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Wednesday, 20 June, 2001, 21:24 GMT 22:24 UK
Motorists face 'stealth' speed cameras
Speed camera
Conventional speed cameras have been criticised
Speeding motorists who rely on spotting cameras and other traps could be scuppered by a "stealth" speed detector.

A British firm has pioneered a camera which is hidden in a catseye and is hoping it will eventually replace conventional cameras.

The catseye cameras, developed by Kent-based firm Astucia, are already in use in America and south-east Asia.

Sales director Alan Mole, said: "We have no plans to develop in Britain at the moment but hope that following the success abroad, the Highways Agency will show interest and follow suit.

It would be incredibly expensive and easy to vandalise

Edmund King
RAC Foundation
"We are confident the system will satisfy British regulations."

Motoring organisations are sceptical about the solar powered cameras, which can gauge the precise speed of a passing car before taking two photographs and beaming the evidence to the police.

The AA recently criticised the "unreliable" way data from conventional speed cameras is processed.

The motoring organisation said that both computer and human error in processing had prompted an increase in the number of drivers wrongfully accused of speeding.

Deterrent factor

Andrew Howard from the AA said: "While we support new developments of speed cameras we believe the public should be aware of the cameras by way of signs.

"In this way they can act as deterrents."

The RAC Foundation's executive director Edmund King said: "We are not totally convinced by the idea and believe the company is a long way from introducing the idea to Britain - it would be incredibly expensive and easy to vandalise.

"It is better to deter potential speeders in accident black spots with visible signs rather than waiting for the accident to happen and then receiving a fixed penalty notice."

Road accidents

Roger Vincent, of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, told BBC News Online it was "early days" to judge whether the catseye cameras could help in the fight to reduce UK road deaths.

Mr Vincent said while cutting speeding would help reduce road accidents, new types of speed cameras should still be used primarily as a deterrent not a secret scourge.

He said: "People need to know they are there even if they are in catseyes. There should still be signs at the side of the road.

"We need to see what is being proposed and how people would use them in this country."

The Home Office said it was happy with its current speed camera system.

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28 Jul 00 | Scotland
Cash diversion cuts speed
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