Speed Camera Detectors
With the massive increase in Speed and other Road Safety Cameras on today's
roads, it's no wonder that many of us are thinking of fitting camera detectors
and other alert systems into our vehicles. Even the most cautious road user can
be caught out by a camera by straying just a few miles per hour over the legal
Placement of speed cameras continues to be a major issue for the public. An overwhelming majority believe that it's perfectly reasonable for authorities to install speed cameras in dangerous locations
i.e. the typical accident black spot. But many are against the indiscriminate use of Speed Cameras in locations where they might be considered to be 'revenue earners'.
When cameras are deployed in
accident black spots then there's a good argument for them, and also a good argument for having a camera detection device; of course one needs to drive sensibly, and
concentrate fully at all times, but the benefits of having an audible alert in your vehicle as you approach a speed camera will raise your level of awareness. As a result of such technology, surely
the number of accidents in such a black spot will reduce.
Despite this logic, there are rumblings that the government might legislate to ban speed camera detection devices. In fact these laws, if passed, are likely to be restricted to those systems that
detect ad-hoc speed monitoring - laser and infra red detection systems.
Where this will leave multi function devices, such as Snooper Safety Alert Systems' S4 neo, is unclear. The device clearly has a practical benefit in the example quoted above as it uses GPS technology
to warn the driver of fixed cameras such as Gatso, SPECS and Truvelo systems and other hazards such as schools; But it also has an integrated laser detection system that can warn the driver of mobile
police detection vans. It can also be fitted with an external Infra Red (IR) detector to warn drivers of similar mobile units that are employing IR technology to monitor vehicle speeds.
Laser Detector systems have been proven to work, even though many believe that you've probably been caught before your alarm goes off. On a clear road your number's up if you blast round a corner
at an illegal speed and you're the first vehicle to be zapped by the laser gun. However, if you're in a line of vehicles, and you're running at the same speed as everyone else, then it's more than
likely that your detector will pick up the scatter as the car in front is scanned, giving you time to slow down if you find that you're accidentally exceeding the limit by a few miles per hour.
Regarding a possible ban of Speed Detector Equipment, there seems to be little news yet about what the ban will actually mean - will it be illegal to sell such kit, or will it be illegal to use
it? Probably the latter, but if not then it's time to get yourself kitted out now while you still can. We're guessing that if there is a ban on sales, then prices will actually rise due to the 'black
What else can you do to protect your license?
In addition to GPS camera systems, Laser and IR detectors, there it's also possible to buy devices that are claimed to block the police detection systems. Typically these are
marketed as garage door openers, though in fact their real purpose is quite different; on detecting the presence of a speed monitoring device targeted at the vehicle's number plate, they emit the
signal that supposedly opens your garage door which confuses the detection system and gives you time to slow down to a reasonable speed before you're 'hit' again. These have been tested by reputable
sources and in many cases were found to work effectively.
There seems little doubt that if caught with one of these fitted to your vehicle, the onus will be on you to prove that you have it for legitimate reasons; and we don't fancy your chances of doing
that. Some will feel that such devices are only fair - especially if they believe that detection is going on to raise revenue for the police. However, most drivers will want to avoid such devices
given that the benefits are offset by the risk of being prosecuted for simply having the device, even if you aren't breaking the speed
Driving within the Speed Limit
Without doubt, the best way to avoid being
prosecuted is to stay within the speed limit.
Observation to enforcement signs is the first step - how often have you been driving along and suddenly realized that you're not sure what the current limit is. Usually, you have an idea from
the surroundings - a built up road with houses nearby on each side really ought to be a 30 and of course the presence of lamp posts without repeater signs is a big clue. A main road with houses
set back from the carriageway may well be a 40, and outside the city limits 50 or 60 on main roads can be expected, as well as 70 on dual carriageways. But we've seen many examples of roads that
you would think should be limited to 30 and they have a speed restriction of 40, and vice versa. There are also many dual carriageways that are limited to 60 or even 50, and many clear, open country
roads where 50 is applied instead of the statutory 60. You therefore need to see the signs, and take note of them. Without technology, you must get into the habit of making a mental note of every
sign you pass and check that you're conforming to its instruction.
Once you know the limits, you need to learn to drive within them. For many drivers adhering to 30 can be a real chore - especially when the idiot behind you is tail gaiting you, and seems to be
eight inches away from your car, simply because you're adhering to the legal limit. Fortunately, in areas where cameras are deployed there seems to be much more tolerance on the part of other drivers
who are now much happier to sit in line, a safe distance behind you. So all you can do when under pressure from the bastard behind, is to let them past and hope that they soon get a blue flash from
a camera to slow them on their way.
So how can technology help?
Driving within the limit may be the only way to really protect your license, but knowing where the cameras are advance is a great help. For starters, you no longer find yourself
in a panic when you see those white stripes on the road in front of you.
We don't know, but we're sure there must have been plenty of cases where people see them and cause an accident by suddenly hitting the brakes to the 'worst case' estimation of the limit - let's
say you're in a 40 and you see them late, you brake to 30 just in case, and the guy behind, who knows that the limit is 40, ploughs into the back of you; don't tell us that's never happened.
With a GPS Speed Camera Detection System, such as the Snooper S4 Neo you're alerted to the presence of the cameras a long way out, giving you time to note its presence, check your speed, and adjust
it if necessary. You also have time to think through the issues - in theory we're in an accident black spot, otherwise there wouldn't be a camera there, would there. The Neo has told you the limit
at the location of the camera, and counts you down to the camera. You're now quite a bit behind the car in front which hasn't slowed down, which is just as well as its brake lights flare up as it
reaches the camera - the driver's just spotted the white lines and is reacting at the last minute - but you were ready for that. Meanwhile, the car behind you is right on your tail, annoyed that
you're holding him up - but again he backs off as you approach the camera - in any case you were aware of its presence and his presence on your tail so you weren't about to slam on the anchors as
you passed the camera. So with all these issues removed from your mind, you're free to focus on the many other things that you need to observe and consider to keep your driving safe.
Our conclusion - speeding is dangerous, but so are speed cameras that are hidden from view so that you see them and react to them at the last minute. Speed cameras in accident black spots, combined
with in-vehicle systems that alert the driver to their presence has to be the safer option.
So What's the bottom line on camera detection systems?
Before venturing abroad with a detection system, check out local regulations - in France for example, certain types of detector are now illegal and you can pick up a big fine
just for having one in your vehicle - French police are said to be making rich pickings on foreign motorists who arrive in the country not knowing about this legislation. The old
radar component works by mixing an X, K or Ka radar signal with an FM "chirp" and bouncing it back at the squad car by way of a waveguide antenna, effectively confusing the computer inside the radar
gun. The new laser component transmits an infrared beam that has the same effect on laser Lidar units.