RAC Cars News


Traffic Camera Cornucopia In Britain

By raccars Published

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British motorists have learned to accept that there are cameras watching and recording their every move, but did you realise that there are actually 20 different kinds of cameras monitoring speed, number plates and other information?

Some of these gather data for analysis, to manage the flow of traffic, some are helping police to catch criminals. If you drive British roads, you will no doubt be familiar with the following:


The well known rear facing radar cameras are designed to trap speeding drivers and are found countrywide, particularly in areas deemed to be accident black spots.


A front facing speed camera which uses road embedded sensors to monitor speed and takes photos from the front, to identify the driver. These are found mostly in the Home Counties and the Midlands.

Truvelo D-Cam

A more modern version of the original Truvelo, which works by laser and uses wireless to transmit the information it gathers to a central office. The digital technology is lower maintenance than traditional Gatso cameras, for which the film used needs to be regularly changed. These are starting to penetrate West Yorkshire and soon to be found elsewhere.

Speed Spike

Being trialled in Hampshire, these speed cameras use automatic number plate recognition. The 1,000 units in place can communicate with each other to track a motorist on his whole journey.

Mobile cameras

Used by police officers sitting in lay-bys or mounted in vans. These have been taking motorists by surprise countrywide for years.

Hadecs 3

The Highways Agency introduced these last year, allegedly to smooth the flow of traffic. However, critics claim they are big money makers which work as average speed cameras. Painted grey, they are much harder to identify than the traditional yellow units. The Hadecs 3 can cover several lanes of traffic at once and monitor speed with a laser. Currently found on the M25, with more planned for the M3, M1 and the M6.


Gantry mounted automatic number plate recognition cameras which can cover four lanes at once, the SPECS takes a picture of every single car passing beneath it. These images are sent to the next SPECS camera down the road, at least 200 metres away, to monitor average speed. Found countrywide, an infra-red system means they work 24 hours per day and even in bad weather conditions.


A nationwide system that transmits traffic data to sat nav systems using its software. Trafficmaster is run by a private firm, which does not pass speeding data to police forces.

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