SMART MOTORWAYS: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS.
Q: How is speed enforcement carried out on smart motorways?
A: Speed enforcement cameras, known as HADECS (Highways Agency Digital Enforcement Camera System), are fitted onto overhead gantries or verge mounted cantilever signs.
The cameras are linked to the electronic signals which show mandatory speed limits. The speed limits can vary due to traffic conditions, and the cameras are activated when they detect a vehicle travelling in excess of the speed limit. The system has the necessary Home Office Type Approval (HOTA), which allows its use for enforcement purposes.
Q: Who owns and operates the speed cameras?
A: Highways England owns and installs the HADECS cameras, and the Police, as the enforcement authority, are responsible for operating them and carrying out enforcement.
Q: What happens if there is a technical fault with the system?
A: There are built-in safeguards, which prevent the camera from activating if there is a critical fault. The system is designed to ensure that it will only capture an offence when the equipment is working correctly; this is a requirement of HOTA.
Q: The camera flashed even though I was within the speed limit.
A: Version 3 of HADECS enforces the speed limit displayed at the time across multiple lanes. As the system monitors all lanes at a location, it may have been activated by a vehicle exceeding the speed limit in your vicinity.
Q: The camera flash appears bright.
A: The HADECS3 system was subjected to extensive off-road testing to achieve Home Office Type Approval and underwent trial at 2 sites on the M1 before deployment more widely on the strategic road network. These tests and trials verified that the flash intensity presents no cause for concern about the possibility of dazzling a driver.
The type of flash unit used in HADECS3 been used globally in many thousands of highway installations and performed in conjunction with more than 1 million vehicle photo captures, without any known issues.
Q: The time on my speeding penalty notice contradicts the time on another receipt I have, therefore I could not have been speeding at the time alleged.
A: The HADECS system includes a calibrated, fully synchronised clock, which meets required specific Home Office standards.
Q: The speed limit changed just as I passed under the electronic sign, so I had no time to reduce my speed.
A: When a mandatory speed limit changes on the overhead sign, there is an automatic one minute delay before enforcement can begin against the newly displayed limit.
The flash units can still activate during this period, even though the new limit would not be enforced.
In this situation, drivers are not expected to brake sharply, but rather to reduce their speed so that they are within the speed limit as soon as it is safe to do so.
Q: There was no speed limit showing above my lane, so the national speed limit applied, even though other lanes had overhead signs showing a lower limit.
A: Providing a valid mandatory speed limit is properly displayed for the carriage-way (not necessarily over each individual lane), that limit will apply to all lanes.
Q: Is the font used on the electronic signs to show the speed limit legal?
A: Yes, the font used to display mandatory speed limits on the AMI units has the required formal approval from the Department for Transport.