Speed camera hacks that do not work and will still see you fined

Some of the ways you might know about how to get around speed cameras may not in fact be helping you at all. With so many of them around and so many people getting fines and penalty points, it’s no surprise that various tips and tricks circulate about ways of avoiding being caught by the cameras on our roads. But do these apparent loopholes really work?

: BBC Weather latest: Rest of summer looks ‘mixed’ amid August heatwave reports Birmingham Live checked through some of the most common urban myths on speed cameras to see what the official position was from motoring experts such as the AA who know the ins and outs of these roadside spies.

Myth 1: If the camera didn’t flash, you weren’t clocked

Speed cameras don’t always flash when they catch you speeding. There are more than a dozen types of speed cameras operating throughout the UK – and some don’t flash.

But they’ve still clocked you whizzing past. This myth has arisen because the most common speed camera in the UK, the Gatso, (which looks like a yellow box), will flash twice when you are caught speeding and has led people to think that flashing means it got you, and no flashing means it didn’t or was switched off. However, many others use infra-red to determine your speed.

And even if it does flash, it doesn’t mean you were caught. Gatso cameras have sometimes been seen flashing for no justifiable reason. In 2017, the Government admitted that only 52 per cent of speed cameras in the UK were switched on.

Four of the 45 police forces in the UK had no working speed cameras, it emerged. But you can’t tell which ones are on and which ones aren’t.

Sign up to our newsletter

Get the best stories about the things you love most curated by us and delivered to your inbox every day. Choose what you love here.

And the grey ones are just as good at catching you as those painted bright yellow. So remember, the colour and whether it flashes is no indication of whether it is working. It doesn’t legally have to be bright yellow.

Government officials are working to make all speed cameras yellow so they are more conspicuous, but the grey cameras still waiting to be painted are still operational. There is no way to be sure until you do – or don’t – receive a notification in the post, usually within 14 working days. You will also see white lines on the road near a Gatso camera and those are the secondary method used to measure your speed.

If there are white lines on both sides of the road, it might mean the camera is sometimes turned to face the other way. Or it may be a deterrent to trick drivers into slowing down from both directions because they don’t know which side of the road is being targeted.

Traffic light and speed camera checking speeds of passing vehicles

Myth 2: Changing lanes or hiding behind lorries can throw off the camera’s speed checks

One of the common myths is the belief that you can fool the speed checks on an average camera by changing lanes or hiding behind a big lorry. This isn’t the case.

Modern automatic number plate recognition technology on cameras means you can’t swerve into another lane or hide behind that articulated truck as the device has probably been tracking you for longer than you think. The AA said: “While older speed cameras could’ve been ‘tricked’, more advanced cameras now use multiple sets of cameras at each point to track all the lanes and compare average speeds. “You shouldn’t be trying to avoid getting caught.

It’s safer for everyone to stick to the limits – and the law – by not speeding in the first place.”

Myth 3 – Slowing down or speeding up can fool the camera

The only sure way to avoid triggering the camera is to stick within the speed limit. Driving even faster is not going to do you any good at all If you are driving at or below the speed limit when driving past the speed camera then you will be ok.

And with average speed cameras, often found at regular intervals (at least two must be present) on busy roads and in those endless miles of motorway roadworks, then speeding between them and then slowing down right near them won’t work. Average speed cameras work out your average speed over a set distance. If you speed in between them, the cameras will know about it.

Your average speed will be higher because of the quick bursts, even if you slowed down when right near the cameras. Also, bear in mind that driving at a snail’s pace – whether there’s a camera up ahead or not – can actually be an offence. Police say driving too slowly on any road can result in a motorist being penalised for careless driving which carries a fine and penalty points on a licence.

Each case is dealt with on its own merit. Cameras don’t record slow driving, you’d have to be pulled over by cops or reported to them with dashcam footage as evidence.

Myth 4 – Speed cameras can only get you from behind

It’s true that the yellow Gatso cameras are always ‘rear-facing’, meaning they look at the back of your vehicle. But not all cameras are.

For a Gatso device, this means it can’t clock you when you are driving towards it. The reason is apparently so that drivers don’t get momentarily dazzled by the flashing. So it takes two photos of the back of your vehicle, including your rear number plate.

Gatsos cannot capture speeding vehicles on the other side of the road that are driving towards the camera’s lens. However, there are forward-facing cameras such as those made by such as Truvelo, VECTOR and SPECS that target motorists from the front of their vehicle.

Speed camera hacks that do not work and will still see you finedSpeeding can land motorists in a lot of trouble

So are speed cameras just an easy way to make money?

Chances are that anyone caught by a camera will think it’s an easy way for the powers-that-be to make money. But a spokesman for Brake said: “Speed cameras exist to save lives, and protect road users.

Breaking the speed limit, or travelling too fast for conditions, is a contributory factor in more than one in four crashes in the UK, and at higher speeds, crashes are far more likely to be fatal. “Evidence shows that speed cameras provide a vital deterrent to dangerous and selfish drivers, although it is important that they are accompanied by sufficient levels of police on our roads to act as a visual deterrent.” A 2019 study by Plos One concluded: “Our results indicate that speed cameras do cause a significant reduction in road traffic collisions, by as much as 15 per cent on average for treated sites.”

However, the Alliance of British Drivers has said it does believe speed cameras are seen as a good way of making money. An ABD spokesman told BirminghamLive : “Overall, we support sensible speed laws with sensible enforcement but not lower speed limits to generate revenue.”

In a 2019 report, the ABD had said: “Safety camera partnerships are largely funded from the fees paid by drivers who have been offered a speed awareness course in lieu of a fixed penalty and points. “This arrangement is an incentive to target locations where large numbers of drivers exceed unrealistically low speed limits, thus distorting enforcement priorities.

It should be banned. Where speed limit enforcement can be justified, it should be funded by Government grants, dependent on a camera partnership’s success in reducing casualties.” It has called for the Government to go back to using the 85th percentile as the main factor in setting local speed limits.

This means the speed at which 85 per cent of drivers are travelling along a road. The report added: “We need to get away from the obsession with speed limits and their enforcement. Speed limits only benefit road safety if set at a level that the majority of drivers accept as reasonable.

In practice, this means setting them as close as possible to the 85th percentile speed, i.e. the speed that only 15 per cent of drivers would want to exceed anyway. “Speed limits set this way lead to the smoothest traffic flow, low speed variance, and the lowest accident risk. If set below this level, as is the case with many speed limits in the UK, speed variance increases, leading to more overtaking driver frustration, with a consequent increase in accident risk.

Reverting to the setting of speed limits in accordance with the 85th percentile principle is essential.”