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Gatso speed cameras explained

Since the introduction of speed cameras on Britain's roads in 1992, it's the Gatsometer BV speed camera which has become the most commonly used camera on the UK's roads. Though some counties such as Northamptonshire and Hampshire favour Truvelo cameras instead. Plus, Norfolk have recently changed a number of their old Gatso cameras for the new Truvelo D-Cam.

Back in 1992 when Gatsos and other speed cameras were first introduced they were all painted grey, then a change in the law in 2001 saw all speed or "safety" cameras change to be painted bright yellow to ensure visibility at the roadside.

New Digital Gatso Speed Camera

New digital Gatso speed cameras were introduced onto the UK's roads in 2007. These new Gatso cameras are considerable larger than original Gatsometer's and are now completely digital, eliminating the need for film to be retrieved by the Police/camera operator. This means the new digital Gatsometer will no longer run out of film so they will always be active.

This new Gatso has also been designed to "fit and forget." It is described like this because it does not require the speed camera to be lowered for maintenance. These Gatso speed cameras are popular across London and are increasingly replacing old 'wet film' Gatsos across the UK.

Like the original Gatso, the new digital Gatso is rear-facing and uses radar technology, so if you are using a radar detector you will detect these speed cameras. You will also be alerted to these Gatsos using a GPS speed camera detector.

How does Gatso camera work?

Gatso speed cameras use radar technology to measure how fast a vehicle is travelling and to trigger the camera into action. If a motorist is driving above the road speed limit then two photos are then taken in quick succession. The Gatso uses a powerful flash to show the rear of the vehicle, its registration plate, and white painted calibration lines on the roads surface.

Gatso speed cameras are always rear facing. The reason for this is that the speed cameras 'flash' will not blind oncoming motorists. However, this also means that the speed camera may not be visible until the last second (as pictured right - Gatso sited behind road traffic sign).

It is a legal requirement to have a secondary measurement for speed. This is why at every Gatso speed camera location there are white lines painted on the road. The distance between each line represents between 5mph so there can be no dispute over how fast you were driving. If there is any dispute over whether the radar technology captured the correct speed of the vehicle that was speeding the white lines are there as a secondary measurement.

Gatso can differentiate between different speed limits for different vehicles. For example cars, caravans and HGV's have different speed limits and the camera will measure the vehicles length and impose the correct speed limit for each vehicle.

The fixed Gatso uses a reel of film to record photos to. The film can soon run out in busy areas.

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 with the code SP10, SP20, SP30, SP40 or SP50. For more information click here.

Caught on film by a Gatso speed camera

Pictured below a motorist is caught and photographed speeding by a Gatso camera. The road speed limit for the dual carriageway is 70mph. The driver is captured driving at 80mph.

The first (top) image (below) depicts the moment the Gatso's radar technology is triggered into action by the speeding vehicle. Radar technology is the primary calculation method for determining the speed of the vehicle (in this case 80mph).

Milliseconds later a second photograph is taken (second/bottom image) by the Gatso speed camera. This second photo is used by police/speed camera operators as a secondary confirmation of the target vehicles speed. The police will look how far the photographed vehicle has travelled between the two photos by viewing the number of white lines the vehicle has crossed/reached.

Had another vehicle been in lane one of the dual carriageway and driving at say 60mph, this secondary measurement would have determined who was and wasn't speeding.

Video of Gatso speed camera

Can Gatsos catch you speeding on the opposite side of the road?

The Gatso meter speed camera is a rear facing camera and as such can only succesfully obtain a vehicles speed when driving past the Gatso. In other words if a Gatso speed camera is on the opposite side of the road and is pointing towards you it cannot record or catch you speeding. However be sure you're driving towards a Gatso and not the forward facing Truvelo camera as these are designed to work as a motorist drives towards them! It's also worth noting that Gatso's which are installation on a central reservation of traffic island can be turned periodically to target motorists traveling in either direction.

Where are Gatsos used?

Gatso speed cameras are mainly in the form of a permanently installed unit. Gatso safety cameras can be installed to poles and existing street furniture. Gatso can also measure the length of vehicles for which there are different speed limits. Each Gatso speed camera costs approximately £20,000 to install. However they can cost as much as £40,000 if they are located in a rural location, as the system requires a 240v power supply.

These include fixed installations at the side of the road, mobile speed camera vehicles (both parked and moving) and overhead gantries on motorways such as the M25.

Gatso can be used in a vehicle too. Speed measurement can be monitored in both directions of travel from a parked or moving vehicle.

Gatso speed cameras are often used in roadwork's. These speed cameras work on a integrated battery which can last up to a week. Gatso can also be used on a tripod as a mini gatso. These systems work on a lightweight battery offering 8 hours of continuous operation.

It used to be the case that speed cameras had to be located in accident black spots. However, since 2007 these requirements have been removed. The Gatsos must be visible and clearly signposted though. A motorist asked whether a speed camera can be installed on a road near him, read his question and our reply here.

Pictured below new digital Gatsometer speed camera. The camera pictured below replaced an old (orignal) Gatso camera on Longden Road, Shrewsbury, Shropshire.

New digital Gatso speed camera

Gatso Speed Camera Questions and Answers

Question: Do gatso speed cameras still flash even when they have ran out of film? Also how many hours a day are they active as I read in a comment that they are only active for 8hrs a day?

Answer: Gatso speed cameras that use wet film do run out. However, an increasing number of Gatso speed cameras in the UK no longer use wet film, but instead use digital cameras and a hard drive, meaning they NEVER run out and can operate 24/7.

Question: The other morning I went past a Gatso speed camera at bang on 25mph in a 30mph limit. My company car is tracker fitted and has a GPS speed reading more accurate than the cars speedo! The camera was on my side of the road, facing the rear of my vehicle. However, there was a van on the opposite side approaching the camera, i.e. facing it and he set it off as he was speeding. What worries me is that I was in its range when it went off and on the dashed white lines!

This is the camera that flashed twice is pictured below:

Will the painted lines exonerate me?

Fairly sure I'm OK, but it is worrying me. My company go ape when it comes to speeding although I know I was not!

Answer: Yes, the painted lines will exonerate you. They are used as a secondary measure in exactly these circumstances.

Question: Given that there are a lot of the old Gatso cameras remaining on UK roads, often they are just empty boxes left as a deterrent. Are any of these old Gatso boxes fitted with more modern technology.If this was the case then maybe an old style Gatso box, albeit theoretically updated, could record the speed of an approaching vehicle as well as one from behind. I realise that you do not operate cameras but I would value your opinion.

Answer: Wet film Gatso speed cameras are being replaced in many cases by digital Gatso speed cameras.

Fixed point speed cameras are in many counties in decline, with Police forces opting to install average speed cameras in their place. Catching more motorists over a set distance e.g. 1 mile, rather than just 10 metres of road.

Question: I received a speeding ticket stating I was doing 41mph. I requested photo evidence that show I travelled 4.5 lines approx. Can you advise the distance between the lines so I can check speed travelling? As your website you states each line represents 5mph that puts me inside speed limit of 30mph and I know I was not doing 41mph as ticket states.

Answer: We don’t have that information I’m afraid. You will need to speak to the Police force who issued you with the NIP. The distance between painted white lines can differ from camera location to camera location. Each speed camera will have its own calibration certificate. This certificate will have the information you require.

Question: Will an old style GATSO camera always flash if your exceeding the speed limit? Drove through temporary road works and all the vehicles were going over the 40 limit on a dual carriageway where you normally do 70? Camera never flashed.

Answer: Gatso speed cameras require a 240v power supply to work. Often in roadwork’s you will see a large generator next to the Gatso speed camera which is used to power it. If there was no power to the Gatso, this could explain why the camera wasn’t operating? However, SpeedCamerasUK.com is not connected with any UK Police or other local authority. We don’t run, install or operate any speed camera - we just list where they are and information about them. So our answer is purely speculative.

Question: I was driving towards a Gatso camera on Eccles Old Road in Salford. The camera was on the other side in a 30mph zone, however I was doing 40mph+. I'm not sure if it flashed because it was a sunny day. Just wanted you to confirm whether that only catches the rear of my car or whether it also catches me front on?

Answer: Fixed Gatso speed camera = captures rear of vehicle only.

Question: I was in my own world when I saw the speed camera and white markings. It's a gatsco camera rear facing camera. It is a 30mph zone, I was doing 39mph. I braked hard and by the second line I was close to 30mph. Am I judged by the first line or second line. I waited for the camera to flash, but could not see it. Do all cameras flash, and are they easy to see during day time? Do they flash on the first or last Line?

Answer: Gatso speed cameras are triggered via built-in radar technology - driving too fast triggers the camera into action. If you didn’t see a double flash, then it is unlikely that you triggered the camera by your speed.

Question: On the M4 Westbound just before Bristol... I saw a flash (like the old Gatsos) its was 2am and not fully paying attention.. could have been another light source. I was doing more than 70mph... do the overhead gantry type  "Flash"? Thanks.

Answer: Yes they do flash! In most cases Gatso speed cameras are used in the overhead gantries in variable speed limit check sections of road.

Question: This morning I was flashed twice by a speed camera on my way to work. It was on the opposite side of the road facing towards me.  There were no other cars on the road and lines on both sides of the road. I was doing approx 10mph over the limit. Do I need to be worried?

Answer: The speed camera you triggered is a Gatso speed camera. Gatso cameras are calibrated to record the rear of a passing vehicle, as you were driving towards it. Therefore, you should have nothing to worry about.

Question: Why does a Gatso camera on Burnham Road Dartford Kent flash when your coming towards it traveling westbound?

Answer: One possible reason could be that the camera is faulty. However, if you could send us a photo of the speed camera we can identify which lane(s) of traffic are targeted by the camera.

Question: I have just received a speeding fine/driver awareness course as I was caught by a camera on Waterhouse Lane Chelmsford Essex (camera EEE045). However I was driving towards the camera which I believe to be a Gatso type. There are no road markings on the side of the road I was on. I Could you please tell me if the Police can pursue this as all they have said is there is sufficient evidence.

Answer: The Police should be able to provide you with photographic evidence of the offence. Please ask for this and if you are willing and able please send us the photo too. If you can also take and send a photo of the actual speed camera (as it is located at the roadside) we will be able to confirm which lane(s) of traffic are targeted by the camera.

Question: I was driving towards a Gatso the other day it was on the other side of the road facing me, but on my side of the road. There was no white line and I was doing 50mphish in a 30mph that goes up to 40mph, stupid of me I know. On the way towards the Gatso it flashed twice as I was getting closer, it was definitely me who set it off as no other driver was around. Shall I expect a letter in the post or not? If not could you explain why please? I did read the description about the Gatso on the website, but did not fully understand.

Answer: Gatso speed cameras capture speeding motorists from the rear of speeding vehicle, they are what is known as a ‘rear facing’ camera.

If it was a Gatso speed camera and your were travelling towards it, then the camera would not have been able to record your vehicles speed.

If however it was a forward facing Truvelo speed camera (pictured right) then it would have been able to record your vehicles speed. Truvelo and Truvelo D-Cam are what are known as ‘forward facing’ cameras.

Question: Do all Gatso speed cameras have to have the white lines painted on the road? I ask, as I went past one the other day and there were no white lines on the road, so will that camera not be in use?

Answer: The white lines are used as a secondary measure to record speed. It has been known that these are not always used/required to make a successful prosecution.

Question: I went through a fixed speed camera not digital and was doing roughly 40mph. The camera was down being worked by two camera operatives. Despite this it still flashed me and then I received an ticket to say I was speeding doing 60mph in a 40mph zone!! Surely the speed camera can't be active when it has been lowered to remove the film or to be worked on? Is it able to still run and be reliable calibrated when its meant to be up the pole?

Answer: While we don't offer legal offer, my advice would be to contact the prosecuting Police authority and ask them for photographic evidence of the speeding offence.

Question: I was driving past a new Gatso speed camera, the camera was on the other side of the road and facing towards me and it flashed just before I went past, their are white markings on the other side of the road only. Will I receive a fine? Also, even if I was slightly on the other side of the road could they use the markings to prove I was speeding?

Answer: Gatso speed cameras target motorists from the rear of their vehicle. If you were driving towards the Gatso then you have nothing to worry about.

Gatso cameras can be turned periodically to targets motorists heading in the opposite direction, but always from the rear. Other speed cameras such as Truvelo, VECTOR and SPECS target motorists from the front of their vehicle.

White markings or lines painted onto the roads surface are used as a secondary measure to record your vehicles speed.

Question: I got flashed by a GATSO last night, I stupidly swerved into the opposite lane (was 3:30 in the morning on an open road so was safe to do so) to try avoid it but there was still a flash. I was wondering if I still would have got caught? Can the camera pick up both lanes?

While waiting to take the photo below, a vehicle went up and also got flashed but I noticed by the time the second flash went off it may have been out of the cameras sights so to speak. Any info or help would be appreciated.

Answer: We cannot say, however, what we can is Gatso speed cameras rely on the painted white lines on the roads surface to aid in and to make a successful prosecution.

If you have been caught going through the Gatso speed camera, a NIP (Notice of Intended Prosecution) is normally sent out to the vehicles registered keeper within 14 working days.

Question: I was travelling up Haselmere Road just outside Midhurst in West Sussex at approx 06:35 9th December 2016. The limit posted is 40mph and I had literally changed gears to gain a bit more pull going up hill coming out of the 30mph zone before and the camera flashed me, when I looked on the sat nav I was on 43mph. Seeing as there are no speed lines in the up lane is there a chance I'm going to get a fine?

While waiting to take the photo below, a vehicle went up and also got flashed but I noticed by the time the second flash went off it may have been out of the cameras sights so to speak. Any info or help would be appreciated.

Answer: Thanks for sending the photo, much easier to answer a question with a photo.

The speed camera is a Gatso and will ONLY target vehicles coming down the hill, so vehicles on the nearside to the camera from the rear. If you were on the opposite side of the road approaching the camera head on, you have nothing to worry about.

Speed cameras have been known to trigger and capture motorists at just a few mph over the speed limit, so 43mph in a 40mph might be enough. The decision to prosecute is decided by the Police force where the speed camera is located.

Question: Someone I know says where there are white lines painted on both sides of the road near a speed camera it is so the camera can catch a speeding driver even when he crosses over to the wrong side of the road to avoid it.

Another person says the camera can take a photograph on either side, I can't see how this could work without turning the camera around.

I have just read on your site the camera takes a picture of the rear of the vehicle, it can be turned around sometimes, but usually the white lines on the wrong side of the road act mainly as a deterrent.

Could you clarify. Can a camera take a picture where white lines appear on both sides of the road in either direction?

Answer: It would depend upon the camera in use. However, a single sited speed camera e.g. Gatso can ONLY target vehicles travelling in one single direction. The camera needs to be calibrated to catch motorists, the painted white lines are used a secondary measure to record the passing vehicles speed.

White lines painted on both sides of the road would either be used as a bluff – to slow traffic down in both directions, or so that the camera can be periodically turned to catch motorists in wither direction at different times.

There is one exception to this, for example a dual headed speed camera with one camera targeting traffic heading direction in one direction and another for vehicles headed in the opposite direction.

Question: So I got flashed by a Gatso camera tonight, but I was facing the camera? With my full beams on? So will be prosecuted?

Answer: Gatso speed cameras target the rear of a vehicle capturing all the data they require. Truvelo speed cameras and other types target the front of a vehicle.

Question: I recently received a speeding ticket and just wanted to ask your advice on it as I was driving a hire car at the time and i am not convinced it was me driving when the camera picked the speeding up. I believe the camera was a Gatso, can these catch you if you do not drive past them? The camera is situated basically just past the entrance to the car garage on the right hand side of the road. I was driving (with the camera facing me) on the left hand side of the road and pulled into the garage before passing the camera. I highly doubt I was driving 41mph just before turning left into the garage itself. Could the camera catch me driving towards it from further up the road? I read somewhere that they catch the driver from the rear but in my case they wouldn't have seen the rear of the car as i drove into the garage with the hire car and then out of it in my own car.

If you could let me know your thoughts that would be great, chances are it was me but i just wanted to do some research before.

Answer: SpeedCamerasUK.com is not connected with any UK Police or other local authority. We don't run, install or operate any speed camera - we just list where they are and information about them.

I would recommend you contact the Police force where the speeding offence took place and ask them for evidence including date and time of the offence. You can then prove or disprove that the hired vehicle was or wasn't in your possession and under your responsibility.

Question: If you are speeding at night and you are driving towards a gasto speed camera which is facing you and it flashes when your near the camera it self and no lines on your side of the road has it caught you speeding

Answer: It would all depend how the Gatso speed camera was calibrated, however Gatso's target vehicles from the rear. So if you were driving towards the camera and it was facing you, the chances are it wasn't calibrated to target your vehicle.

If you have been caught speeding by the sign, a NIP (Notice of Intended Prosecution) is normally sent out to the vehicles registered keeper within 14 working days.

For future driving you might like to consider buying a speed camera detector, for more information please see Speed Camera Detector Buyer's Guide.

Question: This morning the Gatso camera WMST044 in Brocton A34 (Staffordshire) flashed twice while I was passing by in the opposite direction. I read you cannot be caught when driving towards the camera. My question is why there are also white lines in the other side of the road? The white lines are on the side where the camera is installed and also in the other side.

Answer: White lines are often painted on the road on both sides as some Gatso cameras can be turned periodically to catch motorists in the other direction. Sometimes though, they are painted simply to slow motorists down on both sides of the road. With motorists thinking they could be caught. The Gatso camera will certainly only be calibrated to catch vehicles driving away from the camera lenses.

Question: I had a camera flash once from the front while I was driving on Gateshead Road towards South Shields and the speed limit is 40mph and I was driving about 38mph. Now my concern is, was this flash for me? If it is how much will be the fine? I have attached an image of the camera type. Hope I will get a reply soon. Thanks you.

Answer: Gatso speed cameras target and capture motorists when driving away from the camera, they capture the rear number plate.

If you were driving towards the camera, flash from the front, you have nothing to worry about.

Gatso cameras have been known to flash by themselves for no apparent reason.

Watch the video below for another example:

Question: I've received a speed fine from a speed camera location in Telford, Shropshire (pictured below), however although I could have only gone through 2 or 4 of the little white lines before turning right where the red mini is. Could it be that I was caught when parked in the layby that someone else activated the camera, as I can't see how I would be doing 35mph when slowing to turn so close to the speed camera?

Answer: I don't believe that would be the case. However I would voice your concerns to the Police force/Safety Camera Partnership that has issued the speeding fine.

Follow up: Just to let you know I rang up the safer road partnership I was in the layby when a biker went past and the ANPR took my registration they have cancelled the speeding ticket.

Subsequent reply: I'm really surprised to read that you were caught falsely by a Gatso speed
camera. Gatso's use two methods to record the speed of a passing vehicle - 1. radar
technology to trigger the camera and 2. the lines in the road confirm the
passing vehicles speed. If however your vehicle was static then they'd know you weren't speeding.

Media coverage: I've had lots of coverage from all the papers and radio stations as well as
news associations ring, it's obviously good news for them. Read ITV 's coverage of the story.

Question: I was caught driving past a Fixed Gatso speed camera which was half way down its column during the calibration process. The light flashed so I turned and took photos of the camera with the service technician. I was issued with a speeding fine for traveling at 46MPH in a 40MPH zone. Can you advise me if the camera has to be at the top of the column in its intended height to give an accurate speed reading?

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

Question: I was driving on the A1 going towards Berwick upon Tweed when the GATSO speed Camera on the other side of the road flashed. I have received a fixed penalty notice. Is this correct?

Answer: Gatos speed cameras use two methods to capture and record speeding motorists.

The first is via the speed cameras technology, which in the case of Gatso is via radar. When a motorist/vehicle passes the camera too fast the speed camera is set off or triggered to take the necessary photo(s).

The second is to use the white markings on the road. In the case of a Gatso camera two photos in quick succession are taken. Using the white markings on the road, the vehicles speed can also be calculated.

So evidence would be available proving or disproving that you were speeding at the time you passed the Gatso speed camera on the A1 near Berwick-Upon-Tweed.

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

Gatso locations

What's your view and experiences with GATSO speed cameras? Tell us here.

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

Speed camera alerts as you drive

Did you know you can be alerted to where Gatso 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: 28th November 2017