SPECS average speed cameras explained

SPECS average speed camera systems utilise state of the art video system with Automatic Number Plate Reading (ANPR) digital technology. Each SPECS camera is features infra red illuminators fitted on gantries above the road, so they can work day or night 24/7.

SPECS speed cameras are located in multiple (at least 2 at a minimum of 200 metres apart) locations along a single stretch of road for monitoring your average speed along that particular road. So unlike other fixed speed cameras which capture your speed at a certain point in the road, SPECS average speed camera work and track you speed over a set distance, which may be serveral miles! The shortest average speed check zone in the UK is located on Tower Bridge, London and is just less than a mile in length. While the longest average speed camera zone in the UK can be found on the A9 in Scotland between Dunblane and Inverness and covers some 99 miles!

In 2013, some 127 miles of UK roads were covered by average speed cameras, however by 2016 research obtained by the BBC's The One Show found 51 stretches of road are permanently managed by average speed cameras, covering some 263 miles in total - doubling in 3 years. Average speed cameras are not just made up of SPECS average cameras, but also include VECTOR average speed cameras too. Read more about VECTOR speed cameras.

The rise in popularity of SPECS and VECTOR average speed cameras has come as the cost of installing them has dropped. According to Richard Owen, from Road Safety Analysis the cost of installing a SPECS average speed check zone in the early 2000s was £1.5m per mile, the cost in 2016 is typically about £100,000 per mile.

How do SPECS speed cameras work?

SPECS speed camera systems commonly enforce speed limits on dual carriageways and motorways. SPECS gantry installations can monitor up to four lanes. The SPECS system are located at the side of the road or at central reservations. Cameras are then located at regular intervals to operate a managed speed control zone.

Each SPECS speed camera records a date and time stamp. Then, by ANPR, the computer can then work out your average speed between the cameras with photographic evidence that you were speeding between the SPECS cameras. SPECS speed cameras also record your number plate and issue you a speeding ticket if you were speeding along the average speed controlled stretch of road.

I still find it amazing that travelling along the A40 through the 40mph SPECS average speed check zone I can honestly state I am overtaken by almost every car and van that comes along, very rarely do I see a vehicle travelling the same set speed. After so many years of GATSO's on this road, drivers still only brake for the cameras not realising they are Average Speed Cameras. Comment from UK motorist.

Video of SPECS average speed camera

No film

Unlike other speed cameras SPECS camera don't use film so there is no limit to the number of incriminating motorists it can help to prosecute. Your number plate, date and time stamp are stored by each SPECS camera and then if your average speed between the cameras is above the speed limit you will automatically be issued a speeding fine.

SPECS average speed check zones are becoming more popular

In the past SPECS average speed cameras were used in a minority of counties such as Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire. In more recent ti,es SPECS speed cameras are the favoured choice in motorway roadwork's and road distances covered by average speed cameras (SPECS and VECTOR) have more than doubled between 2013 and 2016.

Furthermore, a number of local authorities are now adopting average speed cameras in favour of the traditional fixed point speed check cameras. For example a number of years ago Cambridgeshire replaced their fixed point Gatso and Truvelo speed cameras along the A14 with a SPECS speed-controlled zone instead. More recently, Lincolnshire have replaced their fixed Gatso cameras on the A15 (just south of Lincoln) with a three camera VECTOR average speed check.

In addition in Cambridgeshire on a very rural road and a notorious accident blackspot location a SPECS average speed system was installed in July 2010. Helping to ensure that motorists keep to the 50mph speed limit along the entire section of road and not just at a speed cameras location. Expect to see more SPECS average speed cameras right across the UK.

The map below depicts the UK's five longest average speed check routes in 2016 - these routes includes both VECTOR and SPECS average speed cameras.

Map depicts the UK's five longest average speed check routes in 2016

What are VECTOR average speed cameras?

In 2014 a new average speed camera named VECTOR also using ANPR technology was launched by the same company behind SPECS - that company named Vysionics. To learn more about VECTOR average speed cameras click here.

SPECS Questions and Answers

Question: Given the density of traffic on some motorways can average speed cameras really compute every vehicle that goes past and calculate average speed as they pass the next camera? Or is it in reality triggered by cars exceeding the speed on the first or subsequent camera?

Answer: Yes, average speed cameras photo each and every single passing vehicle, this is how they work.

Question: There is now an average speed limit of 50 mph on a stretch of the A406, monitored by cameras. Suppose my speed averages 45 mph through this stretch, but I'm travelling at 55mph at one point. Can a police office who observes me at 55mph book me for speeding?

Answer: Fixed point speed cameras e.g. SPECS average speed cameras and the actions of an individual Police officer and/or other separate device for recording/monitoring/enforcing speeding e.g. mobile speed camera van can and do all operate independently of each other. Therefore if a Police office observes you speeding, yes he or she can issue you with speeding ticket.

Question: SPECS average speed cameras are located over each lane on motorways and dual carriageways. If I change lanes say between the first and last cameras would my car and average speed still be detected?

Answer: Yes, your vehicle average speed is recorded between two or more SPECS average speed cameras positions. Changing lanes between will have no bearing as SPECS cameras are not paired on Individual lanes, but between different sets of SPECS cameras.

Question: Just a quick question regarding specs camera. Today I passed 7 SPECS cameras, if my average speed was above the speed limit shown past each camera would I get a ticket for every camera apart from the first camera? Meaning I could potentially get a £600 fine and loss of licence (18 points) over a 4 mile stretch.

Answer: SPECS average speed cameras are not normally paired between each and every camera. Average cameras are often paired between say the second and last camera in the sequence. Of course the actual pairings will ONLY be known by the camera operator and/or Police authority. I certainly would be very surprised to hear that you or any motorist was prosecuted multiple times at a single SPECS average speed check zone. If however the average speed check zone ends and then starts again within the 4 mile stretch and thus becoming a new SPECS speed check, then in this instance you may be prosecuted more than once.

Question: Are the SPECS average speed cameras the most common form of the average speed cameras? Are there any speed cameras these detectors do not detect?

Answer: SPECS average speed cameras are often used in roadwork's on motorways. However a new alternative average speed camera named VECTOR are now popping up across the country and increasingly in urban areas too. So average speed cameras are on the increase and in time VECTOR cameras may out number SPECS cameras?

A GPS based speed camera detector such as the Snooper 4ZERO and Road Angel Gem+ Deluxe features a GPS database of fixed and mobile speed camera locations. As long as the location is in the GPS database, you will receive advanced warning. If they have just been installed and are not in an updated database, then they will be completely undetectable.

Question: On the A9 two speed limits apply covered by the average speed cameras. HGV's at 50mph and cars at 60mph. Can the cameras differentiate between the two vehicle types or are the cameras set at the higher limit. I ask this as HGV seem to be travelling far in excess of the 50 limit and I do not see any results showing great levels of fines on this category.

Answer: The information we have seen suggests that the average speed cameras sited on the A9 can differentiate between different classes of vehicles travelling at different speeds.

However, SpeedCamerasUK.com is not connected with any UK Police or other local authority. We don't run, install or operate any speed camera - we just list where they are and information about them. To confirm the answer I would recommend your contact either the local Police or council authority.

Question: Thanks for all the excellent information provided by yourselves on all speed cameras, but the question I have is...

Does an average speed camera area have to display a sign saying that it is an average speed area, or can they just go on the usual speed camera sign?

Answer: I'm not sure if there are any ACPO or government guidelines on this. I think as a minimum the standard speed camera sign/logo needs to be displayed ahead of a speed camera location, be it Gatso, SPECS, Truvelo, etc.

Question: General question on average speed cameras: On a 40mph stretch of road coverd by two cameras, what if I drivde through the first camera at 70mph, stop midway for a meal and a sleep of say, 2 hours, then accelerate away and drive through the second camera at 70mph will my 'average speed' still be recorded as under 40mph?

Answer: Each average speed camera you pass takes a photo of your vehicle, these photos are digitally date and time stamped.

To calculate your average speed, SPECS and VECTOR average speed check system uses the date/time that is recorded when passing each camera location.

Question: I have a question about SPECS I understand how they work, that they monitor average speed across part of the road and those who go above get a ticket. My question is does the threshold of 10% + 1mph still apply like they do for most cameras, so for example in a 50mph zone the threshold would be anyone traveling 56mph would get a ticket, or is it anyone who's average speed was over 50mph exactly ?

Answer: I'm afraid we don't have the answer to your question. It will only be known by the camera operator(s).

While the ACPO guidelines say 10% + 2mph, we have had reports from motorists that the threshold with some Police forces is much lower than that. So it would very much depend on the Police force where the camera system is located and will ONLY been known by them.

Question: As average speed cameras don't flash, do they work in the dark?

Answer: Yes, SPECS and VECTOR average speed camera use infra-red so they can operate 24/7.

Question: I've looked everywhere I can't believe no one has asked this question: the average speed check cameras SPECS and even new VECTOR etc, that are now popping up in many locations across London with more to come no doubt. Do they only take images of the front of the vehicle. The front number plate not rear. It seems that way to me. So if say someone is riding a motorcycle which does not require a front facing number plate; are they unable to be prosecuted by these average speed cameras?

Answer: Motorcyclists number plate is not recorded via a forward facing Truvelo, Truvelo D-Cam, VECTOR or SPECS speed camera system.

Question: I often travel along various stretches of the M1 that currently have an average speed check (50mph). I of course travel at 50mph judged by my sat nav and in-car speedometer but am regularly overtaken by other cars going significantly faster. How can this be? Are they perhaps counting on the % leniency? I can't believe that ALL of these people are receiving fines otherwise surely there would be fewer people doing it.

Question: How are the timing clocks synchronised in SPECS average speed cameras. If camera 1, 2, 3, and 4 positioned monitoring a 20 mile stretch of carriageway have clocks set at different times when monitoring traffic average speed surely this would provide incorrect speed results over the measured distance between each camera section. If camera clocks were not synchronised this could mean that drivers average speed is more than it actually is and issue a speeding ticket.

Question: What standards are your SPEC's cameras taking images of vehicles to? Are they in conformance with BS ISO 16505:2015?

Answer: We don't have the foggiest. Your best bet would be to contract either your local Police/Authority or the manufacturer of the SPECS average speed check cameras.

SpeedCamerasUK.com is not connected with any UK Police or other local authority. We don't run, install or operate any speed camera - we just list where they are and information about them.

Question: On several motorway and trunk roads, with Specs Cameras and with the speed limit signs all along the road. I have on many occasions, been overtaken by vehicles at very high speed, many at the legal limit on a motorway. I have had lorries almost touching my rear bumper at 40mph or 50mph as the limit was showing, flashing lights and blowing horns. Surely if the cameras were actually working units lorries would know and keep to the speed limit? It appears to me that regular road users have found that no summons have been issued and that there is no need to follow speed limit signs, and cameras are dummies. Have you had this query before?

Answer: No, this is the first we've heard of this. Although I can say that not all motorists understand how SPECS average speed cameras work. A lot of motorists wrongly think that it's only at the camera point that you need to be driving at the speed limit, which is far from the reality. It could be that it's known that the cameras aren't (yet) live, but I'd personally not chance it and stick to the posted speed limit on the road.

From our terms of use page we say "Average speed camera zones: these cameras check your speed over several miles and often between several cameras. It is no good slowing down at each camera and then speeding up and overtaking every other car and slowing down at the next camera. If you have driven at 70mph in any part of an average speed zone, despite slowing to 30, 40 or 50mph for a camera, then it is highly likely that you will be prosecuted."

Question: Today I got a speeding ticket whilst going to work as I was doing 65mph in a 50mph between two junctions of the motorway. Between these two junctions where I got caught I would say there are four average cameras.

However, I thought average speed cameras work between the first and last camera you pass and not between the first and 4th camera?

My issue is I pass seven junctions to get to work and the average speed cameras are all the way on this route. So really shouldn't my average speed be between the first camera I pass and say the 14th camera I pass as I would say there are about 14 cameras on this route?

Answer: Average speed cameras can be paired between any camera position and not necessary as you've found the first and last camera in the series. This is to take into account people joining and exiting the road where the average speed check has been deployed. When driving through an average speed camera zone you need to maintain the average speed between all camera positions. To help you achieve this, the Road Angel Gem+ speed camera detector includes a colour screen (pictured right) which displays your average speed from the first camera position to your current location.

Question: I pass through an area of average speed cameras regularly. However, there are occasions when I only pass one of the cameras from where I come on to the motorway until where the monitoring zone ends. Do the average speed cameras work the same way as a conventional camera does as well as monitoring the average between set points? i.e if the limit is 50mph within the zone but I am only passing one camera at say 70mph would I be ticketed? I wouldn't assume so as there is no way of monitoring the average between 2 points

Answer: Average speed cameras need two or more cameras paired together to record the average speed of a passing vehicle.

If the section of road you are driving only has a single average speed, then there is no way your average speed can be calculated… not unless you've missed the second camera?

Question: I would like to understand how SPECS speed average cameras work on long stretches of road works. I understand if there are two cameras some distance apart that your plate is tracked between the two cameras and the average speed calculated from the traverse time. But what if there are a series of SPECS cameras over a number of miles of roadwork's - is it the average speed from the first one to the last one you pass? Or is it a series of averages between each successive pair of cameras ?

Answer: That is only known by the SPECS speed camera installer and local authority/Police authority. Our advice would be to stick to speed limit throughout the COMPLETE zone. Speed cameras detectors such as the Road Angel Gem Plus include an on-screen speed readout with your average speed shown throughout the complete SPECS or other average speed camera enforced zone.

Question: Roadwork's on the A14 on the Histon to Milton area. The first speed camera is sat in the 50mph zone by the Histon exit and then the second is then set on the Milton Exit which is then a 70mph road. If a car is doing 60mph, then 50mph then it goes to 70mph, will the speed cameras catch the car for speeding even though the signs state 50mph then the national speed limit? Will it do an average speed check and then determine the average speed the car was travelling?

Answer: SPECS average speed check zones are controlled by a single speed limit e.g. 50mph throughout the complete section of road covered by the overhead cameras.

The A14 normally has a speed limit of 70mph, however during the current roadwork's it has been reported to us that the speed limit has been reduced to 50mph. Therefore the average speed you need to maintain to be within the correct speed limit is 50mph. If as you say you've seen a national speed limit, this could be a) in error i.e. not covered up, or b) after the 50mph SPECS controlled average speed check zone ends.

Question: I have a question about the yellow average speed cameras. Today I was driving in London and drove through a set of 30mph average cameras. The 30mph sign appeared only just before the first set of cameras. I was driving a little over 30mph. The next set of cameras was less than 50feet away and then there were no more. I have not seen this set up before and I was wondering, as the distance was so short between cameras, whether they would have been live and an average speed would have been worked out.

Answer: For average speed cameras e.g. SPECS or VECTOR to operate they need at least two points of fixed cameras. When driving passed each camera a digital stamped image of your vehicle is taken, your average speed between the two points is then calculated.

I cannot say whether the camera system you drove past was operational or not. However, any distance no matter how short can be used to provide an average speed. As after all, fixed speed cameras such as Gatso's record your speed within a distance of no more than 5 metres.

Question: If upon arriving at an average speed camera setup of 50mph travelling around 55mph but then slowing down to almost 40mph before the last camera will a fine be issued? This was a two camera location setup only.

Question: I was on the A12 keeping to the 40mph average speed limit but at one point for about 100yards I hit 50mph but once I noticed a reduced back down to 40mph. Am I likely to get a penalty for this?

Answer: Those questions are impossible to answer as it depends on two factors:

1. The speed threshold of the average speed camera system e.g. 52mph/42mph – the speed at which a NIP (Notice of Intended Prosecution) is generated.

2. The point at which you slowed down to or below 50mph/40mph and thus your average speed between the SPECS cameras was within the enforced road speed limit.

Question: This morning I joined from the slip road onto A180 and went through the last average speed camera - slightly over the limit. However I didn't drive through the two average speed cameras before it (they are on the stretch of road prior to the slip road). Do you have to drive through all three average speed cameras to be caught speeding or will I be fined for going through only one of the SPECS average cameras too fast?

Answer: SPECS average speed cameras need to be paired with at least two cameras. If you only drove through a single SPECS camera, then there will be no average speed data captured/available for your vehicle.

Normally though SPECS cameras are positioned at all entrance and exit slip roads and then at the end of the average speed enforced zone, to record your vehicles average speed through the zone. Could you have missed a SPECS camera?

Question: If driving through a section of road that is an "Average speed check" surely it is an average of 40mph over a specified distance, as opposed to 40mph full stop. Is that correct?

Answer: Yes, that is correct; it's your average speed between the SPECS camera locations that record and time/date stamp your vehicles speed. So if for example you sped up to 45mph briefly to allow a vehicle out of a slip road, before driving back at or below 40mph, and overall your average speed was 40mph then you would have complied with the law.

Speed camera detectors such as the Road Angel Gem+ Deluxe displays the following information on screen when driving through a SPECS average speed check zone:

‣Your vehicles speed in mph (via GPS satellite/positioning)
‣The road speed limit
‣Your average speed since the start of the SPECS average speed camera zone

Ask your own question and read comments in general about speed cameras in the UK.

Question: Do any of your speed detector devices actually display the actual AVERAGE speed that you are driving through in an average speed camera zone or does it just tell you what the speed zone's limit is and what specific speed you are driving at any specific time?

Answer: Yes we do and the speed camera detector is called the Road Angel Gem+/Gem+ Deluxe.

When driving through an average speed check zone the Road Angel Gem+ Deluxe displays THREE speed readouts on the units colour screen, these include:

‣Your vehicles speed
‣The road/enforced speed limit
‣Your vehicles average since the start of the zone

Subsquent Question: Just a quick further clarification please, regarding the average in the zone - is it over the entire zone or does it calculate based on each checkpoint camera within the zone?

Reason I ask is I commute into London every day on a motorbike (so its very hard to stick to average limits while filtering!) and our dear Boris is installing an average camera system on the A40 all the way from the airfield near the M25 to the end of the Paddington flyover. There are about 6-8 cameras throughout where some are a very long way apart but some are quite close. I understand that they would issue a ticket, even if the whole was at the average, but anything was over between any two of the camera sites. The real number I need to see is the average between each camera site rather than over the whole stretch.

Subsquent Answer: The average speed shown on the Road Angel Gem+ Deluxe screen is from the first camera to the last camera in the complete average speed check zone, so all 6-8 cameras in the case of the A40. The device doesn't record or show your average speed between camera points.

However, it is worth noting that average speed cameras are NOT necessarily paired with the next or proceeding camera. So take for example a section of road which is covered by four average speed cameras - Camera 1, Camera 2, Camera 3 and Camera 4. The cameras used to calculate your actual average speed may in fact be Camera 2 and Camera 4.

Therefore to ensure you are within the speed limit when riding or driving through average speed cameras you need to maintain your average speed at or below the speed limit throughout the complete zone. The Road Angel Gem+ will certainly help you to do this.

Ask your own question and read comments in general about speed cameras in the UK.

Points and Penalties

The absolute minimum penalty for being caught speeding on the UK's roads increased 66.7% in July 2013 from £60 to £100 fine. A minimum of 3 penalty points will also be added to your licence.

However, depending on the road speed limit and your actual recorded speed in the speeding offence a court summons may be generated in place of the Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) through the post. For more information click here.

SPECS locations

What's your view and experiences with SPECS speed cameras? Tell us here.

We also have a UK database of speed camera locations. This database also includes Gatso, SpeedCurb, Truvelo, Truvelo D-Cam, Peek, Traffic Light safety cameras and more.

To read more about other speed camera types click here.

Speed camera alerts as you drive

Did you know you can be alerted to where SPECS and other speed cameras are along UK roads via in car devices? These systems include dedicated speed camera detectors, sat navs with speed camera locations and various apps for smartphones. To read more view our buyers guide which talks you through the various features and different technology the different systems use. We also have dedicated reviews for each product with user comments.

We also sell a range of speed camera detectors which you can browse via our online shop. We only stock systems that we consider will give you the best, most accurate, reliable and frequently updated speed camera databases. So whether you are a motorist, truck driver or caravanist you can rest assured you have the best speed camera warning system.

Click here to visit our online detector shop.

Last updated: 2nd June 2016