SPECS (speed camera)

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SPECS cameras over motorway

SPECS is an average speed measuring speed camera system introduced in 1999.[1][2] It is one of the systems used for speed limit enforcement in the United Kingdom.

SPECS was originally manufactured by Speed Check Services Limited, from which it takes its name. The company was acquired by Vysionics in 2010,[3] which in turn was acquired by Jenoptik in 2014.[4]

About SPECS cameras[edit]

SPECS cameras operate as sets of two or more cameras installed along a fixed route that can be from 75 metres (246 feet). Maximum distance was 10 km with SPECS1 (SVDD) but with the event of SPECS3 became unlimited although legal requirements limit the maximum practical distance.[citation needed] They work by using an automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) system to record a vehicle's front number plate at each fixed camera site. As the distance is known between these sites, the average speed can be calculated by dividing this by the time taken to travel between two points.[5] The cameras use infrared photography, allowing them to operate both day and night.

There is a popular misconception that the Home Office has approved the SPECS system for single-lane use only. The cameras can only operate in pairs, where each pair only monitors one lane of a multi lane road.[6] So in theory, one can escape detection by changing lanes between the entry and exit cameras.[6] In reality, two or more sets of pairs of cameras are arranged to have overlapping areas of monitoring;[6] since the driver cannot tell which cameras are 'entry' and which are 'exit', as they look identical, they cannot tell where to change lane to escape detection. With the introduction of SPECS3-Vector cameras were able to monitor more than one lane including traffic going in different directions as long as the orientation of a pair of cameras is the same.

The system has another deficiency in that since the cameras only read the front number plate of a vehicle, speeding motorcycles escape detection because they have no front number plate to read. This issue went away with the introduction of SPECS3 which can be set up to be forward facing as well as rear facing allowing motorcyclists to be caught. A prime example of a site setup for this is the A537 Cat-and-Fiddle site.[7]

The cameras are often painted yellow and have been given the nickname "yellow vultures".[8]


In February 2007 a letter bomb exploded at the accountants of Speed Check Services Limited in what was believed to be an attack on organisations related to DNA testing and road transport.[9]

Similar systems in other countries[edit]

Similar systems are being used in other countries:

  • Trajectcontrole (The Netherlands, first country to use "fixed average speed check")
  • Odcinkowy pomiar prędkości (Poland)
  • Section Control (Austria)
  • Tutor or Safety Tutor (Italy)
  • Safe-T-Cam (Australia)
  • Trajectcontrole/Radar tronçon (Belgium)
  • ITSv (Integrated Time headway and Speed violation System) (Iran)[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "SPECS ¦ Average Speed Check Cameras & Speed Enforcement". Vysionics. Retrieved 18 March 2013. SPECS is a speed enforcement system, which uses linked Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras to monitor the average speed of traffic over a section of road, or network of roads. It has been used in the UK to control speeds on routes with a collision history and at major roadworks since achieving UK Home Office Type Approved (HOTA) in 1999.[non-primary source needed]
  2. ^ http://www.vysionics.com/product/specs
  3. ^ "Supplying ANPR Cameras, Speed & Traffic Solutions". Vysionics. Retrieved 18 March 2013. In 2010, Vysionics was created following the acquisitions of CRS and Speed Check Services[non-primary source needed]
  4. ^ "Vysionics has been acquired by Jenoptik" (PDF). Vysionics. 17 November 2014. Retrieved 9 February 2019.
  5. ^ "A Guide to Type-Approval Procedures for Automatic Distance/Time Speedmeters used for Road Traffic Law Enforcement in Great Britain". Home Office. 20 April 2006. Archived from the original on 23 October 2008. Retrieved 23 July 2008.
  6. ^ a b c BBC magazine article on SPECS
  7. ^ Google Maps - A537 Cat and Fiddle (September 2018) Retrieved 2019-02-09
  8. ^ David Leask (11 April 2010). "'Yellow Vultures' to target speeders". The Scotsman. Retrieved 14 April 2010.
  9. ^ "Two hurt in 'mail bomb' explosion". BBC News. 6 February 2007. Retrieved 11 June 2008.
  10. ^ Siadat Mousavi, Mahmood. "ITS Improvements in IRAN Roads" (PDF). Road Maintenance and Transportation Organization (RMTO) of Iran. Retrieved 30 November 2021.

External links[edit]