Phantomplate... anti-flash spray... protection against speed cameras.

Speed Cameras... a brief Summary.
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GATSO. Speedcurb.
TRUVELO. Peek.
SPECS. Concept digital DVD.
RADAR. The IDEE Machine.
VASCAR. Traffic Light.
LIDAR. ANPR.
Pacing. Trafficmaster.
RedSpeed. Cat's Eyes Cameras.
Watchman. Detectors.
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Introduction.
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Speed Cameras can be placed in two broad categories... Fixed: [Gatso: Truvelo: and Specs] or Mobile: [Radar: Vascar: Lidar: and now Concept digital DVD.]  Anything that is Fixed can be programmed into a Database so the driver can be informed that he is approaching a Camera by a GPS based device.  Radar and Lidar use some kind of reflected beam which can be detected so the driver could be given a warning.  While Vascar is a system that relies on eyesight... making it undetectable.  
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2007... there are about 6,000 photographic cameras in the UK... [the Government says they have plans to triple this number over the next few years to about 18,000... and with fewer warning signs... or restrictions on selecting sites.]  And there are over 40 approved devices used to measure speed on the UK's roads... each one with their own specific rules for use.  The following is just a brief outline of some of the more common examples...
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For all the Do's and Don't... associated with getting a Ticket... have a look at this website... UK-Driving-Secrets.  Written by a Traffic Policeman with years of on-the-job experience... it gives Legal tips on all aspects of driving... getting stopped... appealing against various tickets... and taking the fight to Court... in a downloadable ebook.  Have a look at their advert... they give a brief outline of everything they cover... [the kind of Information that an ordinary Solicitor probably wouldn't tell you about.]
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GATSO.
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GATSO is the name given to the Dutch-made 'Photographic Trap' system used in the UK and other European Countries.  Gatso traps are unmanned and take a photograph of the rear of offending vehicles.  
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Speeding convictions are processed automatically and dealt with through the Postal system.  Normally a 'fixed penalty' is the price paid for a Gatso offence... typically a 60 fine and 3 penalty points.  Stiffer penalties and fines [and a Court appearance] occur in circumstances where the posted speed limit was broken by a sizeable margin.

Gatso speed Camera

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Gatso traps operate on K band radar and are therefore detectable by most good Radar Detectors.  GPS based systems are also able to locate Gatso sites, although in a different way.  The majority of Gatso sites are inactive... the average ratio is one 'live' camera site for every five boxes... although in some areas it is as much as 1 in 3.  Even 'inactive' sites will appear to take photographs of passing vehicles by flashing at them.  However, since no photographic equipment is installed, no photographs can be taken.  [Check out...
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Speedtraps UK. Snooper. RoadPilot. Road Angel GPS.
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If the Gatso system is fully loaded it is transmitting K band radar signals constantly, monitoring the speed of every vehicle that passes.  If a vehicle passes the site exceeding the systems pre-set limit [normally the limit is set at 10% above the posted limit plus 2mph] two photographs are taken less than a second apart.  To an observer it is impossible to tell whether a site is live or not.  Only Radar Detector owners can tell whether a Gatso site is active or not.
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In addition to the standard Gatso system, there is also a special version that has been developed to catch motorists who 'jump' red lights.  These use induction loops in the road surface and therefore, cannot be detected
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TRUVELO.
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TRUVELO is the name given to another type of speed camera used on the UK's roads.  Truvelo looks very similar to Gatso but can be identified because they are usually blue in colour... twin lenses on the front... and by the fact that it faces the oncoming traffic.  
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However... unlike Gatso, Truvelo uses induction loops in the road surface to gauge a vehicle's speed.  This makes it undetectable by conventional radar/laser detectors... but like Gatso it can be located by any GPS based detection product.

Truvelo speed Camera

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SPECS.
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SPECS is the name of the much hyped 'DIGITAL' speed camera system, currently being deployed in a small number of locations around the country.  SVDD [Speed Violation Detection Deterrent] is the digital brain which the SPECS system is based upon.  It is a state of the art video system with number plate recognition built in... consisting of two digital video cameras each fitted with Infra-red illuminators.
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They are fitted at the roadside a set distance apart, [perhaps many miles apart] on a special mounting pole, bridge, or any other suitable point.  Linked together via computer... SPECS takes an image of every vehicle that passes the first camera point... speeding or not.  Then [by using optical character recognition] the vehicle's registration number, time and date is recorded.
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When a vehicle passes the second camera point, the same information is recorded.  The SPECS system is then able to calculate how long it has taken each vehicle to travel between the two fixed points.  An average speed is calculated.  If the average speed exceeds the pre-set limit a fine will be issued automatically.

SPECS speed Camera

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The computer will store the details... and then periodically dial out to the DVLA's computer to gather the driver's details.  A Notice of Intended Prosecution is then generated and mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle.  The "advantage" of the SPECS system [over the standard Gatso system] is that it never runs out of film... because it doesn't use film... instead it stores the video images digitally.  SPECS doesn't emit a signal of any kind and is therefore undetectable by conventional radar/laser detectors.  Only GPS based systems are able to inform you of the presence of SPECS.
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Road Angel GPS

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Protection against SPECS.  Here's a little known loophole... "a prosecution can only be valid if you stay in the same lane".  The cameras are not always easy to spot... so if you happen to be travelling through roadworks make sure you change lanes at least once.  SPECS cameras work out the vehicles average speed by calculating the time it took to drive between two camera positions.  However, under Home Office rules... speeding prosecutions are ONLY valid if a driver is filmed in the SAME lane... from the start to the finish of each section of road covered by the cameras.  According to the manufacturers of the SPECS cameras... the devices were approved by the Home Office in 1999... passing strict tests for use in one lane at a time.  However... there was not enough time or finances to extend Home Office approval tests to cover the cameras' use over two or three lanes at a time... and, strangely, since then nothing has changed!  So the message is... if you're going through roadwork's or you see a SPECS system... if at all possible change to a different lane.  Or, even better still... stick to the speed limit!
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RADAR.
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RADAR stands for Radio Detecting And Ranging.  Radar based systems operate by transmitting radio waves at certain frequencies which reflect off objects and are then picked up by the radar system's receiving section.  When a radar beam reflects off a moving object, a measurable frequency shift occurs.  The radar system then converts this shift into miles per hour to determine the vehicles speed.
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Radar Frequencies.  Globally, there are ten different sets of frequencies used for speed monitoring.  In the UK only two radar frequencies are used... K band and Ku band [in a very limited way.]  Coverage of frequencies other than K & Ku will cause a detector to false alarm at devices such as traffic lights, supermarket doors [X band devices] and many mobile telephones and their transmitters [Ka band.]  Other European Countries use a combination of frequencies.  Currently, the only radar detectors capable of detecting ALL frequencies used worldwide are the Beltronics Target Euro 550 and the older Bel 990 International.
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VASCAR.
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VASCAR is an acronym for Visual Average Speed Computer And Recorder.  This is little more than a glorified stopwatch.  It is a simple timing based enforcement technique whereby a vehicle is timed over a set distance [for example, between two painted white markings on the road surface or two motorway bridges,] from which an average speed is then automatically calculated.  Vascar is operated by a qualified traffic policeman and is unfortunately at the mercy of 'human error'.  No radio waves or beams of light are emitted... therefore, Vascar is unable to be detected by any type of radar/laser or GPS based detectors.
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This system comes in a variety of forms and is used mostly in motorway situations.  Due to the need for good visibility Vascar should only be used in daylight or on well lit areas of road.  Poor weather conditions such as heavy rain and fog will also mean that Vascar cannot be used.  Vascar is not the most sophisticated system in the world and as time passes it is expected that it will be replaced by more accurate and up-to-date speed measuring systems.  Already some Police Forces in the UK have taken Vascar systems out of service following successful legal defences by members of the public.
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LIDAR.
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LIDAR stands for Light Detection And Ranging.  This Laser Speed Detection System uses a Laser Gun that emits infra-red light pulses just outside the spectrum of visible light.  Each pulse measures the distance to any object that reflects the laser.  The speed of the object coming towards the laser gun is calculated by measuring how quickly the pulses are reflected back into the gun.  Unlike radar signals, the output of the laser gun is a very narrow beam of light, so that it can pinpoint a single speeding car within traffic.  The infra-red beam spreads out but slowly and over a longer distance.
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So, how can a radar/laser detector, detect a laser beam?  Well, a good quality detector will offer both good main beam laser detection and also [and more importantly] detection of what is called 'off axis energy'.  As the laser signal travels through the air, the beam is actually wider than the nominal main beam.  This is caused by scattering of the laser energy when it encounters water vapour... or pockets of warm or cold air... in the atmosphere.  This scattering makes the beam appear considerably wider than that claimed by the laser gun manufacturer.
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A laser gun has a maximum effective range of about 2,000ft. [circa 600 metres] although it is rarely used at such distances... 1,000ft. [300 metres] being the average operating distance.  Laser gun technology is now also used in the infamous 'safety camera van' system now deployed on the UK's roads.
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The all New Road Angel Navigator - GPS Sat Nav and Speed Trap Detector Combined

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It should be pointed out that detecting a laser signal is not easy... and even the best equipment will not be successful 100% of the time.  There are circumstances where a laser detector can be ineffective... such as when no vehicles are being targeted ahead of you.  Since there will be no 'scatter' to pick-up, your detector will only alarm when the laser gun is pointed at you... and the trigger is pressed.  Although your laser detector will warn you at this point... it will be to late... the laser system will already have registered your speed.  
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[Read News Story 18... The Laser Cameras that do lie...]
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Protection against Laser.  It has been suggested on a number of sites... that operators tend to focus the Laser on your front number plate... rather than other sloping parts of the vehicle... slightly tilting it up in the air or towards the ground makes it more difficult to get a reading.  Don't actually know if this is true or not!!
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Pacing.
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Pacing is perhaps the most basic form of speed detection.  This is basically, where a Police car will follow a vehicle for a while and record their speed.  Most likely they will be following behind... but they could be up ahead... or even travelling along side... [which you might not notice, especially if they are using an unmarked car.]  This might also be the most damning of evidence as the offence may also have been recorded on video.  [However, if you get pulled over by normal Police... rather than Traffic Police... they may not have a calibrated speedo or any video evidence... so don't admit to anything.]
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RedSpeed
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RedSpeed cameras are digital and transmit data via phone to a central office... which is done within a couple of minutes.  The cameras are bright yellow and mounted on the top of 15ft poles... mainly to deter vandals.  Vehicles are detected using inductive loops buried in the road surface... radar detectors won't pick them up.... but a GPS based system could be programmed to alert drivers of their presence.  From mid-2006... expect to see them sprouting up like mushrooms.
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[See the RedSpeed website to learn more.]
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Watchman.
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Watchman Speed cameras use radar similar to the Gatso Speed Camera, a constant stream of radar is emitted and speed is calculated as a vehicle passes through, triggering the camera.  The difference with the Watchman Speed Camera is that it can monitor the speed of a vehicle before you pass it.
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There are also two types of camera built into the head unit.  One is used to take an overview of the road and the other is used as a Number Plate Recognition System.  You will often see Watchman speed cameras accompanied by a "speed board" which displays the speed limit for that particular stretch of road.

Watchman speed Camera

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Speedcurb.
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Speedcurb speed cameras use embedded magnetic stripes or piezo electric devices within the roads surface to calculate the speed of a vehicle as it passes over them, [3 white-lines in the road, painted just before the camera.]
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These speed cameras are very rare at the moment.  Fixed Speedcurb speed cameras are rear facing.  This is so the cameras flash does not blind oncoming motorists.   The fixed Speedcurb camera has the ability to take up to 400 pictures and like the Gatso the film may only last a few hours, soon recouping there cost.

Speedcurb speed Camera

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Peek.
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Peek Speed Cameras use either embedded magnetic stripes or piezo electric devices within the roads surface to calculate the speed of a vehicle as it passes over them or Radar like the Gatso.
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Peek Speed Cameras are also accompanied by lines on the road similar to the Gatso type cameras.  The most popular in the UK is the Radar which is similar in design to a rear facing Gatso using a normal double-flash.  It is still possible to see Peek Speed Cameras in use but they are becoming rare.

Peek speed Camera

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Concept digital DVD.
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Made and sold by UK company Tele-Traffic UK.  Is a mobile speed detection unit which can be set up on things like motorway bridges.  Has 'instant playback' so Police can identify the driver... and look for any other offences like... using a mobile phone: not wearing a seatbelt: lighting a cigarette: or even eating a sandwich.  Under new guidelines drawn up for prosecutors... any of these type of offences can be considered 'serious' if they seem to interfere with the driver's ability to control their vehicle.  They can carry a 60 Fine and 3 points on a Licence... or up to 2 years in prison if the offence contributed to 'dangerous driving'.  More than 100 of these units have been purchased and will be rolled out across the country during 2008.  They are expected to massively increase the number of drivers who are prosecuted for relatively minor offences.  In a notorious sting by journalists, posing as potential buyers... the manufacturers described these cameras as a 'scam'... and said that setting up one of their machines was like having 'a blank chequebook'... and would result in 'bucketfuls' of cash.
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The IDEE Machine...
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which stands for... "Innovative Digital Enforcement Environment"... is already in use in Holland... and it is believed that the Dutch manufacturer is now planning to bring it to the UK.  The camera has so many vandal proof features it has been dubbed the "The toughest in the World" by the manufacturer.  This monster is about 13 ft. tall... is Smoke and Fire resistant... in order to deter the growing number of camera vandals... it has 4 cameras which can monitor 2 Lanes in both directions... and it operates in the Infra-red range so you don't know when you have triggered it.  [You should be able to view one on this link... IDEE Machine.]
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Traffic Light Cameras.
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Traffic light cameras are triggered either by using ground loops that are cut into road surface or radar technology.  When using the loop system, as the traffic lights turn red the system becomes active, any vehicle passing over the sensor in the road after this time is then photographed.  
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Radar based traffic light cameras work using radar signals like the Gatso speed camera system.  The traffic light camera was originally used to measure red light offences.  It can now also be used in combination with speed measurement, similar to that of a Gatso speed camera.  So you could ultimately end with a speeding offence and a traffic light offence.

Traffic Light speed Camera

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ANPR: [Automatic Number Plate Recognition.
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ANPR reads your number plates from digital images captured through CCTV Cameras.  This system is able to cross reference the data against a variety of databases, for example the Police National Computer, and DVLA.  The check takes around 1.5 seconds to complete, the ANPR systems are able to check up to 3,000 number plates per hour, at speeds of up to 100mph.
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ANPR cameras are not at present speed cameras, but could be easily used for this purpose with the integration of SPECS software.  There are also yellow and white ANPR Cameras, the white ANPR Cameras are sometimes indistinguishable from standard CCTV Systems although they are fixed on a lane of traffic.

ANPR Camera

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Trafficmaster.
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Trafficmaster is often mistaken for Speed Cameras... they have a network of 7,500 sensor sites.  Fixed infra-red sensors mounted on motorway over-bridges, they have blue covers and look like flood lights over each lane.  Passive Target Flow Measurement cameras, they are blue cameras on blue poles with aerials, they are situated on busy main roads, see photograph.

Traffic Master

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Cat's Eyes Cameras.
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The camera is just 130mm in diameter, and can protrude from the surface by just 5mm... and it is linked to a computer that can read and decode number plates written in both italic and cursive scripts.  The idea is that you would use it in the approach to somewhere with a lower speed limit.  The camera will look at each oncoming vehicle and measure its speed.  Then you'll have illuminated road studs that will light up on the approach to a pedestrian crossing, say, and a sign that could light up with the number plate telling people to slow down.

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The camera is a logical follow-on from Astucia's self-lighting road studs, now being trailed in Hampshire [UK].  These are intended to give motorists advance warning about traffic lights they might be unable to see due to fog or high-sided vehicles ahead.  When the lights ahead were green, the studs would remain dark.  But as the lights turned amber, so do the studs... flashing twice a second until the lights turn red.  The studs marking the lanes would also flash.  Used in the US, the studs are claimed to have reduced accidents by 80 per cent.

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Detectors.
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GPS [Global Positioning System] is a system of 24 satellites which circle 11,000 nautical miles above the Earth twice daily in a precise orbit.  The satellites transmit information back to Earth at the speed of light, which can then be picked up by GPS receivers.  By using a method of triangulation, a GPS receiver is able to identify your exact position anywhere on Earth, at any time.  A GPS receiver needs to be picking up a signal from at least three satellites in order to calculate its position.
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When this information is combined with a database of speed cameras, it is possible for the device to accurately warn the user of approaching dangers... such as accident black spots or fixed camera locations.  Currently, [within Europe] speed camera location databases only exist for the UK, the Netherlands and Belgium.  Use of a GPS based product outside these countries is therefore not possible.
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Legality in the UK.
It has been legal to own and use a radar detector in the UK since early 1998, following a ground-breaking ruling in the High Court... [although 'defusers'... or 'jammers' are illegal.]  Radar/Laser detectors can give a warning... but if you've just been 'zapped' by a Laser gun then the warning will probably come to late... [unless your reactions are faster than the speed of light!]
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Ownership and/or use of a radar/laser detector in most other European Countries is prohibited.  Confiscation of the equipment and an instant Fine [upwards of 300 in most cases] is the norm.
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