Page last updated at 15:27 GMT, Thursday, 9 October 2008 16:27 UK

Tougher speed cameras 'due soon'

Speed camera
About 35 local authorities have expressed interest in the cameras

A new generation of speed cameras that makes it harder for motorists to avoid being caught may soon get government approval, the manufacturers have said.

Geoff Collins of Speed Check Services said approval was now in the "end game" stage and some 35 local authorities had expressed an interest in the system.

It uses a network of cameras to work out average speed over a wide area.

Pressure group the Association of British Drivers (ABA) said the plans were "completely irrelevant to safety".

The Home Office and the Department of Transport said they could not comment until approval had been given.

Networked

Installation of the cameras will be dependent on whether the Home Office approves them, and whether local authorities decide to have them introduced.

The new cameras will not affect speeding fines.

Under the current system, one camera - the entry camera - films the vehicle's number plate as it enters a controlled zone and starts a timer.

HOW THE SPEED CAMERAS WORK
Average speed camera info-graphic
1 All routes in and out of zone covered by cameras, linked to control centre
Camera logs number plate and time as car enters zone
2 Data passed to central hub
3 Another camera logs number plate and time on exit from zone
Central hub uses data to calculate speed, and if limit exceeded, fine notice issued to driver

When it leaves the zone, the exit camera films both the car and its number plate.

If there is a match with the entry camera, the speed is calculated, and if the speed limit is exceeded the evidence is passed on to the police.

The new system works in a similar way, but with the difference being that there is a web of cameras, with the number plate and time recorded by each one and fed back to a central hub.

The hub then finds the motorist's average speed by calculating how long it has taken for the car to travel between any two cameras in the network.

Any camera within the network can record a start and an end time.

Geoff Collins, sales and marketing director with Speed Check Services (SCS), the firm producing the technology, said it would cut down on accidents and improve traffic flow.

He told the BBC News website: "The main and over-arching benefits are the same as the old technology, which I hope are very well documented: casualty reductions and traffic flow.

'Disgraceful'

But, he added, the new technology is also "going to solve regional and local problems".

"It addresses a route, rather than an accident black spot".

The new cameras can work in a network of up to 50 and can be spaced up to 15 miles (24km) apart.

There have so far been two police trials of the technology - one completed successfully, another not yet concluded, said Mr Collins.

He said he hoped that approval would come from the government in January, but that this was not yet certain.

But, he added: "You only do the police testing and the track testing when they're ready to go, so this is the end game."

Mr Collins said there had so far been interest from about 35 local authorities.

But Nigel Humphries of the ABA described the proposals as "disgraceful".

He told the BBC News website: "We think that this gives the lie to the idea that they are used at accident black-spots - measuring someone's speed over a long distance is completely irrelevant to safety.

"It's even worse in an urban area where people are going along with their eye on the speedometer and not on the prevailing road conditions.

"The whole thing goes against arguments that people used to justify speed cameras in the past.

"The whole thing is a nonsense."

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: "Whether to use safety cameras - and if so which sort of camera - are decisions for local road safety partnerships."

A Home Office spokesperson said: "It is our policy not to give any details out about cameras that are going through type approval.

"This is commercially sensitive information and we cannot disclose it. Once any decision has been made this will be announced."




SEE ALSO
How do average speed cameras work?
17 Oct 07 |  Magazine
Cameras reduce collisions on A14
12 Aug 08 |  Cambridgeshire
'Average speed' camera scheme
19 May 08 |  England

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