They’ve been around for a while now, but there is still a lot of confusion around the types of speed camera detectors that are available, how they work and why they are useful, so we thought we’d put together this handy guide to help you navigate the topic.
Why do I need a Speed Camera Detector?
First and foremost, speed camera detectors make sure you’re always aware of the legal speed by alerting you not only to the speed cameras in your vicinity, but also to the speed limit that you should be traveling at. This makes for safer journeys for you and other road users, as well as helping you avoid speeding penalties in areas where it is not clear what the speed limit is.
Secondly, they are often set up with other driving alerts such as accident black spots, school zones, congestion charge zones and railway crossings. Again, this can help ensure a safe journey for you and those around you, as well as providing you with the information you need to plan a timely and cost effective journey.
Lastly, some devices such as the Road Angel, have advanced functionality including letting the emergency services know where you are in case of an accident, to help protect drivers and deliver a rapid response.
What speed camera detectors are available and how do they work?
There are 3 types of speed camera detectors available, ranging from more basic models that rely on a database of information, to more advanced models that can detect laser and radar guns:
Rely on a database of fixed speed camera locations, speed limits and other information, combined with GPS to detect where you are in relation to the cameras etc.
Have the same functionality as the GPS devices, but they also include laser detectors to pick up on mobile laser cameras.
Have the same set up as the laser devices but also include detectors to pick up on mobile radar cameras.
Which one you pick depends entirely on the needs you have, but do remember; the databases that they all use will need updating. This is because as new speed cameras are installed, and speed limits change, the information can become out of date, which could potentially put you and other road users at risk. Some providers offer free subscriptions to update the database, and others offer paid – check this out when researching your device.
Glossary of terms
- GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) uses satellites orbiting the earth to transmit microwave signals. A GPS receiver then uses the signals to calculate location.
- GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) is a packet oriented mobile data service for users of GSM devices.
- GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) was developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute to describe protocols for 2G digital cellular networks.
- Laser cameras work out the speed that a vehicle is travelling by using laser pulses to measure where the vehicle is.
- Radar cameras use radio waves, reflected back at the gun to work out how fast the vehicle is travelling.
- Fixed Speed Cameras are the cameras that we’re used to seeing in fixed locations up and down the county. There are several models, with the most common being the rear facing Gatso and the forward facing Truvelo.
- Mobile Speed Cameras make up a large number of the speed trap sites across the UK, although, as they are not permanent cameras and are manned by the police they’re not all always in use.
On a final note, speed camera detectors are legal in the UK. We get asked this question a lot, because confusion has arisen from a government review, but legislation implemented in January 1998 rules that the detection of speed cameras is legal. (Correct to date: October 2014)
Are you looking to invest in a speed camera detector? Let us know in the comments below if you have any questions!