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Mythbusting: UK speed cameras

Few subjects in the world of motoring are as emotive as those dreaded yellow boxes on the poles by the side of the road. And it is also true to say that few topics are the source of so much rumour, urban legend and misinformation.

Here, we sort the wheat from the chaff, looking at the truth behind eight of the most popular speed camera rumours.

1) Some speed cameras are dummies – TRUE

Not all speed cameras are operational. Some are just positioned prominently for effect to make drivers keep to the limit. Of course, there is no way of knowing which ones.

2) You only get a ticket if you are “10 per cent + 2” over the limit – FALSE

Enforcement officers do have discretion on how to deal with your speeding depending on just how fast you were going. This means that you are more likely to get a fine and points for travelling at 50mph in a 40mph limit than for travelling at 45mph, but this is not entrenched in law. The advice is clear – if you want to avoid points and a fine, stick within the speed limit.

3) Cameras have to be painted yellow – FALSE

There are no rules governing the colour of speed cameras.

4) You can get ticketed for speeding on a bicycle – FALSE

The laws governing speed limits only apply to mechanically propelled vehicles.

5) You have to be notified within 14 days for the fine to be valid – TRUE

If the notification takes longer than two weeks, you can challenge it as invalid.

6) You can request a speed awareness course to avoid penalty points – FALSE

In some cases, you will be given the option of taking a speed awareness course, and this will usually mean that you will not incur penalty points. However, you cannot request this option.

7) You only get offered a speed awareness course once – FALSE

Some drivers have been offered a speed awareness course on multiple occasions. Having said that, it is true that if you have taken the course once, you are less likely to be offered it again.

8) Taking a speed awareness course will reduce your insurance premium – FALSE

You need to declare the fact that you have taken the course to your insurance provider, and while this might well have an effect on your premium, it is impossible to predict what this will be, as the insurance underwriters use a complex range of data in making their calculations.

Drive safely

Speed cameras might be among the most unpopular features of modern roads, but let’s remember why they are there. If a child runs out into the road in front of you and you are doing 20mph, you will need 40 feet to stop. If you are doing 40mph, you will need 120 feet. Even if you cannot stop in time, the child is four times more likely to die if hit at 40mph than at 30 mph.

Thought about in that light, a fine and penalty points are completely insignificant consequences of speeding. If we keep to the limit, the truth or myth behind speed cameras becomes irrelevant. Drive safely!

Speed Camera