Here’s a question

Motorists should be penalised for going just 1mph over the speed limit, Britain’s road policing chief has said as he called for the 10 per cent buffer zone to be scrapped.

Our measurements of said speeds are accurate to that level are they?

No, not in theory, but in reality?

42 comments on “Here’s a question

  1. That’s fine by me, as long as there is a parallel law that any plod found breaking any law or regulation; messing up any procedure or process that results in an error of prosecution, wrongful arrest, etc is excecuted. You know, proud to be law enforcers, etc etc.

    Or we could all stop being such authoritarian cock wombles.

  2. It’s illegal for speedometers to overread, so the manufactures design them to underread with manufacturing tolerances – usually around 5%. Check your speed against the speed calculation on a GPS SATNAV.

    You can get confuse them by fitting outsize wheels and tyres, bu5 that’s a different problem.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speedometer

    “The amended Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 permits the use of speedometers that meet either the requirements of EC Council Directive 75/443 (as amended by Directive 97/39) or UNECE Regulation 39.[14]

    The Motor Vehicles (Approval) Regulations 2001[15] permits single vehicles to be approved. As with the UNECE regulation and the EC Directives, the speedometer must never show an indicated speed less than the actual speed. However it differs slightly from them in specifying that for all actual speeds between 25 mph and 70 mph (or the vehicles’ maximum speed if it is lower than this), the indicated speed must not exceed 110% of the actual speed, plus 6.25 mph.

    For example, if the vehicle is actually travelling at 50 mph, the speedometer must not show more than 61.25 mph or less than 50 mph.”….

  3. Yes, they did this in Switzerland, at least in the days of yore when I still owned a car. 20 francs per km over the limit.

    I prefer the German approach where anything up to 20 over gets a token fine and no further action. The points etc starts above that. So the de facto limit in town is 70 km/h provided you’re happy to accept a few speeding tickets as part of the cost of motoring.

  4. “Motorists should be penalised for going just 1mph over the speed limit, Britain’s road policing chief has said…”

    That sounds like a self-interested plea for more ‘resources’…

  5. A de-facto reduction in speed limits as Jo Public has to drive slower to try and avoid a ticket, extra loverly fine revenue when they fail, great opportunities to invent and sell GPS based speed warning systems, and a warm self-righteous feeling knowing that we are improving the world – what’s not to like?

  6. I wonder if they will be keen to apply this ‘zero tolerance’ approach to other crimes like vandalism, graffiti, public disorder, etc?

    Or is it just nice little earners like speeding…?

  7. Or we could all stop being such authoritarian cock wombles.

    Well, you would expect the “the roads policing lead for the National Police Chiefs’ Council” to self-select for “authoritarian cock wobble”.

  8. I’d settle for drivers who kill people by dangerous, careless or reckless driving actually going to jail, or people who kill people whilst banned from driving for previous offences actually going to jail.

    That doesn’t raise shitloads of money for the cops though, so that’s a stupid idea.

  9. To add to Harry Haddock’s Ghost, other fines should be payable by:

    – officials who put a temporary speed limit up for overnight roadworks then leave it on in the morning, creating a jam for no reason
    – officials who put a temporary speed limit up for an accident and then leave it on after it’s clears, creating a jam for no reason
    – lanes coned off to protect the workforce, when no-one is working and when no hazard to traffic exists
    – plastic plod who close the road to retrieve a wing mirror
    – any official who signed off on “active motorways” should be fined for each death of a person stopped in what was the hard shoulder but is now an active lane

    and so on.

  10. It isn’t just outsized wheels you have to think about, car speedos actually measure the rpm of the drive shaft, so anything that alters the wheels’ circumference, wear, over/under inflation, different tyres to those specified by the maker, affects the accuracy of the speedo. Plod’s speedos laser the ground moving under the car.

  11. Lots more work for lawyers challenging the accuracy of the monitoring kit being used by plod. Lots more work for plod doing (and maintaining records of) regular testing to demonstrate accuracy of said kit. What’s not to like?

  12. If the police Quality manager (if they even have one??) is doing his job correctly the speed sensors will be calibrated and uncertainty budgets made for the procedures they use to measure motorists speeds. Add a little on to be sure and you have your allowable margin of error.

    Do police stations get ISO 9001 audited?

  13. If the police Quality manager (if they even have one??) is doing his job correctly the speed sensors will be calibrated and uncertainty budgets made for the procedures they use to measure motorists speeds.

    Two things mitigating against that though:

    1) They get more cash the more people they catch. Even if the devices aren’t fiddled, where’s the incentive to ensure they are accurate?
    2) How could someone who is prosecuted ever prove that the device used on the day was properly calibrated?

  14. UK speed limits are currently set to the nearest 10mph. There is no variability with weather or with light levels (including street lights now switched off as an economy measure by many local councils), visibility of hazards and road surface quality (eg pothole detection). Otherwise the arrangement would be grossly unreasonable by incorrect control and the contingent adverse effects on traffic flow.

    If we are to be so strongly regulated, I think speed limits would need be set to the nearest mph, according to a well understood and justified algorithm and with each short section of road having a specifically chosen speed limit.

    Such speed limits would have to vary with time and place as the weather, illumination, visibility etc changed. Computer controlled warning signs would be needed every few tens of yards.

    Furthermore, all accusations of speeding should allow defence that the set speed limit was unreasonably low for the prevailing circumstances – which should keep the magistrates’ courts nice and busy. The prevailing conditions would need to be logged with time and place.

    Alternatively, we might just view this Plod as having put his foot in it.

    Best regards

  15. In my naivety I’d like to think that all police equipment that is used for evidence is tested against calibrated standards on a regular basis (6 monthly or perhaps annually) and that the test equipment itself is also texted regularly, with the test equipment test equipment having tracebility back to national standards.

  16. If you follow the rules regarding speeding, only a cretin would argue that you were guilty of ‘speeding fine avoidance’.

    If you follow the rules of taxation….etc….

  17. “Bloke in North Dorset

    In my naivety I’d like to think that all police equipment that is used for evidence is tested against calibrated standards on a regular basis (6 monthly or perhaps annually) and that the test equipment itself is also texted regularly, with the test equipment test equipment having tracebility back to national standards.”

    Indeed; step forward Mr Loophole.

  18. The police have managed things in such a way that they are now mistrusted and despised by almost(?) the entire population so this proposal will confirm that the scorn is mutual.

    Anthony Bangham was obviously neglected as a child – how else to explain his appalling teeth?

  19. It’s a known get-out to challenge the fine in court and question the calibration of the speed camera. The burden of proof is on Plod to show that it was in-calibration according to the regs on the day in question, and apparently a lot of them aren’t, which is what the tolerance is partly designed to take into account.

    If they remove the tolerance, expect Plod to have to prove that the camera is sufficiently accurate and precise if you’re flashed at one or 2 mph over.

    It’s worth a punt if you’re feeling ornery (don’t bother in Switzerland – it’ll cost you more to fight than the fine, even if it’s a medium one).

  20. Rob @January 31, 2018 at 9:54 am

    Considering that a mere 7% of RTAs are caused by excessive speed I’d say that you’re on a sticky wicket. Deaths on the road a more a case of “insufficient care and attention” – like texting on your mobile instead of looking at the road and any hazards.

  21. How could someone who is prosecuted ever prove that the device used on the day was properly calibrated?
    I believe you can ask for evidence of it.

    Indeed you can. You can also ask for the operator’s training certificate (if it’s a “hand-held” version).

  22. If they’re following ISO 9001 or better 17025 really then the devices should be calibrated annually by a UKAS ISO 17025 Accredited calibration lab and a certificate will be available. Someone procecuted should be able to ask for that at least.

    The certificate will contain an estimated uncertainty saying it’s accurate to +\- x% to a 95% probability (2 sds to the mean).

    Ideally they’d then make their own uncertainty budget using that data plus other uncertainties that are introduced from their measurement procedure.

    Part of my job is writing these uncertainty budgets and I’ve often wondered if the police are doing this with their speed measurements. If I was caught speeding I’d be asking my lawyer to get this information from the plod.

  23. Deaths on the road a more a case of “insufficient care and attention” – like texting on your mobile instead of looking at the road and any hazards.

    Or staring fixedly at the speedometer in case you drift 1mph over the limit.

  24. This is nothing new, though. My late father used to complain about the police’s war on motorists back in the ’60s and ’70s.

  25. Australian police (especially in Victoria) love their ridiculously low thresholds. I’ve been done for 87 in an 80 zone, on the approach road to the airport (I was a bit late picking someone up). I thought that was a prick of a place to put a camera until they announced they were putting a fixed one on the freeway, just before the off-ramp to the new hospital with the central emergency department.

  26. Speed limits vary with no logic. I have seen narrow winding country roads in Sussex with limits of 50 mph – which no one approaches as it is would be suicide. I have also seen wide straight roads near Norwich with a limit of 20mph – allegedly because a politician lives there.

  27. anon

    I saw an incident on the M25 northbound at the M40 > M25 joining slip road where the variable speed limit changed (to 40 iirc) and within seconds the gantry camera flashers erupted precipitating tyre smoke, swerving and the near pile up of likely 50+ cars (it looked like an F1 start).

    Not an experience I’d care to repeat

  28. Install data loggers on all police vehicles. Review all data. Fine officers for their transgressions.

    Then we can talk.

  29. Tim Newman got there before me: gazing at the speedo and not the road is stupid.My car speedo is graduated to 5mph, anything less is estimating, even if it is 100% accurate. How long does that take?

    Some of my bugbears include seeing the 50mph repeater sign and just round the corner, the 30mph limit. Also, the signs obscured by branches, the lack of repeaters, and the motorway limits that slow you from 70 to 40 and appear from nowhere.

  30. Some of my bugbears include seeing the 50mph repeater sign and just round the corner, the 30mph limit.

    You can be certain that the lay-by 50 yards further on past that corner is frequently occupied by a revenue camera van.

  31. No. Vehicle speedometers must be within +10% -0%, most are deliberately set at +>5%. Also, new tyres will show a lower speed than old worn tyres.

    GPS speed is not accurate to 1 MPH either, more-so if on non-horizontal road.

  32. @Matthew L

    Victoria is pretty much the worst, not far off this proposal. The tolerance here is a flat 3kph, at any speed limit. So 114kph on an interstate freeway (110kph limit) will get you pinged. We’re also world leaders in 40kph limits a few hundred metres before and after school, not just outside the schools but on nearby 3 lane each way, dual carriageway arterial roads. A lot of these have had their previous permanent limit of 70 or 80 reduced to 60, simply so the daily reductions can be done. Sigh 🙁

  33. @tomo
    Well that is stupid – ideally people should be given time to decelerate safely. Otherwise it is not safe.

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