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Inside a mobile speed camera van – truth about 10% rule and other myths busted


Speed cameras and speed camera vans exist to catch people who exceed the speed limit. If someone is caught they are normally hit by a ticket, a fine, and points on their licence.

However, while speed cameras are a staple of Britain’s roads and the bright yellow objects which contain them are a warning, few know what life is like on the other side of the camera.

What’s more, the men and women who operate these machines have a few insights of their own on the truth behind the urban myths.

Go Safe Casualty Reduction Officer Gareth Thomas told North Wales Live about how speed cameras work and revealed the reality behind some urban driving myths.

First things first, Mr Thomas revealed that while the vans are brightly coloured and easily visible, that this is entirely optional.

He revealed that there are no laws on visibility and there is nothing stopping an officer from operating at night.

However, one of the reasons they choose not to do this is because the presence of the van is in itself a deterrent.

Mr Thomas explained: “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 straight away.”

What’s more, Mr Thomas explained there is some truth to one of the most popular speeding myths.

There has long been a belief that there is a 10 percent rule, that you won’t be caught if you’re doing the speed limit plus 10 percent of that speed limit.

Mr Thomas revealed that this is partly true. He said you will not get a ticket as long as your speed does not exceed the limit by 10 percent plus one mile per hour in North Wales.

This means in a 30mph zone, a person will be recorded as speeding if your speed exceeds 34mph.

One question many people have is whether you can be caught speeding on the same day by the same camera.

Mr Thomas said the position with Go Safe is that if you are caught twice within 20 minutes, it is treated as the same offence.

Although it is illegal to use your phone whilst behind the wheel, it is not illegal to eat whilst driving, but this doesn’t mean you won’t get in trouble.

Mr Thomas said he once had a driver who was looking in the mirror, applying lipstick, but veering and riding the cat’s eyes in the middle of the road. Mr Thomas later recommended that she should be prosecuted for driving without due care and attention.

Mr Thomas, now retired, said one of his aims is to “educate people” about speeding and for the van he used to “act as a speed deterrent”.

While Mr Thomas is no longer operating his camera, new devices could be coming onto Britain’s roads to catch out canny drivers.

New speed cameras could be introduced that penalise drivers who attempt to avoid a ticket or fine by braking sharply before a speed camera and accelerating quickly after they’ve passed them.

After successful trials in Spain, road safety experts are calling for their introduction in the UK. Founder of Road Angel Gary Digva told Fleet News: “If introduced, these devices will catch and penalise more speeding motorists, encouraging more drivers to stick to legal limits and improve road safety.”

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