How do speed cameras in the UK work?

There’s no doubt that our nation is divided on speed cameras. Like them or loathe them, they are here to stay, implemented with the aim of bringing down the number of motorists exceeding speed limits and improving road safety.

Perhaps you’ve been caught out by a speed camera in the past? If so, depending on how fast you were driving over the limit, you might have been fined, received points on your licence, attended a speed awareness course or been banned from driving altogether.

If you’re now looking to get back on the road following a speeding offence, or any other motoring offence for that matter, the Insurance Factory can help.

We can arrange convicted driver insurance on your behalf, with your policy packed with all the benefits and features of standard car insurance.

We’ll take into account your individual circumstances when finding a policy, and we strive to be as competitive as possible with pricing.

Now, let’s test your knowledge of speed cameras in the UK…

A yellow speed camera at a roadside with green leafy trees behind it

What are the most common speed cameras in the UK?

Gatso and Truvelo. Heard of these names before? As AutoExpress explains, these are the two main types of fixed speed camera used in the UK.

The Gatso (short for Gatsometer) is the most popular camera, easily identified by its bright yellow paint, which is required by law.

Gastos are typically mounted on poles at the side of the road and are rear-facing, allowing them to take images of speeding vehicles from behind (and without dazzling drivers).

Gasto cameras use radar to detect the speed of vehicles, though law requires a secondary proof of speeding.

That’s why you see lines on the road near the cameras – the dashes are equally spaced and are used to gauge distance over time, so it can be determined whether or not a driver has broken the speed limit.

Truvelo cameras are similarly painted yellow and mounted on a pole. The difference is that most Truvelos are forward-facing, using a filter on the camera to make sure the flashes don’t dazzle drivers.

Because they’re forward-facing, Truvelo cameras can be used to identify the driver of a speeding car. This may come in handy when, for instance, multiple people are insured on one car.

The past few years have seen the traditional Truvelo evolve into the Truvelo D-Cam. It’s essentially a digital version of the Truvelo that can be rear or forward facing. It can also be installed at traffic lights and has the potential to monitor three lanes at once.

Some other speed cameras you may see on your travels include:
  • Mobile speed cameras – operated by police officers from a van usually parked at the side of the road.
  • HADECS speed cameras – used mainly on smart motorways with the capability of recording five lanes of traffic.
  • Average speed cameras – these come in different types but all monitor drivers between two set points to make sure they aren’t speeding.
  • Traffic light cameras – some speed cameras double up as traffic light cameras to catch drivers committing offences  like running a red light.

How are the vehicle and driver identified?

Some cameras work using radar technology, while others assess speed by detectors in the road.

If you drive past a camera too fast it will take an image of your vehicle, recording its make, model, colour and registration plate number (and an image of the driver if it’s a forward-facing camera).

It also records things like the time and date, the road’s speed limit and the speed at which you were driving.

The car’s registration plate will then be checked against the DVLA’s records to locate the registered address of the driver.

A speed camera sign on pole next to slip road to a busy bridge

What happens if you’re caught by a speed camera?

Think you were flashed? As the Gov.UK website notes, if a camera catches you speeding then you’ll either receive a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) or a section 172 notice.

If you get a 172 notice, you’re required to complete and return it within 28 days, informing the police who was driving the vehicle at the time.

Ignore the notice and you might end up in court. If you own the car but weren’t driving it at the time, you’ll need to provide the name and address of the driver who was in control of the car at the time.

Once you’ve sent the 172 notice back, you’ll receive either a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) or a letter telling you that you need to go to court.

Drivers who receive an FPN can plead guilty or not guilty. Admit to speeding and you’ll be given a £100 fine and three penalty points.

That is, unless you’re offered to go on a speed awareness course. How you pay the fine depends on where you were caught speeding.

Your driving licence will have a code on it for four years and you may have to give details of this offence when taking out convicted driver insurance.

If you plead not guilty, then you’ll be summoned to court. Just bear in mind that you could receive a higher fine and more penalty points if the court decides that you are, in fact, guilty.

This fine depends on the speed limit of the road and the speed you were driving, and is typically a percentage of your weekly earnings up to a maximum of £1,000 (or £2,000 if you were caught on a motorway).

Can you say someone else was driving?

No. Lying about who was driving at the time a camera caught your car speeding is an offence that could carry serious implications. It could lead to a criminal conviction.

Convicted driver insurance from the Insurance Factory

Drivers may think of speed cameras as a bugbear, but they are designed to make people think twice about speeding (which increases the risk of accidents) and hopefully, adjust their driving behaviour.

And that means safer roads for everyone.

Remember, if you’re looking to get back on the road following a speeding or other driving offence, the Insurance Factory can set you up with a convicted driver insurance policy. Get a quote today!