Motoring

Mobile speed van officer sets record straight and debunks myths about speeding

There’s nothing quite as anxiety-inducing as the wait to find out whether you’ve been caught out by a speed camera or mobile speed van.

Yet it’s a wait that so many of us have had to endure.

Data has shown that between 2019 and 2020, 2,584,569 speeding offences were detected in England and Wales – an almost 50 per cent rise over the past eight years.

READ MORE: DVLA issues urgent warning to all driving licence holders

In London, there were 214,409 speeding offences between 2019 and 2020, a rise of 36 per cent on the previous year.

A staggering 94 per cent of these offences were caught out by a speed camera.

Despite so many of us having committed speeding offences, there are still myths and twisted facts that exist about speeding.

Now, Go Safe casualty reduction officer Gareth Thomas has spoken to North Wales Live to set the record straight on some of these myths, and lift the lid on some top speeding secrets.

Here are 11 key things to remember about speeding and speed camera vans.

Does the 10 per cent rule exist?

Many drivers think that exceeding the speed limit by just 10 per cent won’t land them with a ticket, while others have been wary that this could be fiction.

However, Gareth said that it’s true: you will not get a ticket, provided your speed doesn’t go over the limit by more than 10 per cent.



Gareth Thomas, Casualty Reduction Officer, said that the ’10 per cent’ rule does exist

So, in a 40mph zone, you won’t get a ticket if you’re caught at 44mph, but you would if you were driving at 45mph.

Officially, any speeding offence at more than 1 mile per hour above the limit is regarded as an offence, but most police forces allow for a variance.

Gareth set out a warning, though: the Go Safe thresholds can vary and change without notice.


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Can I get caught speeding twice in the same day by the same camera?

Currently, with Go Safe it is treated as one offence if you are caught speeding twice or more in 20 minutes.

Theoretically, you can be caught several times on the same day and be at risk of disqualification under the totting-up system – even if you started the day with a clean licence.

According to Gareth, this can happen easier than many might think.

Think about how often you might encounter different speed cameras on the same stretch of road.

However, courts do have discretion to impose only one set of points for two or more offences if they are seen to have been committed “on the same occasion”.

Do speed vans have to be visible at all times?



Speed camera vans aren’t there to catch motorists unawares but generally lower their speed

You might have heard that speed vans must be able to be seen at all times.

This isn’t true. There are no laws about visibility, meaning an officer can operate in the dark.

In fact, there is no legal requirement for speed vans to warn you of their presence at all.

Gareth said: “Legally, we don’t have to be visible. I could camouflage myself if I wanted to – but it’s all about being fair, education and preventing an accident.

Gareth speed vans are about being a deterrent, so many vans choose to be visible.

Can you eat behind the wheel?

Technically, yes. It’s not illegal. But, if you are seen to be distracted by munching while driving, you can be prosecuted for careless driving.

Gareth has even seen a lady looking in the mirror and putting on her lipstick while driving.

“She was riding on the cats eyes in the centre of the road and veering. I recommended that she was prosecuted for driving without due care and attention,” he said.

Is it illegal to flash your headlights and alert other motorists that there’s a speed van?

Under section 89 of the Police Act 1997, it’s an offence to “willfully obstruct a constable in the execution of his/her duty”, meaning it could be a breach of the law to do so.

However, Gareth said that it’s difficult to prove such an offence, and that he doesn’t mind too much when people do so.

“It doesn’t bother me that people flash to warn them of the speed van,” he said.

“I just want to educate people and the van to act as a speed deterrent.”

Can you obstruct a van’s view of the road?

No. Obstructing a van from seeing the road and preventing them from doing their duties is illegal and you can be prosecuted for it.

Can officers only catch motorists who are going in one direction?



Motorists speeding in any direction are at risk of being captured by a speed van camera

You don’t have to be going in a certain direction to be caught out by a speed van.

Any car that passes is recorded by the camera.

Whatever way you’re going, if you’re speeding, expect that dreaded ticket to land on your mat at some point soon after.

Are speed officers collecting revenue for the Government?

No – Gareth said that officers aren’t in place to make money, just to catch those who are speeding.

He said: “If I get a day where I don’t get any drivers speeding, then I know I’ve done my job.”

Are officers looking for anything other than speeding motorists?

Yes, it’s not just those who are speeding who should watch out.

If you’re caught without your seat belt or using your mobile phone, you will face prosecution.

How long will speed vans stay in one spot?

Gareth said that for technical reasons, speed vans usually remain in place for an hour and a half.

He also said that vans tend to be placed where a death or serious injury has occurred, where speeds in the area have been recorded as being very high, or where residents have raised concerns about high speeds.

What will happen if I’m caught speeding?


That depends on the circumstances, such as how far over the speed limit you were travelling.

The minimum penalty is a £100 fine for those caught speeding on UK roads.

Police may offer the option of a speed awareness course as an alternative to a fine or penalty points.

Gareth said an accredited course is “far more likely” to improve driver behaviour and make roads safer.

Courses are available to drivers who respond quickly to notices and who were driving at “no more than 10 per cent, plus 9 miles per hour” above the posted speed limit.

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