Have I been caught speeding?
I took my bike out for a cold but spirited ride at the weekend. However, I passed a liveried-up 'Safety Camera Partnership' van probably a bit quicker than I should have.
I didn't see a camera flash or anything. Have I been caught, do you think? I am even more confused by these new 'smart motorway' gantry cameras. I passed a sign that was showing 60mph and I was doing 70mph. Will I get a ticket?
The middle of January marked the start of TisPol's speed-enforcement week. You may not have heard of TisPol but it is the European Traffic Police Network. That is likely to become a thing of the past for UK bikers riding the roads in Great Britain, given Brexit on the horizon; however, speed enforcement in its various forms is most definitely not going anywhere.
The police use a number of methods to enforce speed, from hand-held laser devices to 'smart' motorway average-speed-check cameras.
The van you mention more likely than not had an LTi2020 unit mounted inside it. As a police officer, I was trained on the LTi2020, which is the UK police laser device of choice. It is a Home Office-approved device and used by most, If not all, of the 43 police forces in England and Wales.
The device is hand-held and can be used by an officer on foot or in a patrol car. It can also be mounted on a metal chassis in the back of 'Speed Enforcement Vans' which can be parked up on the roadside or motorway bridges. The operator has the choice of using the rear-window ports or the side-window port to aim the device.
The operator has the best chance of getting a speed reading by aiming at flat, reflective surfaces of your motorcycle. The side of a pannier on a touring BMW is perfect: the nosecone of an R1 is not so good but it will still give a speed reading.
In my experience, as a former operator of the LTi2020, it usually means the motorcycle has to be closer to the laser device before the device gives a reading. Flat surfaces can be targeted from further away and a speed reading obtained. Be aware though that in the van, these devices are hooked up to a DVD recorder so the operator is recording everything he is targeting. This video can be used as evidence for other offences.
Identification can be tricky for camera operators as they need to swing around to get the registration number for motorcycles once they have passed. Some vans are fitted with 360' cameras to record passing vehicles and the operator would need to review this to get the registration number; then begins the process of obtaining details from the DVLA of the owner or keeper before writing to you with a Notice of intended Prosecution (NIP).
The government has made a real push to modernise our motorways with 'smart motorways' which are littered with average-speed-check cameras. These are usually HADEC 3 cameras which can be seen clinging to the left-hand side of overhead gantries. By the time you see these. It's too late, as they would have checked your registration number 50 or 100 yards prior with a camera, usually seen as a grey three-headed CCTV-type unit but newer versions are a single unit. These do not always flash and can operate during low-light conditions with infrared technology. The smart aspect of these roads is the ability to change the speed limit in real time and control traffic flow.
In either case, as you were not stopped at the time of the alleged offence, you need to sit tight and wait for an NIP. It should be delivered within 14 days from the date of the alleged offence; if it hasn't arrived you can likely breathe a sigh of relief. If your bike was a lease or business vehicle, it could take longer for you to hear from the authorities. This is only the first step in the process so you may want to take legal advice on your options if an NIP arrives.
Gavin Grewal, Partner
RiDE April 2019