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SPECS Average Speed Cameras Explained

SPECS average speed camera systems utilise state of the art video system with Automatic Number Plate Reading (ANPR) digital technology. Each SPECS camera is features infra red illuminators fitted on gantries above the road, so they can work day or night 24/7.

SPECS speed cameras are located in multiple (at least 2 at a minimum of 200 metres apart) locations along a single stretch of road for monitoring your average speed along that particular road. So unlike other fixed speed cameras which capture your speed at a certain point in the road, SPECS average speed camera work and track you speed over a set distance, which may be serveral miles! The shortest average speed check zone in the UK is located on Trewennack, Cornwall and is just less than a half a mile long. While the longest average speed camera zone in the UK can be found on the A9 in Scotland between Dunblane and Inverness and covers some 99 miles!

In 2013, some 127 miles of UK roads were covered by average speed cameras, however by 2016 research obtained by the BBC's The One Show found 51 stretches of road are permanently managed by average speed cameras, covering some 263 miles in total - doubling in 3 years. Average speed cameras are not just made up of SPECS average cameras, but also include VECTOR average speed cameras too. Read more about VECTOR speed cameras.

The rise in popularity of SPECS and VECTOR average speed cameras has come as the cost of installing them has dropped. According to Richard Owen, from Road Safety Analysis the cost of installing a SPECS average speed check zone in the early 2000s was £1.5m per mile, the cost in 2016 is typically about £100,000 per mile.

How do SPECS speed cameras work?

SPECS speed camera systems commonly enforce speed limits on dual carriageways and motorways. SPECS gantry installations can monitor up to four lanes. The SPECS system are located at the side of the road or at central reservations. Cameras are then located at regular intervals to operate a managed speed control zone.

Each SPECS speed camera records a date and time stamp. Then, by ANPR, the computer can then work out your average speed between the cameras with photographic evidence that you were speeding between the SPECS cameras. SPECS speed cameras also record your number plate and issue you a speeding ticket if you were speeding along the average speed controlled stretch of road.

I still find it amazing that travelling along the A40 through the 40mph SPECS average speed check zone I can honestly state I am overtaken by almost every car and van that comes along, very rarely do I see a vehicle travelling the same set speed. After so many years of GATSO's on this road, drivers still only brake for the cameras not realising they are Average Speed Cameras. Comment from UK motorist.

Do you have a question about SPECS average safety cameras? You can read UK motorist's SPECS questions and answers and you can also ask your own unanswered question via our online form. Alternatively, read UK drivers SPECS average camera comments.

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. Read more about speeding fines.

A motorist caught by a SPECS average speed camera writes:

I have been prosecuted for speeding at 36mph on the A358 at Henlade by a SpeedCurb camera. However the photographic evidence provided by the police indicated that my speed was less than 34mph over the white lines. As this is below the declared prosecution threshold of 35mph in a 30mph restricted zone, I pleaded not guilty at last week's pre-trial referral hearing.

However at this hearing I was astonished to be told that the photographic evidence was inadmissible, and that full reliance would be placed on the 'infallible' underground piezo cell part of the system, on which the 36mph figure was based. 

I had already submitted questions relating to the operation of the speed camera system, but was told that answers to these questions would be withheld until the trial.  Only then would I have the opportunity to put my questions to an 'expert witness', and if found guilty, I would have to pay the cost of 'perhaps up to £20,000' for the expert witness's testimony.

I simply cannot take the risk of paying such a price for asking for information which I had assumed should have been made available before the trial.

Despite my serious misgivings, it is clear that I have no alternative but to plead guilty. So much for British justice - it is what makes me want to emigrate!

Video of SPECS average speed camera

No film

Unlike other speed cameras SPECS camera don't use film so there is no limit to the number of incriminating motorists it can help to prosecute. Your number plate, date and time stamp are stored by each SPECS camera and then if your average speed between the cameras is above the speed limit you will automatically be issued a speeding fine.

SPECS average speed check zones are becoming more popular

In the past SPECS average speed cameras were used in a minority of counties such as Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire. In more recent ti,es SPECS speed cameras are the favoured choice in motorway roadwork's and road distances covered by average speed cameras (SPECS and VECTOR) have more than doubled between 2013 and 2016.

Furthermore, a number of local authorities are now adopting average speed cameras in favour of the traditional fixed point speed check cameras. For example a number of years ago Cambridgeshire replaced their fixed point Gatso and Truvelo speed cameras along the A14 with a SPECS speed-controlled zone instead. More recently, Lincolnshire have replaced their fixed Gatso cameras on the A15 (just south of Lincoln) with a three camera VECTOR average speed check.

In addition in Cambridgeshire on a very rural road and a notorious accident blackspot location a SPECS average speed system was installed in July 2010. Helping to ensure that motorists keep to the 50mph speed limit along the entire section of road and not just at a speed cameras location. Expect to see more SPECS average speed cameras right across the UK.

What are VECTOR average speed cameras?

In 2014 a new average speed camera named VECTOR also using ANPR technology was launched by the same company behind SPECS - that company named Vysionics. To learn more about VECTOR average speed cameras click here.

SPECS average speed camera locations

What is your view and experiences with SPECS speed cameras in the UK? Tell us and read more SPECS average speed camera comments. Alternatively, if you have a question relating to SPECS average speed cameras, please see our SPECS speed camera Q&A page.

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

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Last updated: 21st September 2021