How a speed camera works

Written by r.l. cultrona
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How a speed camera works
( CC BY 2.0)

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Speeding is one of the major causes of automobile accidents. Police all across the country have been waging a battle to keep speeds down and people safe. One of the newer tools which law enforcement has been using is a speed camera. This camera, mounted so they over look streets, allows the police to catch speeders without having have a police officer physically view the speeding car. It is a high speed camera which is calibrated to take continuous digital photos. If a car is travelling at the posted limit, it will be invisible to the camera. If a car is travelling above or below the speed limit, the camera then is able to capture the vehicle in the act of speeding. It works by calculating the distance a car travels divided by the time it travels that distance in (distance/time = speed).


A car will run over electric sensors which are placed in the ground. This will set off a timer in the clock. When the timer runs out, the picture is taken. If the car is travelling at a normal speed, it will not be in the picture. The film is then processed and sent digitally to the police department. At that point, each picture has to physically inspect by an officer to verify an infraction took place. They check to make sure the camera didn't pick up a driver who was moving too slowly and that the camera was functioning properly. Once they have ascertained that an infraction has taken place, a ticket is issued and is sent with the picture to the owner of the car.


Usually the cameras are very noticeable. They are placed in brightly coloured housings so motorists can see where they are and adjust their speed accordingly. Used in this fashion, they are more of a deterrent to speeding than an actual enforcement tool. However, if a motorist is speeding, they will be caught by the cameras. They are highly accurate machines and are able to take a reading from a side mirror and a number plate, which means an innocent driver will not trigger the camera by mistake and a guilty one cannot claim it was someone next to them who was actually doing the speeding. They can work in any light or weather condition and self test after every picture to maintain accuracy.

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