M4 motorway - managed section (J12 to J1) & flashing speed cameras

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Nick Bassett
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M4 motorway - managed section (J12 to J1) & flashing speed cameras

Hi folks,

Some of you might remember my post about being stranded in Germany last month... well when we finally got back to LHR after midnight in freezing conditions, we made our way home down the M4. At that time of night, there were roadworks going on (well lots of cones but no work persons!) and lots of different variable speed limits flashing up at different times - happy days! I went under one gantry that was displaying a 50 limit at about 55 and then received 2 camera flashes - great thought I, but with speedo error etc, I should be OK. And so I was thankfully as it turned out. Nothing through in the post.

On my way back from Windsor last week, I decided to conduct a little test. No variable speed limits showing on the M4, I set cruise control at 70 and drove on. Sure enough, I go under a gantry at Reading and... flash, flash from the speed cameras! No other cars were around me at the time, so they weren't targeting another driver.

So my question is, have the overhead cameras on the M4 been set to go off at random intervals as a warning to drivers? If that's the case, it seems a poor show that drivers haven't been warned this will happen - it's really quite distracting.

Thanks

Wrightpayne
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Funnily, I've been on tenterhooks since New Years Day - coming home from friends in Arborfield heading for the A34 I'm sure I was flashed. SWMBO thinks it was another car! My speedo was indicating about 5mph over the designated speed limit. My VW transporter has bigger wheels/tyres on and the speedo is bang on accurate rather than slightly under-reading which I have to remember!!

Anyway 14 days have elapsed so I think I'm maintaining my angelic driving record!

Andy135
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Nick, can you be sure it was an overhead gantry camera that flashed you? Reason I ask is that the "all lanes running" cameras at the side of the inside lane have been known to mis-read and flash when they shouldn't. A friend got flashed by one when they were first introduced - he was in the middle lane but it still picked him up, erroneously. Could it have been one of these that flashed you?

Nick Bassett
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Andy -  I think it probably was one of the cameras positioned off the hard shoulder that you mention. If I'm honest, I don't really know them as "all lanes running" cameras and just thought they were another revenue earner (sorry speed camera)! 

What is their purpose and why do they flash? I've also seen them flash on the other side of the carriageway when it is clear that a car (or cars) are not visibly speeding. 

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Andy135
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#4, Nick, they're used to police the inside lane when it's closed off (due to breakdown etc). The cameras are turned off when all lanes are running, and turned on when the inside lane is closed, which is usually indicated by a big red X above the inside lane on the overhead gantry.

Here's some detail on "smart" motorways - the relevant section for you will be about half way down under the "Red X Fines" section. https://www.rac.co.uk/drive/advice/driving-advice/smart-motorways/

Edited to add that I've no idea why they don't seem to be as accurate as the regular, overhead speed cameras. My guess is that they're an evolution of the regular cameras that were always designed to measure speed across multiple lanes, and that the all lanes running cameras probably need a fair bit of calibration to track the inside lane only. I will add that my friend who got flashed in the middle lane did not receive a ticket, so I have to assume that they have some sort of pre-ticket review process in place.

D Jones
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I too have been single flashed on the M25 over 6 months ago coming back from Gatwick at 02:00hrs, nothing through the post to date.

I have seen the cameras going off for no apparent reason on the opposite carriageway around the M25 in stationary traffic.

The cameras at the side of the road read and store number plate information, a bit big brother, but when a friends son was having problems in his life and decided to drive 200 miles from home to the Welsh countryside, the police were able to search their camera database and follow his route up to North Wales. He was found at 11pm (safely) and sitting next to a waterfall at where the family once went on holiday.

aerobod
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Here in Canada we often get flashed by the Red Light / Speed on Green Traffic Light Cameras if the light is yellow, but the car was within the speed limit. A human supposedly checks the photos to ensure the car had entered the intersection when the light had just turned to red, with a second photo of it further into the intersection, before the ticket is dispatched.

Unfortunately SWMBO was late on entering an intersection last month, having just received the $405 fine in the mail a couple of weeks ago and trying to blame me for it (we only have rear number plates and photos of them here), until we tracked the time back to when I was working and she was out-and-about!

James

gustosomerset
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Slightly off-topic and I'm fairly sure everyone (except me) knew this but speeding under each one of the red outlined gantry mounted variable speed limits is, if caught, a separate offence. I had naively assumed that it might be an offence 'per limited section of road' or something but it isn't. It's therefore perfectly possible, though pretty idiotic, to incur 12 points within a couple of miles....as someone apparently recently did on the M4 near Bristol...

Mark w
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Theres a dodgy camera on the anticlockwise bit of the M25 between the M40 and M4 that flashes randomly .its been like it for months.

 

Toby S
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I think also the level of tolerance for getting tickets varies on smart motorways as well, with it set fairly high when there is no restriction in place and anything above 10%+1 when there is a reduced speed limit in place which is worth bearing in mind

Certainly the case on the M5 section Worcester to Birmingham - recently had a ticket for 68 in a 60 - fair cop and serves me right for not concentrating, but not much on the road and an easy mistake to have made  - opted for the  driver awareness course as first ticket in over 4 years and in fairness probably overdue.

Generally though I reckon tolerances even on the unrestricted bits will be lowering given the local forces have coffers to fill now they kept the fines and there's talk to reducing the limit down to 50 or 60 due to pollution (noise and global warming) - tailgaters and lane 2 and 3 hoggers are OK though as the cameras aren't that sophisticated

 

Kind regards

Toby S