Mobile speed cameras explained

There are many different types of mobile speed cameras in use on UK roads. These include:

‣mini gatso - similar to fixed position Gatso speed cameras
‣safety camera partnership teams
‣random police checks in marked or unmarked cars
‣radar guns - explained below
‣laser guns - explained below
‣DS2 - semi-permanent mobile speed cameras click here to read more.

How does a radar gun work?

Radar handheld devices use radio waves to target a vehicle. As a vehicle passes the radio waves these are reflected back at the radar receiver allowing the handheld radar gun to work out how fast the vehicle is traveling. The speed reading takes no less than 3 seconds for the police officer to acquire. The range of these systems is about 300 yards.

How does a laser gun work?

Laser handheld speed camera guns use a narrow beam of light about 10cm wide. This laser beam bounces from the target vehicle and provides the police officer with a speed reading. The speed is displayed within 0.5 seconds of use meaning speed camera detectors do not have long to warn you that laser is in use. The range of laser guns is about 1 mile.

Marked and unmarked Police cars

Although there are many devices at the Police's disposal to measure and record speed, they can also just use the speedometer fitted in their vehicle. If they suspect a speeding motorist then they can simply follow him or her for a minimum of 2/10 mile or 1056 feet to pull the motorist over and depending on the speed give a warning, issue a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) or for much higher speeds consider court action. This type of speed check is known as a 'follow check' and can be via a marked or unmarked Police cars. However, their speedometer must be certifiably calibrated correctly and regularly tested.

Speeding campaigns

Police officers in different counties across the UK often have a 'Speeding Campaign' of some form particularly during festive times when there are more motorists on the road and when people have busier schedules.

Residents of villages and communities are sometimes given laser guns to check the speed of motorists through their town or village. Though they cannot result in a prosecution the information will be passed on the police and could result in a warning letter being sent.

Points and Penalties

The absolute minimum penalty for being caught speeding on the UK's roads increased 66.7% in July 2013 from £60 to £100 fine. A minimum of 3 penalty points will also be added to your licence.

However, depending on the road speed limit and your actual recorded speed in the speeding offence a court summons may be generated in place of the Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) through the post. For more information click here.

Mobile locations

What's your view and experiences with mobile speed cameras? Tell us here or get involved with a live debate via our online forum.

Want to know where the UK's mobile speed camera trap are as you drive? Here at we have a UK database of speed camera locations. This database also includes Gatso, SpeedCurb, Truvelo, Truvelo D-Cam, SPECS, Peek, Traffic Light speed cameras and more. To read more about the speed camera types click here.

Mobile Speed Camera Questions and Answers

Question: Can a mobile bike officer catch you speed on the side in a lay-by? Or does it have to be in front?

Answer: It would all depend how the Police officer is monitoring and recording the speeding of passing motorists. He/she could be using a device such as handheld radar or laser gun, or could simply be using painted lines on the road. Painted lines are marked over a set distance e.g. 1 mile. These need to be visible to road safety officer who will simply need to time, it takes for a car, van, motorbike, etc to drive/ride from line 1 to line 2.

Question: Can a mobile unit still send a speeding ticket in the post or do they stop you on the spot?

Answer: If the Police/Safety Camera team have the means to record the offence e.g. via video, then they need not stop you at the side of the road on the spot.

Question: I have received a NIP. Speed limit 60mph. NIP States speed 86mph. Van on opposite side of road to me with camera pointing in direction I was travelling. Can the camera record my speed as I am driving away from the camera?

Answer: Yes, mobile speed cameras can accurately record/capture speeding motorists from the front, side and rear of both sides of a road or carriageway and from elevated spots e.g. a bridge.

Question: I have today received a NIP for doing 35mph in a 30mph fair cop or was it. The mobile unit was screened by a wall and was only visible as I was along side it as it was pointing down the road in the same direction I was travelling, I have read that the vehicle should be visible from 60metres this was the case as it was behind me once I passed it and at best was visible from 20metres before I passed it. Should I challenge it?

Ask your own question and read comments in general about speed cameras in the UK.

Speed camera alerts as you drive

Did you know you can be alerted to where Mobile and other speed cameras are along UK roads via in car devices? These systems include dedicated speed camera detectors, sat navs with speed camera locations and various apps for smartphones. To read more view our buyers guide which talks you through the various features and different technology the different systems use. We also have dedicated reviews for each product with user comments.

We also sell a range of speed camera detectors which you can browse via our online shop. We only stock systems that we consider will give you the best, most accurate, reliable and frequently updated speed camera databases. So whether you are a motorist, truck driver or caravanist you can rest assured you have the best speed camera warning system.

Click here to visit our online detector shop.

Last updated: 17th March 2015