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UK speed camera tolerances revealed

Speed cameras in general cause no end of confusion for motorists. And one of the more common questions is do speed cameras have tolerance before they flash you?

According to research by Auto Express, the answer to this last question is ‘Yes – they do’.

By the way, the idea that all speed cameras flash is a myth – many of them catch you with infra-red technology instead. So, no flash doesn’t automatically mean no speeding ticket!

Here's what you need to know about speed camera tolerances.

Speed camera over a busy motorway

 

UK fixed and mobile speed camera tolerances

So how many mph over the speed limit can you go?

A 2019 Auto Express survey contacted 45 UK police forces. Of the 33 that responded, 25 shared information about when their speed cameras activate if a driver is going above the speed limit.

Most police forces have a tolerance of 10% plus 2 mph above the limit before a speed camera ‘flashes’. So on a 30 mph road, a camera wouldn’t normally activate unless a car drove past at 35 mph or faster.

On a 70 mph stretch of motorway, the threshold would go up to 79 mph.

Here are the replies of the 33 forces that responded:

Police force Speed camera tolerance
Avon and Somerset
10% + 2 mph
Bedfordshire
Wouldn't reveal threshold
Cambridgeshire
Wouldn't reveal threshold
Cheshire
10% + 2 mph
Cleveland
10% + 2 mph
Derbyshire
10% + 2 mph
Devon and Cornwall
10% + 2 mph
Durham
10% + 2 mph
Essex
Don't use a standard threshold
Greater Manchester
Wouldn't reveal threshold
Gwent
10% + 2 mph
Hampshire
10% + 2 mph
Hertfordshire
Wouldn't reveal threshold
Kent
10% + 2 mph
Lancashire
10% + 3 mph
Leicestershire
10% + 2 mph
Merseyside
10% + 2 mph
Metropolitan Police / TfL
10% + 3 mph
Norfolk
10% + 2 mph
North Wales
10% + 2 mph
Northumbria
10% + 2 mph
Nottinghamshire
Wouldn't confirm if threshold exists
Northern Ireland
10% + 2 mph
Scotland
Wouldn't confirm if threshold exists
South Wales
10% + 2 mph
South Yorkshire
10% + 2 mph
Staffordshire
Wouldn't reveal threshold
Suffolk
10% + 2 mph
Thames Valley
10% + 2 mph
Warwickshire
10% + 2 mph
West Mercia
10% + 2 mph
West Midlands
Wouldn't reveal threshold
West Yorkshire
10% + 2 mph

This speed camera tolerance exists in order to improve driver safety. It means that drivers don’t have their eyes fixed on their speedometer instead of the road.

 

Do average speed camera tolerances work in the same way?

Average speed cameras work slightly differently to normal fixed and mobile speed cameras. Instead of measuring your speed over a short distance, average speed cameras take your speed over several miles.

This means they should be more accurate and so might not have the same tolerance levels as other speed cameras. That being said, all speed cameras should have some kind tolerance built in to account for accuracy.

 

What's the range of a mobile speed camera van?

The typical range of a mobile speed camera van is around 1-2 miles on a straight stretch of road. As you might expect, they can't see through or around bends. The speed detecting technology used also impacts the overall range of the mobile speed camera.

 

How much over the speed limit can you go before getting a ticket?

Technically, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) can allow tolerance of 10% + 2 mph on speeding before taking punitive action. Depending on the severity of the speeding offence, you might:

  • Be offered to take a speed awareness course
  • Get a fine
  • Have points on your licence
  • Be banned from driving

It’s worth remembering that speed camera tolerances – where they exist – are used at the discretion of the police to follow the rules around speeding, speed cameras, and the law.

So they’re within their rights to punish drivers that flout the speed limit by even just a few miles per hour. You can’t rely on these discretionary thresholds as a defence if you’re flagged for speeding.

It’s also dangerous – speed limits are there for a reason in the first place.

These speed camera tolerances aren't some 'get out of jail free' card. Going even 1 mile an hour over the speed limit counts as speeding, and you could be punished accordingly if caught.

 

How many cars can a speed camera van catch at once?

Mobile speed cameras can catch speeding vehicles in either direction, coming towards or away from the speed camera van. Only 1 car can be captured at any one time, but the technology works incredibly fast. They can usually record a car’s speed quickly and move onto another vehicle.

Don't assume you can lose yourself in the general thrum of traffic to dodge a speeding fine.

 

What are the penalties for speeding in the UK?

If the offence is minor, you might be asked to go on a speed awareness course rather than take the fine and points.

For more serious offences, though, that option isn’t on the table and you face a fine, points on your licence and a possible ban.

Speeding fines are based on a percentage of your weekly income, with the minimum fine being £100. For reference, the median weekly UK income last year was £611.

This is in addition to getting points on your licence. Our speeding fine calculator lets you work out any potential fine.

 

I've been flashed by a mobile speed camera van. How long will it be before I get a ticket?

If you've been flashed by a speed camera - whether mobile or fixed, you should get your Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) within 14 days of the offence. The NIP is sent to the car's registered keeper, taken from DVLA information about the car based on its number plate.

This means you might get a speeding ticket sent to you if one of your named drivers was the one doing the speeding.

 

Do I need to tell my car insurance company about a speeding ticket?

Yes - you have to declare any speeding convictions or points on your driving licence to your car insurance company.

Although points remain on your licence for 4 years, insurers use them in their calculations for 5 years.

As a result, you could see your car insurance costs hiked up because insurers might deem you to be a bigger risk

According to research by Consumer Intelligence, a speeding conviction adds £50 to your annual car insurance costs, on average.

That’s an additional £250 to pay while that conviction remains on your record.

The research also found that motorway speeding offences increased costs by more than £100 a year.

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