US Should Beware Of Average Speed Check Cameras

By Isabella Woods, Guest Author from (DR 10 Insurance)

Average speed check cameras have caught on in Europe so it may only be a matter of time before we see them in United States. It’s easy to locate regular speed cameras and remember to slow down at the right time to avoid a ticket. It’s much harder to remember to keep your speed in check between two cameras, especially if they are placed several miles apart.

Average speed check cameras operate in pairs and calculate your average speed over a distance. They also capture your license plate number and report a violation if your average calculated speed is above posted limits.

European Efforts

The Netherlands were the first to use Trajectcontrole, a fixed average speed check system. Section Control in Austria came soon after, followed by Italy’s Safety Tutor and Australia’s Safe-T-Cam. Obviously company marketers spent plenty of time giving these systems pleasant, safety-related names. But don’t be fooled; they’re just another way to tax drivers and have nothing to do with promoting safety.

The British Example

In Britain, the SPECS (Speed Check Services) system is used widely, yet drivers haven’t fully realized how it works. The fines just keep dropping into the mailbox. Made by Vysionics Intelligent Traffic Solutions, these systems can detect your speed twice from a minimum of 660 feet to a maximum of 6.2 miles.

The first camera records your front (or rear) license plate number using automatic number plate recognition (ANPR). After traveling an exact distance to the next camera location, your vehicle is tagged again while the second camera records your travel time and works out your average speed. Unfortunately, because they use infrared photography, theses cameras can track you both by day and by night.

While average speed check cameras operate in pairs, it’s not known if multiple cameras along a greater distance could take several readings to confirm the driver’s average speed. This could lead to entire journeys being under the eagle eye of the yellow vultures — as they’ve been named in the UK.

Originally motorists thought they could change lanes to avoid the camera’s detection systems. Unfortunately, the manufacturers say they have closed that loophole and changing lanes to avoid the fine won’t make any difference as the cameras can share the data collected.

Residential Area Trials

British average speed cameras were originally set to operate on busy highways. Following a “successful trial,” they will now be introduced to residential areas. In the trial, the cameras were installed outside a school. Unlike the United States, the UK has no system of lower speeds near schools or the need to stop for a school bus. Before the cameras went live for fine purposes, they averaged 64 drivers an hour traveling over the speed limit. Since the cameras have been turned on, the number has dropped to 16 per hour.

The six month trial included new signage to inform drivers they were approaching a zone where average speed cameras were located. Of course, with digital technology the cameras can remain on at all times, but even if they are switched off from time to time, the warning signs might be sufficient for drivers to reduce their speeds outside school — a common sense approach which many drivers will take.

The Real Issue

Average speed check cameras highlight the issue of matching safe driving with the actual speed limits. We all know that driving along a busy highway at rush hour can be dangerous at almost any speed, but driving faster at midnight on a clear road with good weather conditions means that drivers can be safe and enjoy their drive.

Let’s face it, we don’t need average speed check cameras; what we need are sensible and flexible maximum speed limits for modern vehicles. The technology is available to change a road’s speed limit as needed. On some London roadways, speed limits change to reflect the amount of traffic on the road. This technology is available now. Cynics would say that a flexible driving speed might save drivers a lot of heartache as well as money, but it won’t generate speeding ticket revenue for local or state coffers.

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