Specs cameras

14 Mar 2005
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United Kingdom
THE Home Office have been left red faced after admitting last night that their new generation of 'SPECS’ speed cameras are fundamentally flawed.

SPECS system's use state of the art video with Automatic Number Plate Reading (ANPR) digital technology and consist of a minimum of two cameras, each fitted with infrared illuminators mounted on gantries above the road.

These cameras work out the vehicles average speed, given the time it took to drive between the two camera positions, however, the multi-million pound scheme has been wrecked by the revelation that drivers can avoid being caught the by hi-tech cameras by simply changing lanes!

The unbelievable loophole means that millions of speeding drivers around Britain could escape a £60 fine and three points on their licence, while the cameras, designed to improve road safety, may actually increase the risk of accidents by prompting drivers to continually switch lanes.

The flaw affects the controversial SPECS cameras, which unlike standard Gatso cameras that individually flash a car as it passes, measure a driver's average speed between two fixed points - which can be over six miles apart.

The cameras were designed to catch motorists who slow down in front of a camera and then drive above the speed limit until they reach the next one. However, under Home Office rules, speeding prosecutions are only valid if a driver is filmed in the same lane from the start to the finish of each section of road covered by the cameras.

That means a three-lane motorway would require three separate sets of cameras - one for each lane, so that if drivers leave the speed-camera zone via a different lane to the one they entered, they cannot normally be prosecuted.

According to Camberley-based Speed Check Services, who produce the hi-tech cameras, the devices were approved by the Home Office in 1999, passing strict tests for use in one lane at a time. However, there was not enough time or finances to extend Home office approval tests to cover the cameras' use over two or three lanes at a time.

This has created the loop-hole, although the company's technical director, Graeme Southwood claimed - without going it to any detail - that this loop-hole was not actually foolproof and that some of those who attempt to use it will still face a speeding prosecution.

Med Hughes, head of roads policing for the Association of Chief Police Officers, said it would be 'irresponsible' and dangerous for drivers to change lanes in a bid to avoid detection.

Motoring groups say police are putting too much reliance on cash-raising speed cameras, that fine a driver travelling a few miles above the speed limit - but are unable to spot a dangerous, drunk, uninsured, or untaxed driver in an un-roadworthy or stolen vehicle who is driving under the speed limit.

Last year more than 2 million motorists were caught speeding on camera, raising £120m a year in revenue for so-called 'Safety Camera Partnerships' comprising police, magistrates’ councils and road safety groups.

Speed cameras have boomed on British roads from a handful a decade ago to 3,300 fixed sites and 3,400 mobile devices today. At the same time there has been an 11 per cent cut in police patrols.

Sets of the SPECS cameras have been installed at 27 sites around the UK at a cost of between £180,000 and £1.5 million per site.

Med Hughes, head of roads policing for the Association of Chief Police Officers, said it would be 'irresponsible' and dangerous for drivers to change lanes in a bid to avoid detection.

Oh right o then...everyones bound to remember that :rolleyes: ..including your own officers? :confused:
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Zampa - can you tell me where you found all of this information? I need to know because a few days ago an off-duty policeman drove his car into mine when changing lanes suddenly just before a SPECS camera.
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This probably explains why they suddenly appeared at major roadworks near us before dissapearing overnight only to be replaced and one lane coned off a few days later......