Speed camera operator explains secrets of the trade – from 10% rule to penalties

A bloke who works in a speed camera van has spoken up to dispel some myths about how the system really works.

Gareth Thomas, a speed reduction officer, has done the job for the last seven years and is a former police officer.

He said that he wants to set the record straight and teach people more about speed cameras.

Speaking to North Wales Live, Gareth, a Go Safe Casualty Reduction Officer, has explained how speed cameras work, the truth behind some of the most popular myths and claims – and how you can avoid being caught speeding.

He said: “I decided after retiring that I wanted to make the roads as safe as they can be in this area.

“The aim of cameras is to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads.

“Go Safe prefers to educate drivers rather than punish them with fines and penalty points.”

Gareth works as a speed camera operator

Is it true that speed vans have to be visible at all times?

Gareth claims no – there are no rules about visibility and officers can operate in the dark.

However, officers don’t usually choose to work in the dark and being visible works as a detterent in its own right.

Gareth, said: “Legally, we don’t have to be visible. I could camouflage myself if I wanted to – but it’s all about being fair, education and preventing an accident.

“Even if I parked my van and went for a walk somewhere, it would deter people speeding right away.”

Can officers only catch motorists travelling in one direction?

Any car that passes the van is recorded on the camera.

So, you’ll get a ticket if you speed past from either direction.

Gareth explained how the rules work
Gareth explained how the rules work

It is true that the 10 per cent rule exists?

Apparently, yes!

Gareth claims that you won’t get a ticket if you’re going too fast but not more than 10% above the limit.

So for example, travelling at 35mph or above in a 30mph zone will be recorded as a speeding offence.

However, Go Safe say thresholds vary and can change without notice. Officially, any speeding offence occurs at 1mph above the limit.

Are officers a revenue collector for the Government?

No. Gareth, explained: “We’re not here to get figures or to make money. We’re just here to catch the people who are speeding.

“If I get a day where I don’t get any drivers speeding, then I know I’ve done my job.

“If I’ve been working an eight hour shift, I just hope at least one person that day has escaped injury or a crash has been avoided.”

Can I get caught speeding more than once on the same day by the same camera ?

Gareth claims that if you’re caught twice within 20 minutes then they will be considered the same offence.

This means you can technically get lots of tickets in one day and be at risk of disqualification.

where offences are deemed to have been committed “on the same occasion”, the court has discretion to impose only the one set of points for two or more offences.

Whether or not offences will be treated as committed on the same occasion is a matter for the court to decide.

They need not have been committed simultaneously, but they must be linked in some way, reports the Mirror.

Careless driving can land you with a fine
Careless driving can land you with a fine

Is it illegal to obstruct a vans view of the road?

Yes, don’t do this as it is an offence and you can be prosecuted.

Do officers enforce anything other than speeding?

Yes, officers are also there to make sure you’re wearing seatbelts and and not using your phone while driving.

Anyone breaking the rules will be prosecuted.

Is it illegal to eat behind the wheel?

No, reports Gareth, but if you become distracted you might be prosecuted for careless driving.

Gareth, said: “It is endorsable. I had one lady in view once and she was looking in the mirror and putting lipstick on.

“She was riding on the cats eyes in the centre of the road and veering. I recommended that she was prosecuted for driving without due care and attention.”

Is it illegal to flash your headlights to alert motorists of a speed van?

If drivers choose to flash to warn others about a speed van, they could be in breach of the law.

Under section 89 of the Police Act 1997 it is an offence to “wilfully obstruct a constable in the execution of his/her duty”.

However, Gareth says while it is an offence, it is very difficult to prove.

He said: “It doesn’t bother me that people flash to warn them of the speed van – I just want to educate people and the van to act as a speed deterrent.”

Speed cameras combat dangerous driving
Speed cameras combat dangerous driving

How long do speed vans tend to stay at one particular spot?

Speed vans will stick to one spot for 90 minutes, claims Gareth.

During a shift, Gareth will stop at three spots where he has been ordered to sit.

Enforcement is usually carried out in certain areas for a number of reasons, including: Death or serious injury has occurred at the location, speeds in the area have been recorded as significantly high and speeding concerns have been raised by residents and those concerns have been corroborated by a traffic speed survey.

What happens if I am caught speeding?

Well, Gareth claims that depends on how high above the speed limit you were driving.

The minimum penalty for being caught speeding on the UK’s roads is a £100 fine.

But Gareth explained in some circumstances, police can offer the option of attending a speed awareness course – an alternative to a fine and penalty points.

Gareth, said: “An accredited course is far more likely to improve driver behaviour and consequently make our broads safer.

“Courses are available to drivers who respond quickly to the ‘notices’ and who were driving at no more than 10 per cent, plus nine mph above the posted speed limit.”

If you’ve been on a speed awareness course in the last three years it’s unlikely that you’ll be offered one again.

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