Smile For The Speed Camera

Smile for the Camera, or not

Many drivers in the UK today, will not be conversant with George Orwell’s book, 1984, many will, however, recognise the phrase “Orwellian”. However it may reasonably be applied to the use of the speed camera on British roads.

The dictionary definition of this is “an adjective describing a situation, idea, or social condition that George Orwell identified as being destructive to the welfare of a free and open society”. Into the freedom of driving on the open road, enter the remote fixed speed camera.

There are conditions which may justify the instalment of safety cameras, particularly in urban areas such as around schools, or heavily built up districts, and there are those cameras which appear for no apparent reason other than potentially to relieve the driver of at least £100, and collect three points on the license.

The camera probably most recognisable is the Gatso camera, which has been adorning our roadsides since the early nineties. When it, along with other types of fixed camera were first installed at this time, they were a subtle shade of grey, but successive protesting saw a change in the law.

Around the turn of the millennium all fixed roadside cameras had to be coated high visibility yellow which still applies today, except, it would seem, on the new “smart” motorways.

The Gatso uses radar technology to determine a vehicle’s speed and type, and activate its camera relative to whether it is an HGV or car, or a car towing a trailer, as each carry different speed limits.

If the vehicle triggers the camera, it takes pictures of the rear number plate and another of the surrounding road surface.

The road surface carries a number of white lines against which the vehicles speed can be double checked against the radar reading.

It takes pictures at the rear, because it employs flash photography, which if taken at front of the vehicle could startle, if not temporarily blind a driver.

This can lead to disputes over who was actually at the wheel at the time, possibly even allowing a measure of “wiggle movement” for the driver. If you want to find out what options you have defending your speeding offence, ask a free question and you will be armed with the best defence. There is unfortunately no such thing with the next most populous camera type, the Truvelo.

This machine takes pictures of the front of the vehicle showing the registration plate, the type of vehicle, and the driver behind the wheel, get out of that one!

The Truvelo uses flash photography, but with infra-red light which is not visible to the human eye, meaning not only is there no question of who is behind the wheel, you won’t have time to smile as you’re snapped!