temporary camera site, which can then be moved on.
These are some of the hardest devices to sport owing to their small size.
They look more like the average CCTV camera but are often put to work in low-speed zones, such as near schools.
They can also be fitted to existing infrastructure, so it’s not always obvious that they have been specially installed.
Like Gatsos, Peek cameras are a bit out of date and only a small handful remain active in the UK.
They are rear-facing and use radar technology but are slowly being supplanted by more advanced optioned.
Drivers can identify them by their shape, with a large yellow box sporting two lenses on the front.
These cameras are closely associated with the controversial smart motorway project, being used on roads like the M5, M1, M25 and M4.
They are usually placed on overhead gantries and look like a narrow rectangular box.
The HADECS, which stands for Highway Agency Digital Enforcement Camera System, can monitor up to five lanes, including the hard shoulder, and operate in all weather conditions.
Introduced in 1999, these are another average speed camera.
They operate in pairs and it is impossible to tell which two are linked.
Nonetheless, they can monitor up to 12.4 miles of carriageway and can detect if you have changed lanes to try and get out of a ticket.
These are the most recent form of mobile speed camera, using AI to “spy inside your car” and detect seatbelt or mobile phone offences.
They are transported on hi-tech vans and can record HD images of vehicles, making identifying drivers easier than ever.
In a three-day trial in Cornwall, similar devices saw over 300 motorists issued with fines.
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