speed camera

Speed cameras and speed courses – a brief explainer

16th Jun, 2020

It’s probably not controversial to say that nobody loves speed cameras. At best, most of us regard them as necessary evils to maintain public safety on the roads. At worst, many drivers regard them as cynical cash grabs to ambush drivers and squeeze even more money out of them through fines and fixed penalties. But like them or not, they’re not going away – after all, they’re designed to help drivers avoid the sort of accidents that could end up with you having to scrap your car.

With the nation currently in the grip of lockdown, there’s been a noticeable rise in the number of drivers taking the opportunity of the quieter to get their engines into higher gears on residential streets. With that in mind, it seems like a fitting time to take a quick look at the main measures designed to deter it.

Jump to: Will get an automatic driving ban if I’m doing certain speeds above the limit?Is there a limit to how many times I can take a speed awareness course?Is it possible to drive too quickly for a speed camera to catch you?

The key facts about speed awareness courses

If you’re caught speeding, it generally won’t be too long before you know about it. This might be because you’ve got a very angry police officer in front of you, or it might be because you’ve had a letter through the door after being snapped by a speed camera – many of which are designed to capture an image of your face as well as your number plate, so you can be identified conclusively.

So, a couple of things can happen from here. If you’re speaking to an officer in person, you might be lucky to get off with only a verbal warning. More often, you’ll get a fixed penalty notice (which can be expensive) or the option to attend a speed awareness course.

It’s not free to attend either – there’s a charge to do it. That might sound galling, but that’s why it’s a deterrent! The course itself takes between four to five hours – it’s been compared to an intensive theoretical driving lesson, in which you’re retaught the dangers of exceeding the speed limit.

Can I choose a speed awareness course instead of getting points my licence?

Only if the choice is offered to you! They’re not noted on your licence in the same way as penalty points, but you only get given this option if your speed is within a certain ‘tolerance’ – in other words, if you were going over the speed limit by only a certain amount.

For some police forces, this tolerance stands at between 10% of the speed limit plus 2mph, to 10% of the limit plus 9mph. In other words, you can only choose a speed awareness course in the following circumstances:

  • 30mph limit: speeding between 35mph and 42mph
  • 40mph limit: speeding between 46mph and 53mph
  • 50mph limit: speeding between 57mph and 64mph
  • 60mph limit: speeding between 68mph and 75mph
  • 70mph limit: speeding between 79mph and 86mph

Others have refused to admit to the use of a tolerance at all, suggesting that you may well get stopped unless you’re definitely below the speed limit. As with many things on public roads, it’s better to just not risk it!

Will get an automatic driving ban if I’m doing certain speeds above the limit?

Not automatically, per se – most penalties are decided by individual circumstances. But if you’re doing double the speed limit or over 100mph, it’s a pretty safe bet that you’ll have your licence revoked.

Is there a limit to how many times I can take a speed awareness course?

Yes. You can’t take a speed awareness course more than once within a 3 year timespan. When you go to a speed awareness course, it’s recorded on the databases of the National UK Driver Offender Retraining Scheme. This ensures that you won’t get given the option again within three years of your last attendance. Instead, if you’re caught speeding again within that timeframe, you’ll just be given a fixed penalty notice. More often than not, that means a heavy fine.

The facts about speed cameras, in a flash

There are two types of speed cameras – fixed, and mobile. You probably already know what a fixed speed camera looks like, whether you’ve been caught by one or not – they’re the ones emplaced in strategic locations in various highways across the UK. On the other hand, mobile speed cameras are generally carried by the police and other authorities, using lasers and radar to catch speeding drivers.

Some fixed ones are highlighted by signs leading up to their locations, encouraging drivers to reduce their speed, whereas obviously mobile ones give you no such warning at all – that’s very much the point!

Since October 2016, the majority of speed cameras have now been painted yellow for easier visibility. This was done in response to some drivers making it clear they viewed the use of the cameras as cynical, placed not so much to encourage safety as they were to simply gain revenue for councils through the use of speeding fines. Now the cameras are clearly visible, authorities made it clear in turn that they believe drivers have no excuse to be speeding past them.

Is it possible to drive too quickly for a speed camera to catch you?

No. Despite what people sometimes hear from friends of friends, modern speed cameras cannot be outwitted by a car that’s simply going too speedily. In one notable case, a speed camera caught a supercar in Texas doing a speed in excess of 240mph. As we outlined recently, they’re also not fooled by drivers changing lanes either.

Some fixed cameras also work in slightly different ways. For example, some will measure your average speed between two separate points. That means driving up slowly for a short distance and then gunning it once you think you’re past them is probably very risky too – aside from the obvious immediate safety implications.

And in case you’re wondering while we’re on the topic – no, you cannot warn another driver about fixed or mobile speed cameras by flashing your lights. If you’re caught doing it, authorities may decide it amounts to obstruction of a police officers, which can obviously carry some quite weighty legal consequences of its own!

There’s an easy way to avoid all that hassle, though – just keep your speed within the appropriate limits! That way, you can avoid any legal worries and any immediate risk of accidentally scrapping your car in a collision.

It’s far less dangerous and stressful just to let it reach the end of its natural lifespan – and when that happens, at Scrap Car Network we’ll be right here to help! You can get an instant online quote for your scrap car in just 10 seconds – simply enter a few details into our homepage, and we’ll send you an instant online quote! Couldn’t be easier.

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