Image provided under Creative Commons by davepaku.

With their use becoming more and more widespread, we explain what an average speed camera is and how it works.

These days even the most asthmatic car is capable of creeping well above the speed limit. Indeed, most modern cars make it almost too easy to speed.

This no doubt leads into a debate on speed limits in this country which then usually includes keyboard warriors citing revenue raising and others pointing to driver skill level.

Speed limits, on some sections of road in this country could easily be lifted to 130km/h mirroring the limits on some roads in Europe. But that’s not what this article is about. We want to look at average speed cameras because they’re being introduced in more places to ‘better’ control ‘speeding drivers’.

The introduction of average speed cameras has come about due to the well-known fact that many drivers will slow down for a fixed or mobile speed camera and then, once out of shot or range, resume their previous, perhaps above the speed limit speed. This led to police officers ‘hiding’ their mobile cameras to catch out ‘speeding’ drivers.

This also lead to the introduction of linked average speed cameras. Only the States differ on their use of average speed cameras. Well, NSW differs. All States and Territories, except for NSW, use average speed cameras to detect speeding cars. In NSW, they’re only used to detect speeding heavy vehicles or those with a trailer with a GVM of 4.5t. We’ll come back to this.

What is a linked average speed camera?

As the name suggests, an average speed camera works by measuring the amount of time it takes a vehicle to travel between two points and then calculates the average speed. If the vehicle’s average speed is higher than the posted speed limit then the driver will be booked and fined.

In NSW, heavy vehicle drivers will receive an extra point deducted from their licence as well as the demerit points for the speed they’ve exceeded the limit by. The Roads and Maritime Services, says, “Average speed enforcement is used to enforce existing speeding laws, however, an additional demerit point will be incurred by heavy vehicle drivers detected speeding using average speed enforcement. This is because offences detected by average speed enforcement demonstrate a continued intention to speed”.

When it comes to determining the length of an average speed camera zone, according to authorities the set distance will always be the minimum ‘practicable’ distance to ensure there isn’t an overestimation of speed. And that a stretch of road is always assessed by a land surveyor to determine the accuracy and practicality of installing an average speed camera zone.

What kind of cameras are used?

In Australia and other countries where average speed cameras are installed the camera type is called a SPECS camera which stands for Speed Checks Services which was the name of the company that created the camera type.

Unlike other speed camera, SPECS cameras are always set up as a pair. Both cameras take an image of a vehicle and have Automatic Numberplate Recognition (ANPR) with infrared illumination to ensure they can work in lowlight and at night.

Do average speed cameras just record average speed?

No. Both cameras can measure the speed a vehicle passes by them at in the same way a usual point speed camera does. The cameras, because they’re also recording the vehicle’s numberplate, allows authorities to fine drivers, not only if they’re speeding, but also if their vehicle is unregistered or uninsured. Indeed, in several States, average speed cameras are being used to detect entry speed, exit speed and average speed and if one or all is above the posted speed limit the driver will be fined not once, but up to three times.

How will I know if I’ve been recorded speeding in an average speed zone?

When a notice of infringement lands in your letterbox. If you’ve travelled through an average speed camera zone then you will have been recorded by it. Average speed cameras don’t require a flash to record a vehicle or capture its numberplate.

How are average speed camera locations determined?

According to the various road services, locations are determined based on the number of accidents, speeding fines issued or road conditions.

Are average speed cameras the same across the country?

The hardware is the same, yes, but the detection priorities are not. As mentioned, in some States you can be fined for exceeding the posted speed limit upon entry and exit of the zone as well as if your average speed exceeds the posted speed limit.

Most States and Territories that use average speed cameras will use them to record all vehicles that travel through the zone, meaning cars and heavy vehicles. But, in NSW, only heavy vehicles are targeted.

Ignore the question of revenue raising if you can…because NSW’s stance is an odd one. Visit the RMS site and look up average speed cameras and it will boldly state that research shows average speed cameras can reduce the risk of serious or fatal crashes by 50 percent, yet, it still only uses them to target heavy vehicles. It justifies this position, “Average speed enforcement targets heavy vehicles because they are often involved in serious road crashes. Heavy vehicles make up only 2.4 percent of vehicle registrations, and 8.3 percent of kilometres travelled by NSW vehicles, however, are involved in about 17 percent of road fatalities. Average speed enforcement is also more suited to the long distances heavy vehicles travel”.

Question: Should NSW include all vehicle types in its infringement priorities for average speed camera zones (of which there are currently 25 around the State).


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  1. Bullshit police state.
    I’ve been driving for 50 years never had an accident except for 2 young people slamming into the back of me in last 12 months while I was stationary at traffic lights.
    Now have to spend as much time looking g at the speedo instead of concentrating on driving.
    No different than looking at a phone screen.
    Bloody nanny country dumbed down and being milked for every cent older drivers with clean record should get extra credits than the dimbarses that cause the majority of accidents.
    Speed limits are ok in general ,but if you overtake I,then naturally a higher speed is required to get out and in again safely instead of hanging out in the right lane for extended distance doing only 5 km an hour more than the car you are overtaking.
    Most of it revenue raising

  2. Hey Myles
    You should only overtake if the person in front of you is going below the speed limit. That’s why it’s called a limit, not a recommendation. Also if you’ve been driving for over fifty years, it may be time to catch the bus, as your brain functions and motor skills are beginning to worsen.
    Have fun in the nanny state!

    1. people like you are the reason why everyone else has to go as slow as the biggest idiot in society. Anonymous u are a burden on all around you and u think that your brain function is ok

    2. It is obvious you cannot read properly Anonymous. What Myles was clearly saying is that if you want to pass somebody who is doing 90 in a 100 zone (where safe of course) the 10 kph speed differential if adhered to means you could be out on the wrong side for an incredibly lengthy amount of time to get past.. It could take up to a kilometre to get past or even more or some ridiculous amount of time. If none of us passed a slower vehicle the domino effect would could into play and the tailback in traffic could go back hundreds of kilometres. Anybody when passing a slower vehicle and adhering to the speed limit when doing so would be in effect committing suicide! I have been driving also for nearly 55 years and am still involved in motor sport, driving, not watching. I too have a blameless accident record both on road and track except for some other person causing the accident. Employing sound judgement and experience seems lacking in many of todays drivers. Please don’t get me started on people in large 4WD’s who are constantly driving beyond the vehicles on road abilities. Phil

  3. Anonymous, if someone’s one or two km/h under the speed limit you will go over the limit to overtake them. Check your brain function first and your smug fly-boy attitude, Einstein.

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