Speed cameras are devices that monitor the speed of vehicles on roads and highways. They are designed to reduce speeding and improve road safety by deterring drivers from exceeding the legal speed limit. Speeding is one of the main causes of road accidents, injuries and deaths in India and around the world. But the question is How Speed Cameras Work?
In this blog post, we will explain how speed cameras work, what types of speed cameras are there, where they are located, and what happens if you get caught by one.
How do speed cameras detect speed?
Speed cameras detect the speed of vehicles by using detectors embedded into the road surface or radar technology, depending on the type of camera. Some speed cameras also use automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) systems to identify the vehicle and its owner. Some speed cameras combine with traffic light cameras to monitor lights and junctions too. They can detect vehicles travelling over the stop line or entering the intersection after the lights have turned red.
If the speed of the vehicle exceeds the legal limit, or a vehicle runs a red light, a digital picture is taken of the offending vehicle. The picture clearly shows the colour, type, make and number plate of the vehicle. Digital images also include:
- Date of the offence
- Time of the offence
- Location details of the camera that took the picture
- Direction of travel of the offending vehicle
- Speed of the offending vehicle
- Speed limit on the road where the camera is located
- The lane that the vehicle was travelling within
- Other security and integrity parameters¹
Speed cameras can monitor multiple lanes with the use of detectors embedded into the road surface or radar technology. Vehicles cannot avoid camera detection by straddling lanes¹⁴. A speeding vehicle can be detected and photographed even if it is within a line of vehicles. The angle at which the cameras are set enables pictures to be taken, even if another vehicle is close by¹.
What types of speed cameras are there?
There are different types of speed cameras that use different technologies and methods to measure speed. Some of the most common ones are:
- Fixed: These are permanent cameras that are installed on poles, bridges or gantries along roads and highways. They use radar technology or sensors embedded in the road surface to capture speeding vehicles. They can measure the speed of one or multiple vehicles at a time and can record multiple offences.
- Mobile: These are portable cameras that are operated by police officers or safety camera partnerships from vans, cars, motorcycles or tripods. They use radar or laser technology to capture speeding vehicles. They can be moved to different locations and can target specific areas or vehicles.
- Average: These are cameras that use digital video technology and ANPR to capture speeding vehicles. They are installed on gantries or poles along roads and highways. They measure the average speed of a vehicle over a distance between two or more cameras.
- Variable: These are cameras that use radar technology and ANPR to capture speeding vehicles. They are installed on gantries or poles above motorways and smart motorways. They can measure the speed of multiple vehicles at a time and can adjust to different speed limits depending on traffic conditions.
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Where are speed cameras located?
Speed cameras are often placed in notoriously accident-prone areas, to have the most significant impact on reducing speed related injuries and deaths. They are also located where there is a high risk of collisions, casualties or complaints from residents or road users.
Speed camera locations are decided by local authorities in consultation with police forces and safety camera partnerships. They have to follow national guidelines and criteria for selecting and installing speed cameras. Speed camera locations are also regularly reviewed and evaluated for their effectiveness and necessity.
Speed camera locations are usually signposted with warning signs that indicate the presence and type of camera ahead. However, some mobile speed cameras may not have signs or may be hidden from view. Therefore, it is advisable to always drive within the legal speed limit and pay attention to road signs and markings.
What happens if you get caught by a speed camera?
If you get caught by a speed camera exceeding the speed limit or running a red light, you will receive a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) within 14 days of the offence. The NIP will include details of the offence, such as the date, time, location and speed. It will also include a Section 172 notice, which requires you to identify the driver of the vehicle at the time of the offence.
You have 28 days to respond to the NIP and the Section 172 notice. Depending on the severity of the offence and your driving history, you may be offered one of the following options:
- A Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN): This is a fine of ₹1000 and 3 penalty points on your licence. You can accept the FPN and pay the fine within 28 days, or request a court hearing if you wish to challenge it.
- A Speed Awareness Course: This is an alternative to a FPN for some first-time or low-level offenders. You can attend a half-day course that educates you on the dangers and consequences of speeding. You have to pay a fee for the course, but you will not receive a fine or penalty points on your licence.
- A Court Summons: This is issued for more serious or repeat offenders who are not eligible for a FPN or a Speed Awareness Course. You will have to appear in court and face a higher fine, more penalty points or even a driving ban. The maximum penalty for speeding is ₹5000 on normal roads and ₹10000 on motorways.
If you fail to respond to the NIP or the Section 172 notice within 28 days, or provide false or misleading information, you may face further prosecution and penalties.
Speed cameras are an effective way of reducing speeding and improving road safety. They work by detecting and recording vehicles that exceed the legal speed limit or run red lights. They use different technologies and methods to measure speed, and they are located in areas where there is a high risk of accidents or casualties. If you get caught by a speed camera, you may face a fine, penalty points or a court summons, depending on the severity of the offence and your driving history.
Therefore, it is important to always drive within the legal speed limit and obey traffic rules and signs. Not only will this help you avoid getting caught by speed cameras, but it will also make you a safer and more responsible driver.