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How to tell what cameras catch you speeding

By Tom Gibson | August 1, 2023


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There's thousands of roadside cameras in the UK but only around 50% are there to monitor speeding. Find out what camera serves what purpose here...

How to tell what cameras catch you speeding

Most drivers, at some stage, will worry if the camera they just spotted has done them for speeding.

But not all cameras are the same and many of them do not and cannot penalise drivers for speeding.

According to data from more than 40 British police forces, just over 50% of fixed speed cameras are actively used to manage speeding, with the majority of others there to track down criminals, manage traffic or simply collect data for public bodies.

Take a look here at the different type of cameras and what they’re used for.

Fixed Speed Cameras

We’ll start with the easy one. The fixed speed camera is almost always bright yellow or orange and has been with us since 1992. These are normally found in built up areas and on carriageways and are there to purely manage speed limits.

They are almost always rear facing so will largely only ever catch you when travelling away from one. Go over the allotted speed limit and no doubt you’ll be getting a letter in the post with either a fine or an invitation to a speed awareness course.

Average speed cameras

These usually yellow cameras are becoming increasingly common on smart motorways across the country and can be used to manage average speed over a large distance.

We all would’ve seen them in areas where roadworks are present too.

Contrary to common belief, these cameras will still work if you change lanes. Unlike fixed speed cameras, average cameras are usually forward facing.

Highways agency cameras

Highways Agency cameras are small, grey, CCTV cameras that are found all over the country, but they aren't there to catch out dangerous drivers.

They’re used to monitor traffic flow, assess accidents or incidents and are monitored 24/7 in control rooms across the UK.

They aren't equipped with speed radars or number plate recognition systems and are most commonly found on motorways and major A-roads.

Bus lane cameras

Smaller, more discreet cameras, these are there to catch motorists driving in designated bus lanes, usually found in town and city centres.

They are accompanied by signs warning of the use of bus lane cameras and, usually, come with a fine of between £60 and £90.

Police ANPR

Police Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras are used, as the names suggests, to track plates and help combat crime.

At a glance, they look similar to portable road traffic cameras but the clue is in the title.

They collect car registration data to track down offenders involved with local crime, organised crime or potential even terror-related activities.

They can also alert officers if a car is without an MOT, tax or insurance on a public road.

Police mobile cameras

Like the ANPR cameras, the mobile cameras are used from the rear of a van and are forward facing. They’re used to purely to catch speeding motorists.

They can appear at any location police deem fit and operate 24-hours a day.

Highways Agency ANPR

These green cameras don’t look too dissimilar from average speed cameras and are often found mounted to motorway signage, like their yellow cousins.

They’re fitted by the Highways Agency and aren’t used to issue speeding fines, but instead to monitor traffic levels and journey times.

While the cameras do use a vehicle's registration to gather data, number plate readings aren't stored, and no images of cars or drivers are taken.

Traffic light cameras

Traffic light cameras catch motorists who run red lights.

They can be attached directly to the lights themselves or operate as a standalone alongside traffic signals and detect cars that pass over the advanced stop lines while the lights are red.

If you are caught, the camera will usually flash as it takes a photo of your car, and you will receive a £100 fine. You may also start seeing ‘speed on green’ cameras that are being introduced to catch motorists who desperately try to make it through the lights. Keep your eyes peeled for those…

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