Mobile speed cameras are camera units that are typically mounted in police vans and stationed along long stretches of straight road. While the technology is not widely used in the United States, it has been deployed throughout the UK and Australia.
Because the goal of a mobile speed camera is to provide more coverage to detect speeding violations without exhausting state resources, some models can be left to operate without the presence of a police officer. This practice has caused controversies in several countries, often resulting in challenges to the accuracy and reliability of the speed cameras.
In Victoria, the Mobile Road Safety Camera program was developed to function as a deterrent to speeding. The program serves to capture and fine speeding infractions, and was accompanied by a visibility campaign to convince drivers that they can be caught speeding at any time.
Under the guidelines, cameras must be placed on roads with a documented history of serious collisions, be identified as a speed-related problem site, subject to a validated compliant of excessive speeds, and be unsuitable for noncamera based speed traps. Additionally, It is against Victoria's policy to conceal or disguise the camera vehicles or free standing tripods with signs, tree branches or other obstacles.
Under the Department of Transportation's circular for the use of speed cameras, mobile speed camera sites must be sites where collisions occur over a stretch of road or where enforcement is needed during specific times of day or year. Unlike in Australia, camera and speed limit reminders must be placed along the roads leading to the camera site and for one kilometre thereafter. Mobile cameras should be clearly visible for 60 meters at speed limits of 40mph or less, and 100 meters at all other speeds. The vehicles themselves should also be clearly marked.
Arizona was the first state to both implement the use of mobile speed cameras and repeal their legality. Adopted in 2008, the use of automated speed cameras triggered a rash of vandalism and public protest.
In April 2009, the operator of a mobile speed camera van was shot and killed, prompting the company behind the technology, Redflex Traffic Systems, to halt its camera activities in the state once its contract expired. As of July 2010 when the program ended, only a third of tickets were actually paid, and legislators were suggesting determining the legality of future speed camera programs through a state vote.