A motorcycle parked in front of a tent on a pleasant green campsite

Home Ren's Biking Blog

Effective Average Speed Cameras

Blog Date 29 Aug 2019

We've had the old GATSO speed cameras now since the '90s. There is and always will be an ongoing debate regarding their effectiveness at improving road safety. While average speed cameras have also been around for quite a while I am noticing an increase in their usage, and I can see why.

2 cameras in yellow housings point up and down the road on top of a bright yellow pole
"Hey Mom, I'm on TV!!"

Regarding GATSO type cameras - while not ubiquitous it is not uncommon to notice speeding motorists will only slow down at the camera's location. Otherwise they will continue at their previous over-speed. With the average speed camera this isn't really an option along the entire section of road that is covered.

Well, that's not strictly true. We could travel at 500mph and then stop just short of each camera and wait. How long we'd need to wait would be a simple calculation but I'd estimate the time it takes to upload our speeding video to YouTube should cover it.

Mostly though people don't operate like this. It feels more like you're getting to your destination by continuing at, say, 50mph constantly rather than blasting along at 100mph then taking 1 minute stops every 2 miles. It's quite difficult to do this too on motorway roadworks where the average speed cameras are most popular.

As stated we're used to seeing them mostly on motorway roadworks and anyone who's been along the M62's western section recently will be able to attest to their effect. The traffic moves at the posted 50mph. The outside lane moves at 52, maybe 55 at night, the middle lane at 50 and the inside lane at 49. Eeeee, I remember the olden days when roadwork's speed limits were seen more as a guide than a rule.

It's no longer just motorway roadworks. There's a road out in the countryside near where I live, the A675 between Belmont and Abbey Village. My friend used to boast he could ride the entire road at 80mph back in the day. Today it is limited to 50mph and adorned with a plethora of tall yellow poles holding average speed cameras atop. Today the road flows at a steady 50, day and night.

A regular countryside road with an average speed camera to one side
Ah the yellow pole in the countryside. 

I expect we'll see more and more of these average speed cameras. That is until the automated speed limiters come in. Or the self driving vehicles. Or the impending Zombie Apocalypse. 

If you'd like to share your motorcycling related thoughts click here.

Reader's Comments

Upt'North said :-
The A9 in the Cairngorms is covered in these little blighters.
I do agree they are a more sensible approach to speed enforcement but the muppets on the M6 haven't got a clue how they work and treat them like Fatso's. I suspect they probably find out within the next 14 days.
And of course on variable speed limits we also have live camera's there on the gantries.
I prefer the French system, although the NSL is a nonsense where towns are one speed and out of town another, simples.

29/8/2019 5:52:01 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Upt' - what do you mean by "live camera's there on the gantries."? I know there's cameras there I just thought they were GATSO, I don't understand what you mean by live?

And the French system? France as I recall has 30kmh, 50kmh, 60, 70, 80 and 90kmh zones.
30/8/2019 1:02:53 PM UTC
Ian Soady said :-
I think what he means about the French system is that the town / village nameplate normally indicates the start of a 50kph limit (exceptions are signed) and the nameplate with a red line through it indicates the national speed limit which was 90kph for single carriageway, reduced to 80kph for a short while recently but seems to have gone back up although I'm not entirely sure about this.

WRT the gantries we have a lot of "managed motorways" here in the West Midlands. I believe the cameras on the gantries are gatso type but I'm not sure.

When they first brought the managed motorway system in (and did away with the hard shoulders) I and lots of other people were worried about the consequences of breaking down. However, published statistics seem to show they're actually safer although I can't now lay my hands on the report as it's some years since I read it.
30/8/2019 2:37:54 PM UTC
Upt'North said :-
Ian and our Ed.
The French system first...
Ed, of course you are right, the French can and do post alternative speed limits. However....
Like Ian states you know when you are within the boundaries of a French Town or village it is almost certain to be a 50 kmh limit, whereas in blighty it could be 20,30,40 or even 50 mph.
Once you leave the village in France it then becomes a 80 kph (too low by far) limit.
Yes they may post higher limits especially on RN's (although not many left regrettably) but you know it's 80 kph minimum.
While we are on about our French cousins the motorway limits are far more sensible too, don't get me wrong about France, I'm no francophile, they eat some pretty awful things that you'd never find in Oldham market but there limits are generally consistent.
Live Cameras, Ed of course you're right ( aren't you always?) they are Gatso and not avarage or Truvelo. But.......I was I formed recently by someone who should know that the cameras are live even when no variable speed is shown. So for live read switched on. So when riding in a Variable speed limit area assume that 70 is being enforced at all times. They are obviously the newer digital Gatso.
Back to France.......be aware that the Gendarmes ride very swift FJR13's and have loaded guns, that's another story.
30/8/2019 3:01:49 PM UTC
Upt'North said :-
With regards the 80 or 90 debate I think nationally it is 80 but local conditions and local councils may alter back to 90 if conditions allow but I don't know if any have. Maybe someone in the EU could tell us.
This ruling was made on the eve of the EU elections, strange that innit.
30/8/2019 3:20:03 PM UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
OH gawd don't confuse me, Her Bossness Sharon and I be in France soon enough.

When I wur last theeer... Yes 50kmh where the town sign is, was 90 now 80kmh(?) where the "end of town" sign is (town name with red line through it). BUT! There were A LOT of 30kmh zones within the towns. There were a lot of 60 and 70kmh zones in, out and shake it all about of towns too. I'd say they were pretty much on par with the UK for messing around with the limits. I shall see how we get on this time.

I think I'll stick to 30kmh everywhere. Sharon! We're going on 50cc scoots sweetie.
30/8/2019 4:41:22 PM UTC
Mark c said :-
Bad news folks eventually all the average speed cameras are going to be linked to one system that will then calculate not just how fast you have traveled a certain section of road but will calculate how fast you have traveled between counties too.
1/10/2019 1:14:42 PM UTC
pocketpete said :-
They had this system in France years ago in the 1990s. I went with a load of Police riders to france. We were going to a police sports event and were staying at an army/police base near monza. On our return we were rather anxious we were going to miss the ferry and got on the toll road and blasted it over to Calais as we got off to pay the toll we were duly surrounded by froggy police. Apparently we got on the toll road at a certain time, got off it at a certain time and the till worked out our average speed over the distance. Hmm. They wanted £ 100 off each one of us..oops

We explained we were all police visiting the country and eventually with a bit of arm twisting they decided only one of us should pay and the rest would get a caution. We clubbed together and paid it. Rather embarrassing really.
1/10/2019 6:59:01 PM UTC
Mike said :-
Goto IoM no speed limit on the mountain and in national peed limit zones.
2/10/2019 5:14:51 AM UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I hear tell with the tolls they can "do" you because it is very easy to demonstrate that you were going too fast. And yes I can see it would only be a simple matter of linking average speed camera systems to see just how fast people really do go from point A to point B. Gosh! You'd think it was illegal or something.

Mike - I went to the Isle Of Man. Unfortunately at that time I was 2-up on a CBF250. 80mph flat out full throttle giving it the max beans down the mountain was all I managed. I may return one day and see if I can break the ton on my 500 :)
2/10/2019 2:07:49 PM UTC

Post Your Comment Posts/Links Rules



Add a RELEVANT link (not required)

Upload an image (not required)

No uploaded image
Real Person Number
Please enter the above number below

Home Ren's Biking Blog

Admin -- -- Service Records