'SPECS' is a type of digital speed camera. It is manufactured by Speed Check Services, a company set up to make as much money as possible out of the British government's anti-car mentality.
 
The speed trap consists of a pair of cameras. The first camera reads your numberplate and records the time, the second camera further down the road does the same thing, and the system then calculates your average speed between the two cameras.
 
Sometimes more than two cameras may be used to cover an extended stretch of road, though it is believed they always operate in pairs, not consecutively.
 
Each camera stores a photo of your vehicle, though this is alledged discarded if you are not exceeding the speed threshold.

The Big Flaw


A Formula 1 car could go past the first camera at 200mph, stop for a brief photo opportunity, tear past the second camera at 200mph, and the cameras wouldn't even record it as exceeeding the speed limit.
(Please don't try this at home)
 

A pair of yellow vultures perched above Lower Thames Street in London. There are two cameras because there are two lanes.
Neither camera measures your speed directly, so if you turn off the road between the cameras, or turn onto it, or stop between them, they can't catch you exceeding the speed threshold.
This means that if you inadvertently go thru the first one over the limit, all you need to do is slow to below the limit, so that your average speed between the two cameras is below the speed threshold. Of course, working this out in your head is somewhat difficult, so drivers sometimes over-compensate and can be seen crawling towards the second camera. On high speed roads this can create dangerous situations.
Other drivers can be seen driving for miles staring at their speedometer — a stupid and potentially fatal distraction effect.

One Lane Only

On roads with multiple lanes, SPECS are only home office type approved for measuring speed in one lane. So if you change lane they'll ignore you. On motorways it is not uncommon to see SPECS cameras covering lane 3 only in the hope of catching the fatest cars.
Of course now they know you know this, they might try other tricks, like using dummy cameras that aren't paired, so beware!
Daily Mail — Drivers can avoid speeding tickets...by changing lanes

How Well Do They Work?

The ABD has a suspicion that SPECS cameras have technical issues and may not be as reliable as the powers that be would like us to believe. There have been examples of SPECS cameras being installed and then taken out again and replaced by GATSO cameras. No explanation has been offered.
SPECS cameras that were placed in the M6 Thelwall viaduct roadworks for several years did not generate the tens of thousands of fines that might have been expected given that the limit was too slow and many prople could be seen breaking it.
SPECS cameras operating in a 20mph zone in London are known to have generated many fines (because the fines had to be refunded after it was shown that one of the cameras had been placed before the start of the 20mph limit by the cretins that installed them!).
We suspect that the higher a vehicle's speed, the more difficult it is for the ANPR technology in SPECS cameras to read number plates.
This possible technical problem may explain why SPECS cameras on high speed roads do not seem to generate that many fines.
It is even possible that the cameras don't work as well as Speed Check Services would like their customers to believe, and that they may have a whole raft of excuses to try and hide this. If you have an inside information on the effectiveness of SPECS cameras, do contact us.
Be warned however that this is at present only our suspicion, and we are not saying that SPECS cameras don't work at all at higher speeds, just that they don't work as effectively — you CAN still get caught!

Birds of Prey

The cameras themselves consist of a fairly standard surveillance camera housing with infra-red illuinators attached to either side. The housings are painted yellow. The poles on which they are mounted were originally painted dark blue, though more recently they seem to be yellow.
Perched on limbs that extend out over the road this gives them a resemblance to a menacing bird of prey waiting for its next victim, earning them the nickname of
Yellow Vultures

 

Example Sites

Some SPECS installations in the UK.
 
A77 South Ayrshire
In July 2005, a ridiculous 28 miles of the A77 between Bogend (B730 junction SW of Kilmarnock) and Ardwell (SW of Girvan), including the Ayr/Prestwick bypass, were covered by SPECS cameras. This is the most intrusive and dangerous use of speed cameras yet, threatening to turn attentive drivers into mindless automatons.
There are 40 sets of SPECS cameras, so we believe there are 20 speed traps. This stretch of the A77 includes dual and single carrigeway, rural and built-up areas. The speed limit varies, so your speed cannot be monitored end to end, only within certain sections of the road.
Nonetheless, one single trip along the road could easily result in the loss of your driving licence.
If they really wanted to improve safety on this route, they should have built bypasses for Girvan and Maybole, and upgraded the Ayr bypass to the dual carriageway that it should have been built as in the first place.

Cambridgeshire
SPECS cameras are operating on the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon.

 
Cornwall
SPECS cameras in the A38 Saltash Tunnel which has an unreasonably low 30mph speed limit. At present these are not operating as the location does not comply with speed camera siting rules. However, the government has recently changed the rules so expect them live before too long.

Essex
SPECS cameras were installed on the A127 Southend Arterial Road in January 2009, though there is some confusion about whether they are actually being used or not. See our Essex page for more.
 
Gloucester
SPECS cameras cover Linden and Podsmead — a residential area near the A38. Using the vile language of anti-car protagonists, Seymour Road, Tuffley Avenue and Podsmead Road, are described by Speed Check Services as 'rat-runs'.
 
London — Mansfield Road, Camden
From May 2005.
Evening Standard — Speed cameras can 'talk' to track you down
 
London — Lower Thames Street

A SPECS system on Lower Thames Street near London Bridge, was reported to be the country's biggest earner catching out 70 drivers per day, equivalent to £1.5M per year.
The speed limit on this road drops from 30mph to an absurd 20mph with some of the 20mph signs obscured by street furniture and sign clutter. This is despite railings that prevent pedestrians crossing the oad. There is no justification for this reduced speed limit and it has clearly been introduced purely as an excuse to mug drivers.
In June 2005, it was discovered that the SPECS camera trying to snare westbound traffic had incompetently been placed outside the 20mph limit, and the bungling imbeciles in charge of the safety camera pratnership would have to refund points and fines to 5,600 drivers.

 
Northampton
SPECS camera are used on the A43 Lumbertubs Way.

Nottingham
SPECS camera are used on the A610 Nuthall Road and the Western Boulevard (part of the ring road). This was the first SPECS installation and dates from 2000. There are now a staggering 18 pairs of cameras, enough to send any driver to sleep.

Stocksbridge
SPECS cameras lurk on the A616 Stocksbridge bypass in South Yorkshire. This is a purpose-built single carrigeway bypass with little or no properties bordering it. The speed limit has been reduced from NSLA to 50mph with no justification whatsoever other than to raise more cash.

Temporary Installations

SPECS cameras have been used in long term motorway roadworks, though there is some doubt about their effectiveness as on several occasions, SPECS cameras have been installed only to be replaced by GATSO cameras a short time later. Perhaps they weren't making enough money. There has also been a remarkable lack of publicity about the number of drivers caught.
 
The photographs below show a SPECS camera operating in roadworks on the M69 motorway in Leicestershire in February 2008:—

Position of the SPECS camera in relation to the start of the speed limit. Note the markings on the road surface used for calibration. The + is directly beneath the camera and must be used to measure the exact distance to the next camera. The text used is "SCS L5"

Side view showing control box and access steps. The yellow sign in the background is a warning sign for the adjacent quarry.

Close up of the camera and infra-red illuminators. Note the support arm is badly scratched indicating it has been used before.

Close up of the base of the suppport showing three cables emerging from the conduit connected to the support underground. One runs up the embankment to the control box. Another runs along the motorway to the next camera. Another runs to the device whose function is unknown, though it could be a light.

 
Photos Wanted
If you have any photographic evidence from a SPECS camera please send us a copy. We will obscure your registration number in any photo we use.
 
SPECS Boss Caught Speeding
An executive director of Speed Check Services has been caught exceeding the speed limit outside a school in Bristol on four occasions over 3 days.
Using a hand-held radar gun, an investigator hired by the News of the World clocked 52-year-old hypocrite Christopher Booy doing 38mph in his convertible Jaguar XK8 outside St Mary's Primary School in Portbury, where the speed limit is 30mph.
Mr Booy is clearly far more interested in exploiting Britain's anti-car culture to line his own pockets than he is in the safety of children.

 
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