Caught on camera: How often are your drivers "under the lens"?

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#Driver Safety
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Speed camera

We've spoken before about fleet management and how it can require a degree of plate spinning at times. Not least of all is ensuring your drivers perform their roles safely and responsibly. Safe driving within your fleet is a factor that runs the risk of being picked up by the police or local authorities if it isn't picked up by you or your team.

One core deterrent against speeding for drivers is the variety of speed cameras used up and down the country. With the advances in technology and law enforcement, are you and your drivers aware of how often they're being recorded and how this could feed back onto the business?

Many people welcome speed cameras as they are enforced to help improve road safety, however, some view them as an unnecessary measure. Despite the differences in opinion regarding their necessity, it’s clear that speed cameras are here to stay. It can therefore be helpful to brush up on the facts about the types of cameras your fleet may encounter when on the road.

Do we need speed cameras?

There is a debate about the usefulness of speed cameras, but when the first camera was installed on London's Twickenham bridge, with a 60mph trigger on the 40mph road, it caught almost 23,000 speeding drivers in just 22 days. The statistics back up the importance of driving within the limit, with figures from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents showing that speed plays into 11% of all injuries, 15% of serious injuries, 24% of deaths on the road.

In addition, almost 350 people are killed and 2,500 are seriously injured every year because of drivers travelling at inappropriate speeds, making the case for speed cameras increasingly convincing. The placement of speed cameras, as drivers might predict, considers factors such as previous reports on speeding and accidents, and the most effective place for deterring potential speeders.

How often are your drivers on camera?

With drivers collectively paying out £600,000 a day in speeding camera fines, and dash cam users submitting 35 dash cam videos a day to the police, drivers are only ever a short distance from one of the 7000 speed cameras found on British roads today.

What are drivers caught doing?

A recent report on vehicle speed compliance has shown that over 53% of cars, 55% of vans, and 2% of articulated lorries were found to speed on UK motorways. On30mph roads this rises to 56% for cars, 58% for vans and 46% for HGVs. With the presence of speed cameras, the rate of speeding drops, yet 2.6 million tickets were still issued in 2019.

Mobile phone usage is another cause for concern, with 13,000 motorists convicted yearly, highlighting the necessity of hands-free communication within your fleets. The police now also have special vehicles for checking this in HGVs, so drivers need to be particularly cautious.

The 10% limit

It's been known for a long time that fixed speed cameras have a set trigger designed to catch people who travel over the speed limit, but many people believe that all speed cameras had a leeway of 10%. For example, if the speed limit on a road were 40mph, you'd be able to travel at 44mph without setting off a camera. While the law doesn't mention anything about buffer zones or an additional ten percent elbow room, the NPCC or National Police Chiefs' Council advises police officers to give drivers a "10% plus 2" discretionary leeway. However, this advice is directed at individual officers using mobile speeding cameras and, while the advice is recommended, an officer can ultimately choose to ignore any form of leeway.

Interestingly, many fixed speed cameras have an inbuilt 10% rule depending on the police force that administers them.  Although not all police forces have disclosed the tolerances, or confirmed if there even is one, many have, and most follow the 10% plus two advice.

The reasoning behind the leniency is that it doesn't encourage drivers to constantly watch their speedometers and instead focus on the road ahead. While it can be comforting to know there's some room for manoeuvre in some speed cameras, it can't be said for sure whether the rule is nationwide, so it's safer and wiser for your drivers to remain under the speed limit.

Types of speed cameras

When on the road, your fleet will likely encounter a wide range of speed cameras, especially if your fleet travels outside of the UK. In Great Britain, drivers should be aware of the different speed cameras that can be found on the roads today.

Fixed speed cameras

Fixed speed cameras are the most common type of speed camera (or safety camera, as they're officially known) in the UK. The rear-facing Gatso camera is most frequently seen on roads, but the Truvelo utilises a forward-facing camera capable of catching motorists at the wheel, photographing them in the act and ultimately removing any chance of dispute.

Mobile speed cameras

Operated by local police forces and generally positioned in spots that witness frequent accidents over three years or more, mobile speed cameras can come in various designs and operating styles. This can include working from marked or unmarked vehicles or being manually operated by individual police officers.

Mobile speed cameras have a typical range of up to one mile, making them effective at catching drivers out before they've spotted the police, and while most mobile speed cameras work out of parked vans, they're still capable of catching motorists on the move. However, it’s recommended that you are mindful of your speed in front of any police vehicle, avoiding the risk of a speeding ticket or fine.

Average speed cameras

Introduced in 1999, the SPECS camera is an increasingly common sight on British roads. Relying on ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Reading) digital technology, the average speed camera records the date and time as you pass between two cameras to calculate the average speed.

There are 307 miles of major roads in England and Scotland now covered by permanent average speed cameras and are more likely to be seen at roadworks.

Variable speed cameras

Working in a similar way to average speed cameras but unlikely to operate around the clock, variable speed cameras are often used on smart motorways when the speed limit needs to be lowered. When in operation, the new speed limit will be displayed on digital signs.

Traffic light cameras

Also known as red-light cameras, traffic light cameras are designed to detect vehicles that have run red lights through sensors or ground loops in the road. Active only when the red lights are on, the camera will capture any car crossing the white stop line once the signal is red.


Increasingly common on the roads today, dash cams are today being used for various reasons, and courts are seeing a rise in footage used as evidence of criminal activity or dangerous driving.

It's worth being aware that dashcam usage can be a two-way street, with some footage being used against their owners if caught by the police. Similarly, if you decide to take action against a driver and the judge deems you were in the wrong, the dashcam video can be used against you.

As a fleet owner, the general advice is to ensure your drivers remain under the speed limit and drive responsibly at all times. With dash cams allowing anyone on the road to capture unsafe driving, dangerous driving can be caught on film regardless of the number of speed cameras around. Ensuring all drivers know how their driving can reflect on the wider fleet and the reputation of the business is a crucial factor in running a successful fleet. Managing fuel cost is also a core component of any fleet, but with our fuel cards tracking the outgoings of fuel doesn't have to be complicated or take up a large amount of your time.

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David James
Sales Director

David has worked in the fuel card industry since 2008. His financial insights have been featured in various publications, such as The Sun, the Daily Express and The Yorkshire Times where he provides money-saving tips for motorists. David is passionate about charity work and regularly raises money through running events, including the London Marathon and the Leeds Abbey Dash.