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Average Speed Cameras



Q. 1 Why are the Borough Council putting up average speed cameras?

A.Speeding traffic in our communities is one of a number of issues that we as a Highway Authority are often asked to address by residents and community groups. Excess speed severely diminishes the quality of life for residents who live on, or have to cross, roads affected by it. The Mayor has made reducing speeding one of his key priorities and the Council is working on a number of measures to tackle speeding, such as community speed watch, reviewing speed limits and working with the Police to enforce speed limits – including the using average speed cameras.

National research has shown that If a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle at 40mph, death or serious injury is much more likely than if struck by a vehicle travelling at 30mph or less. Travelling at a lower speed gives a driver more time to identify potential issues ahead before they develop which enable them to respond in plenty of time rather than last minute reaction to a problem. Reducing speed can also help by stopping problems before they occur.  Over a period of time drivers come to know where fixed cameras are sited and slow down for the camera then increase speed again. By using average speed cameras, speed will drop over the length of road covered by them.


Q. 2 What’s the difference between an average speed camera and the other cameras already in use on the roads to check speeds?

A. The new cameras being deployed measure the average speed over a length of road rather than measuring it at a fixed point.  They have a greater beneficial longer term effect on driver speed choice.  Average speed cameras also help to smooth traffic flows so rather than drivers slowing down for cameras and speeding up afterwards.

Average speed cameras help drivers choose an appropriate lower speed more generally on the road network.


Q. 3 Average speed cameras have been used to enforce speed limits on trunk roads and motorways particularly through road works for some time. How are these cameras different?

A. The cameras used on trunk roads and motorways have been in use since 1999, but these cameras are different because they are designed for the urban environment. They need less infrastructure to support them so have a minimum impact on the local environment and are able to be moved to different locations. Bedford Borough Council is one of the first local authorities in the UK to introduce this new breed of cameras. One of the reasons that the SafeZone cameras were chosen is that they are more aesthetically pleasing to residents than some others available. 


Q. 4 What warnings are given that the cameras are in use ?

A. Signs are displayed on all the major routes in to Bedford Borough and signs are on display in the vicinity of where the cameras are in use. In addition signs will be shown at all future average speed camera sites before they are installed. Examples of the signs are shown below.


            AVSC warningAVS Check Sign   30 sign plus camera icon


Q. 5 How do you know they reduce “speeding”?

A. When the cameras were deployed outside a school in Bournemouth those exceeding the speed limit were reduced by 75% from 64 vehicles an hour to 16 an hour during peak times.  There is also evidence to suggest that average speed cameras are seen as a fairer way to help encourage drivers to slow down as opposed to spot cameras.  We plan to fully engage the public in a Bedford Borough wide speed reduction initiative. Data from the cameras will be regularly monitored.


Q. 6 How do the cameras work?

A. The cameras identify all vehicles entering the enforcement zone using Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology. The average speed is then calculated using the time taken to cover a precisely measured distance within the zone. Details of any vehicles exceeding the speed limit are then sent for processing via a 3G mobile or fixed telecommunications link. Evidence is only collected for those vehicles exceeding the speed limit.  The cameras are manufactured by Siemens and are known as “SafeZone”. SafeZone  is an average speed enforcement system which measures time over distance to determine whether a vehicle has exceeded the speed limit between two points in accordance with the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988. The system is type approved by the Home Office in accordance with the requirements of the Speedmeter Handbook and A Guide to Type-Approval Procedures for Automatic Distance/Time Speedmeters used for Road Traffic Law Enforcement in Great Britain. The accuracy, recording and performance of the system is all covered by Home Office Type Approval testing procedures. Certification of the system is covered by the Home Office Type Approval, which includes the formal testing of the system and the requirements for certification of any installation prior to enforcement. Because the cameras work in a different way to fixed cameras drivers will not see a flash or any other indication that the camera has recorded their vehicle speeding. More detail on the SafeZone system can be accessed from the Siemens web site by clicking here. (Opens in a new window)


Q. 7 I've driven a road that you say has the cameras installed but I didn't see them. What do they look like ?  

A. The cameras are mounted on a pole or existing street furniture at a height of at least 4 metres . A picture of one of the cameras is shown below.


Speed Camera


Q. 8 Are the cameras just another way of the Borough Council generating revenue?

A. Absolutely not. The Borough Council would prefer the speed limit was observed and any driver who does this will not have to pay anything. Any payment made by those drivers who choose to exceed the speed limit and are detected either fund the delivery of a speed awareness course or is paid via the court service to the treasury. The Borough Council does not receive any income from speeding fines.


Q. 9 If the Borough Council is not going to make money from the camera's why install them?

A. Prevention is better than cure. The Borough Council is frequently accused of doing nothing for road safety until someone is killed or seriously injured. By deploying the cameras in areas where excess speed is affecting the local community we will reduce the likelihood of collisions occurring and the severity of any that do.  Slowing traffic down also improves the quality of life for residents in those areas where roads and traffic bisect communities.


Q. 10 Where are the cameras installed now,where are any new ones going to be installed and how are these sites chosen?

A. The camera's are currently installed on the A6 in Milton Ernest, on Barkers Lane Bedford, Box End Road in Kempston Rural and the Embankment in Bedford. Further schemes are currently under consideration for, Renhold, Cotton End, Oakley and Sharnbrook.These sites have been selected as being a representative of a mix of main rural A roads and a local distributer roads. At each site there have been concerns raised about speeding from the local communities and each site has in the past been targeted by the Police for mobile speed camera enforcement.

A number of other sites are being considered and further installations will be announced in due course. Sites are assessed against a number of criteria including the percentage of vehicles contravening the speed limit, road traffic collisions and the proportion of collisions where speed was a contributory factor and the level of community involvement in tackling speeding.


Q. 11 Can I ask for cameras to be installed where I live?

A. There are a number of methods that the Borough Council and the Police use to manage speeding traffic. These range from Community Speed Watch programmes, mobile speed camera enforcement through to reviewing speed limits and considering other solutions such as traffic calming or speed cameras. If you are concerned about speeding in your area of Bedford Borough please contact the Highways Helpdesk or calling 01234 718003

Q. 12 Who processes the information recieved from the cameras?

A Bedfordshire Police will be processing the data through their Camera & Ticket office.


Q. 13 What happens if the cameras detect I was exceeding the speed limit ?

A A Notice of Intended Prosecution will be sent to the registered keeper of the vehicle requiring them to identify the driver.


Q. 14  What happens if I don't know who was driving the vehicle?

A.  If you are the registered owner/keeper/nominated person or as an employer, it is your responsibility to identify the driver of the vehicle in question within 28 days. In the case of a company, your vehicle log should be of assistance. If you fail to supply the information required then the registered keeper/owner/nominated person will be taken to court and may be fined up to £1,000, have their driving licence endorsed or be disqualified from driving.


Q. 15 What happens after the driver has been identified. ?

A  If certain criteria are met, a conditional offer or the opportunity to attend a speed awareness course will be made


Q. 16 What's a conditional offer?

A  A Conditional Offer of Fixed Penalty gives you the opportunity to settle the matter without having to go to court. The fine is a fixed amount of £100 and you will also have three penalty points added to your driving licence.


Q. 17 Can I attend a speed awareness course rather than pay a fine and get penalty points on my licence?

A Speed awareness courses will only be offered to drivers who meet ALL the following criteria:

The recorded speed must be no more than the speeds for each limit,  shown on the table below.


Speed Limit


Maximum Speed

to be Eligible

for Speed

Awareness Course

















  • You must have fully completed Part 1 of the Notice of Intended Prosecution form and return it to the Camera & Ticket Office within 28 days from the date of the letter.
  • The driver of the vehicle must be identified and have completed the Notice of Intended Prosecution confirming that they were the driver within 70 days of the date of the offence.
  • The course must be completed within 120 days of the date of the offence. You must not have completed a National Speed Awareness course anywhere else within the last three years from the date of the offence.


 Click here to find out more information on speed awareness courses (opens


If you have any other questions regarding Average Speed Cameras in Bedford Borough please contact the Borough Council Highways Helpdesk by clicking https://highwaysreporting.bedford.gov.uk/ or calling 01234 718003