The UK's first speed camera was installed 25 years ago – and in the quarter-of-a-century since then, millions of drivers have been caught out up and down the country.
Over the years we’ve all heard rumours about speed cameras that don’t actually work and ways to wriggle out of getting points on your licence.
So we spoke to the road safety charity Brake to find the truth behind some popular speed camera myths.
Not all speed cameras work, some are switched off – True
A spokesman for Brake said: “Concerningly, various Freedom of Information requests have revealed that some speed cameras are not fully operational in the UK.
“Brake fully supports the use of speed cameras, and would encourage the return to use of any cameras that have been turned off. Speed cameras are proven to reduce speeding, and can catch far higher numbers of speeding drivers than traffic police with mobile cameras.”
You have to be speeding at least 10% of the limit, plus 2mph, to get caught – False (sort of)
The law states that a driver can receive a speeding ticket as soon as they exceed the speed limit on a road, even if that is only by 1mph.
However, guidance provided by the NPCC (National Police Chiefs Council, formally ACPO, Association of Chief Police Officers) suggests that officers do not seek prosecution of a driver until they have exceeded the speed limit by 10%, plus 2mph.
The spokesman for Brake said: “It is important to note this guidance is not legally entrenched, and that officers have the discretion to act outside it – drivers should be aware that this guidance also does not mean that they can break the speed limit legally.”
If you slow down for the camera then speed up again, you won't get caught – Depends on the camera
“The operation of average speed cameras prevents dangerous driving in this manner, and provides a strong deterrent to drivers who may not be detected by fixed cameras,” according to the spokesman for Brake. He added: “Breaking the speed limit is incredibly dangerous, and drivers should ensure that they stick to speed limits, and drive to the conditions of the road, at all times.”
If you drive really fast, you won't trigger the camera – False
This one’s complete rubbish. The only way to avoid triggering the camera is the stick within the speed limit.
Speed cameras must be painted yellow to be legal – False
The government has announced plans for all speed cameras in England to be painted yellow, however if you’re caught on a grey camera before that happens, the offence is still valid.
Average speed cameras don’t really work and that’s why some people ignore them – False
The spokesman from Brake said: “Average speed cameras are an effective way to prevent dangerous driver behaviour. They are particularly beneficial as they enforce limits over a longer stretch of road, preventing law-breaking drivers from being able to speed up again immediately after passing a camera.”
You must be notified within a certain amount of time for it to be valid – True
According to Brake, a driver who is caught by a speed camera, rather than a police officer, must be sent a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) within 14 days. The notice will go to the individual who the vehicle is registered to.
You can request a speed awareness course – False
Those eligible for a course will be notified by the police. If you haven’t been offered one, you’re out of luck.
You can do a speed awareness course more than once – Sometimes true
Drivers who are caught speeding for a second time may be able to do a second course, dependent on the severity of the offence. However, this cannot be within three years of the first speed awareness course, according to guidelines.
If you get a speed awareness course, you don’t have to declare it on your insurance – False
The spokesman for Brake said: “Drivers who fail to reveal that they have undertaken a speed awareness course, who then later make a claim to their insurance provider, may find that their policy is invalid. Information on whether a driver has taken a speed awareness course is held by local police forces.”
You can even get caught on a bicycle or horse – False
“Whilst it is unlikely that a cyclist, or other road user on non-motorised transport, would be able to reach the necessary speeds to be above the limit, the law holds that legislation around speed limits covers only motor or mechanically propelled vehicles,” said the spokesman for Brake.
“However,” he added, “It is important that cyclists, like all road users, follow the laws of the road and travel safely and responsibly for conditions.”
Speed cameras are just there to make money – False
The spokesman for Brake said: “Speed cameras exist to save lives, and protect road users. Breaking the speed limit, or travelling too fast for conditions, is a contributory factor in more than one in four crashes in the UK, and at higher speeds, crashes are far more likely to be fatal.
“Evidence shows that speed cameras provide a vital deterrent to dangerous and selfish drivers, although it is important that they are accompanied by sufficient levels of police on our roads to act as a visual deterrent.”