Speed camera tolerances on UK roads

26 April 2019
 

The UK has one of the best safety records in the world, yet on average 9 people are killed and 85 injured each day on the roads. Safety cameras save about 100 lives a year by reducing speeding and making the roads safer. 

Since the introduction of speed cameras on Britain's roads in 1992, it's the Gatsometer BV speed camera which has become the most commonly used camera on the UK's road. 

Gatso speed cameras use radar technology to measure how fast a vehicle is travelling and to trigger the camera into action. If a motorist is driving above the road speed limit then two photos are then taken in quick succession. The Gatso uses a powerful flash to show the rear of the vehicle, its registration plate, and white painted calibration lines on the roads surface.

Gatso speed cameras are always rear facing. The reason for this is that the speed cameras 'flash' will not blind oncoming motorists. However, this also means that the speed camera may not be visible until the last second.

Earlier this year, you might have heard rumours that speed cameras in the United Kingdom have such low tolerances that just 1mph over the speed limit could have a ticket coming your way. Auto Express did some digging to bring the truth to light.

Through Freedom of Information requests, the real thresholds for most of the UK’s 45 police forces have been revealed, giving us an idea of just how wary we should be when passing one of our 3224 speed cameras. Thankfully, the dreaded ‘1mph-over speed ticket’ rumour was proved to be false.

In an effort to set the record straight about the thresholds set for Gatsos and other cameras that result in motorists receiving speeding tickets, it asked all police forces to reveal the limits they set individually.

Of the 45 forces contacted, 33 responded - though nine of these refused to disclose the tolerances they set.

In most cases, the tolerance is 10 per cent plus 2mph over the limit.

This follows the claims in August that West Mercia Police chief constable Anthony Bangham wanted to introduce a zero-tolerance for motorway speeding, which would result in drivers receiving points and/or a fine for going 1mph over the 70mph national limit. 

This has since been refuted - and the motoring title wanted to discover what thresholds forces were currently using.

The majority of the forces that responded to the FOI request confirmed their cameras would only activate when motorists exceeded speed limits by 10% plus 2mph - in line with prosecution guidelines from the Association of Chief Police Officers. 

Two forces had slightly more forgiving tolerances of 10%t plus 3mph over the limit. 

The first of these, the Metropolitan Police, said it used the less strict threshold because it is 'a proportional response to the high volumes of traffic' in the capital. 

The other, Lancashire Police, said the higher threshold was 'to ensure greater tolerance or discretion'.

A number of forces - including Befordshire, Cambridgeshire, Greater Manchester, Herfordshire and Staffordshire - wouldn't reveal their camera thresholds, arguing that knowledge of these would 'encourage drivers to speed'.  

The minimum penalty for speeding is a £100 fine and 3 penalty points added to your licence. 

You could be disqualified from driving if you build up 12 or more penalty points within a period of 3 years. If you’re still within 2 years of passing your driving test, your driving licence will be revoked if you build up 6 or more penalty points. 

By law, the vehicle’s registered keeper must be sent a notice of intended prosecution within 14 days of the alleged speeding offence. 

Below is a breakdown of camera numbers by region and the speed threshold limits

Below is a represention of the infraction type you will incur depending on the speed, above the limit



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