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Inside Out


Mobile speed camera
Mobile speed camera

Speed Gun

Inside Out investigates the reliability of mobile speed cameras, hidden on police motorcycles and cars


Most motorists have a story to tell about getting a speeding fine. Every year across England and Wales over one and a half million people were convicted by speed cameras.

In the last year the numbers of mobile speed cameras hidden on police motorcycles, vans and cars have risen by more than a third meaning there are now over 3000 units in the country. These increases in mobile cameras will help raise over £20 million a year to the Chancellor. But how reliable are they?

Paul Cox got a speeding ticket whilst driving home. "I was driving a car with cruise control, set just under 70mph. I passed an unmarked police car that was doing checks. I was then pulled over and alleged to have been doing in excess of 90 mph".

Paul was convicted – but appealed and won. The court found there were discrepancies in the speed gun evidence used against him. "I was fortunate that as an ex-police officer, I was able to access information and to use my knowledge to know there was a discrepancy".

Paul Cox
Paul Cox

There are several types of laser guns used in Britain; all work on the same principle. An operator targets the vehicle, fires the button and the machine sends out an infra red pulse which then works out the speed the vehicle was travelling at. It is however, crucial that the gun is held still whilst a reading is taken. If the operator moves the gun at the critical moment, some very strange readings are registered.

Dr Michael Clark, an expert in laser technology, demonstrates by pointing a laser speed meter at a stationary car. It registers a speed of 6mph. This is a process known as ‘slip effect’, caused by the laser beam accidentally moving sideways, in the split second it is fired. The gun is effectively tricked, interpreting the tiny movement of the beam as a speed.

In theory, if the gun moved along the side of a car during a reading, then this could add the length of the car to the distance travelled, adding up to 30mph to the speed recorded.

The manufacturer of the most commonly used gun in the UK, the LT1 20.20 says it is impossible to get a false reading on a moving vehicle. They are not alone in believing the guns can never be wrong, Inside Out discovered that the Home Office doesn't test speed guns for slip effect at all.

We decided we should see if the machine could be fooled. We used a truck fitted with the latest satellite technology, and 2 laser guns. On the 11th attempt we found a gun registering a slip problem, registering a much higher speed. This would put the driver at risk of loosing his licence. From a further 11 attempts, 6 wrong readings were recorded.

Police say their operators are trained to hold the guns steady. But the equipment is used without tripods at ranges of up to a kilometre.

Professor of engineering and author John Brignell explains it would be very difficult to keep the device steady. "If you get a pair of powerful binoculars, and try and focus on the number of a moving car 500 metres away – it’s quite difficult"

Dr Michael Clark
Dr Michael Clark

He says that an operator, pointing at a car 500 metres away, would only need a minute movement to slip off his target. "Very roughly, it’s the camera moving about the thickness of a human hair".

Teletraffic, the police and the Home Office declined to take part in our programme, so we were unable to get hold of a gun here. Our tests used one from the US. In a statement, The Association of Chief Police Officers said our experiment was "misleading" because the UK-approved device uses different "error-trapping software" to the American version.

They also said "The Home Office Scientific Development Branch is of the opinion that the UK version will perform within permitted tolerances if used in accordance with the current published ACPO enforcement guidelines and will not replicate the errors shown by the American device".

Yet a report, obtained by Inside Out and written by Frank Garratt, Managing Director of Teletraffic suggests both versions of the LTi 20-20 are the same because the gun used by British Police is identical to the version used by NASA. And NASA then told Inside Out that the version they use is the American version. All of which seems to suggest that the UK and American speed guns are identical.

Dr Clarke believes the UK version is susceptible to error. "We used a US device for our tests; I can see no reason why the UK device should not suffer the same problems, both are based on the same technology and principles, with some minor variations".

Dr Clarke would welcome the opportunity to properly test an UK approved device so as to clear up any doubt about the reliability of the speed measurements made by this device.

The Home Office has declined all requests to do such testing. So, who is right? The Home Office or Dr Clark?


Statement

After transmission Meredydd Hughes of the Association of Chief Police Officers of England, Wales and Northern Ireland (ACPO) gave this statement:

"I believe this programme will mislead the public by implying that speed detection devices used and approved in the UK may be inaccurate without the evidence necessary to back this up.

"The programme focuses on a LTI laser speedmeter designed for the American market, which is not a Home Office type approved  device. The American version of the LTI laser speedmeter uses a different version of software to that approved for use in the UK. In particular, the Uk version has different error trapping software contained with it and it has been subjected to Home Office type approval testing, recognised as the most stringent in the world, to ensure its accuracy.

"The Home Office Scientific Development Branch is of the opinion that the UK version will perform within permitted tolerances if used in accordance with the current published ACPO enforcement guidelines and will not replicate the errors shown by the American.

"Offenders should be aware that if they decide to plead not guilty based on viewing this programme but are subsequently convicted, they are likely to get additional penalties imposed upon them by Courts in excess of the conditional penalty they would have received."

last updated: 13/09/05
Have Your Say
Do you think mobile speed cameras are reliable? Tell us about your experiences
Your name: 
Your comment: 
 
The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

DP
Given that the BBC, The Daily Mail and ITV have now all run tests and reached the conclusion that the equipment can produce a wrong reading without bringing up "error 3" (slip error) on screen it's obvious there is a problem. The party line is that follow the ACPO Code of Practice which explains the limitations of approval you'll be okay - this Code of Practice requires the officers use the equipment ONLY to corroborate their prior opinion and to record that in contemporaneous notes. I know this doesn't happen in at least one partnership (subject of on-going complaint) and that they simply point it at every car and if the pre-set limit is apparently breached it dumps the image for prosecution. The Police and Frank Garrett appear to accept operator skill is essential. It'd be good if they actually stuck to the ACPO Code of Practice - might remove the problems if 2 officers could provide primary evidence from notes, backed up with a camera reading. The LTI equipment should be suspended and re-tested for home office approval, with independent experts present (and the press) to restore credibility, or (more likely) to kill it off and replace it with something more certain!

Amar Khera
I think it is absolutely dusgusting that penalties, if challenged, are increased, especially in cases like these where there is significant evidence that mobile speed cameras can yield false readings. If the British authorities are so confident that their mobile cameras can account for "slip effect", then why don't they come out and explain how the sofware on their machines does this? Could it be, because the software actually does not account for slip effect? The citizen who is brave enough to challenge questionable evidence used against them, should be praised for their efforts to discover and question the reliabilty of police evidence (even if their appeal ultimately falls flat), not punished further by having their fines and penalties increased (in what is an undeniable inequality of treatment). This is just another example of the appalling state of the justice system in Britian today.

Mrs Ann RAO
I have just received my first threat of prosecution for exceeding the speed limit (43 mph in a 30 mph zone) In 41 yrs of driving , this is my first offence of any kind,I see in todays news that a Police big brass has been let off any penalty , and was doing 80 odd mph in a 40- mph zone , I hope that I may be treated with the same consideration, or do I pay up and shut up?? advice PLEASE.

Smeggy
Steve Callahan: your claims to have ‘not lost’ any case in court due to inaccuracies of the equipment is likely to be subject to a mathematical aberration – ‘bias on selection’; any camera partnership will not fight a case they know they will lose and the evidence will be destroyed. There have been many instances where the prosecution have dropped cases when the defendant, after pleading not guilty, requests the full video evidence. What would be the outcome if these particular cases were pushed all the way to court?

Smeggy
Dear Steve C. Why wouldn’t you concede that my technical argument couldn’t be faulted? You must have a good technical reason if you are to justify that comment. My answer may have been simple (it was for everyone to understand), but it was not an interpretation. The Lidar gun isn’t compex (at least for me), but in the interest of completeness: It sends out variable power laser pulses (ensuring the receiver isn’t saturated or under-driven, by means of pulse width measurement). The reflections are received by the avalanche diode (adjustable bias) which can only measure intensity with time, not Doppler shift or any other effect; hence it cannot distinguish reflections from static or swept targets. This signal is sent to a comparator (reference level adjustable for background levels and countermeasure noise), which removes the intensity information to give ‘clean’ digital pulses, which are in turn is sent to the gating (for predictive ‘lock on’), interpolation and timing circuits. The rising edge delay for each returned pulse is measured against an internal reference pulse (processed in much the same way). Therefore, measurement of a moving target and sweeping a stationary continuous surface (not necessarily flat, depending on hand movement) will result with the same digital pulse train from the comparator, each consecutive pulse having a uniform rate of change of delay with time. So the question remains: how can the rest of the gun differentiate between the results of these two measurements? It can’t, the hardware does not support panning detection, instead some software algorithms have been cobbled together in the hope that it will cure the problem. Let’s forgo the bizarre claim that LTI would supply the American Police with a version of the gun which is much more prone to this ‘needless’ error. The acceptance windows may be tighter for the UK models, but this will only mean that the window of opportunity for a false reading is reduced by the same ratio, but it won’t be eliminated. If it’s possible to get a speed reading, it’s also possible to get a sweep reading. Not so ‘poorly conceived’ now huh? It's not just plausible - it’s inherently possible. I will agree with one of your points, perhaps your deliberate attempts of sweeping were not done correctly. What about vehicle mounted units? Do you lock out the suspension when carrying out speed enforcement? The mass and the dampening components of the van will ensure a smooth motion is applied. Interestingly, I emailed Frank Garratt almost two weeks ago asking much the same thing. He has put himself in a tough position by admitting that false speeds are produced from stationary targets, even from UK models; I’ve still had no reply. Cheers

Ernest Marsh
Mr Callaghan, when I said in an earlier post <<<"the device is designed to be used as a surveying tool, where it very accurately measures distances, and is used as such by some police accident investigators to produce an accurate record of a crash scene. Additional Software can also be employed to use those very accurate range checks, to determine the speed of a vehicle. It does this by interpreting the changing DISTANCE from the device to the vehicle over a set period of time, to calculate the speed." >>> you responded with <<<"how an engraver with no technical knowledge of such devices can now provide credible opinion of laser range finding equipment.">>> implying that as an engraver, I would be unable to explain how the LTI works. However, in your response to Smeggy's insistance that you address his question, you say <<>> which apart from the additional information I appended regarding the LTI's survey capability, seems similar to you over technical description. Are you letting your ire towards me colour your responses? I realise that my constant questioning of your methods, and exposure to the press of your questionable actions such as doubling up cameras in order to double the penalty at one site, are irksome, but you should not let this get in the way of accepting mine was a proper description of the LTI's methodology! You COULD apply to the BBC to have my posts deleted if you find my disclosures worrying, or even apply to have the ISP WITHDRAW their service as you have done with the Safespeed web forum in order to gag me, but sooner or later, you will realise you cannot gag free speech or thought without appearing in court with EVIDENCE. They will not let you simply refuse to reveal information requested under the FOI by the local paper, or refuse to provide equipment to be tested when a respected investigative part of the BBC has demonstrated it might well be flawed!! Underlying ALL this obfuscation on your part, is the fact cameras do not detain offenders, but allow them to continue offending!!

Steve Callaghan
I'm not really wanting to say much more about this subject other that the test is not an accurate reflection on how this device is used, rather it is specifically designed to generate a failure I have yet to see. Perhaps if another test was run alongside this one where the device is used as it should be with it measuring the known speed of the target vehicle, I predict that it will read 100% correctly.

Enrico Vanni
We are now tiring of reading Mr Callaghan repeating HIS experiences of using the LTI 20-20. Even if he was an impartial source (which he isn't) his is merely one set of anecdotal experiences. Mr Callaghan is displaying a certain level of arrogance if he believes that the public at large should accept his statements ultimately, finally and without question.

Peter
From Mr. Callaghan's comments he does seem rather paranoid in respect of Mr. Marsh. From the BBC programme there are some important issues to be addressed if there is to be any sort of perceived justice with speed cameras. Is it true that in Mr. Callaghan's region deaths on the road have actually increased during his period in charge? If this is so, then rather than getting grumpy with Mr. Marsh, perhaps he should be looking into the failure of his organisation. 'Smeggy's questoins are what Mr. Callaghan should be answering.

Steve Callaghan
Dear Smeggy I wouldn't concede that your technical argument couldn't be faulted. Your poits regarding the way in which objects are measured, that being the change in distance over time is correct and the measurement is a function of the movement of the measured object and the movement of the measuring device (that being usually still) resulting in teh speed of the target being displayed. As I have said on many occasions previously, I have never experienced any form of measurement above 0 mph for objects that were stationary no matter what sort of sweeping movement is applied to the measuring device. We have tried it on vehicles, walls, roads surfaces and numerous other objects. We have tried to sweep the device in as smooth a manner as we can to simulate a constant movement to try to fool the device into accepting an acceptable speed reading due to a smooth or straight line change in distance over time, alll with no success in producing a speed reading due to a sweep type error. I have read your technical desciptions of the system operation and they are a simple interpretation that is what I would say an acceptable interpretation of the operation but have seen no way to produce the effects shown in the program or from how you predict they would occur. Perhaps all of our efforts are just not smooth enough to get past the threshold of acceptance in the error trapping mechanism but I cannot accept that the efforts of the skilled operators, including myself as an operator and observer, can fail on every occasion we have tried to reproduce this so called sweep error. As we have constantly failed to reproduce the error on purpose, I am led to believe and believe very strongly that there is no such error occuring in the operational arena. Your theory is plausible but I think that is as far as it goes, in practice there is enough of a narrow acceptance threshold in the system as supplied to us that causes the UK supplied system to reject these anomalies shown in the program. My testing and evaluation is ongoing and with yet another case being won today after a laser inaccuracy challenge which was defeated when I corroborated the laser measurement with an average speed calculation from the video and road markings, our LTI20.20 is still producing reliable evidence. SteveC

Enrico Vanni
Mr Callaghan has decided to turn this important issue into a personal argument with one of the respondents while ignoring the questions of others. I would like to see him respond to 'Smeggy's technical questions regarding the operation of the LTI 20-20. Mr Callaghan's opinions, experiences, anecdotes and assurances are worthless in this context - we need facts.

Steve Callaghan
Come on Ernest, you must really try harder than that, you know very well I don't have any interest whatsoever in keeping my job. I have told you time and time again I don't have to work at all so how would I have any interest whatsoever in attempting to keep up a revenue stream to keep me in a job. I have 2 pensions paying already and business interests that top those up. You really are clutching at straws with that very very tired old charge borrowed off someone elses forum. My starting wage was less than a third of my previous salary and is nowhere near half almost 3 years after I started so why would I bother? Just how am I hiding behind the Official Secrets Act, not that you would recognise it if you tripped over it? Point me down this list and that of any other forum and show me how many of the Safety Camera Managers are participating in public debate. So how is that hiding behind an act I have and probably still am subject to? I'm not criticisinng them in any way at all and they may be excercising better judgement on just who they grant credibility to when they do enter into debte, I am obviously not so choosy and probably don't really give a toss about my income because it's sorted. Now that gives me a much more comfortable platform for debate than you are suggesting with your unfounded job protection scheme charge. As I have said on many occasions, I have not detected any false readings in challenged cases when I have carried out alternate time/distance measurements (a technique favoured by defendants) nor have I detected any slip (ha ha) in testing on a measured range using time/distance to verify the laser readings. Of course your opinion based on having no prior engineering knowledge, practice or understanding of the system and the error detection mechanisms is somehow credible enough to decry the opinion of practitioners, engineers scientists etc, come off it Ernest, you are starting to sound a little out of your depth. The system is not rocket science, another of my past experiences, but again you can comment on it but as in the LTI20.20 your opinion is at best a guess and at worst sheep like repetition of those with a vested anti-camera agenda. Keep going with your secret plot by the authorities to extort a stealth tax, it's almost as mad as suggesting your assessment of the LTI20.20 is based on some sort of understanding. No offence mate! :)

Peter
If Mr. Callaghan were as straightforward and as interested in road safety as he pretends he would be anxious to have the potentially defective speed gun tested under controlled and independent conditions.Instead, as is his wont, he hides behind the statement that they are 100% accurate, 100% of the time. This is clearly untrue, but since Mr. Callaghan's organisation and all their lucrative jobs depend on sustaining the myth of speed camera total accuracy his attitude is not surprising. There is a definate question mark over the accuracy of this piece of equipment and, indeed, over the entire speed camera system's ability to cut deaths on the roads of the UK.

SC
There is no doubt that whether or not the camera's are accurate, there is a perception problem with the British public that they maybe wrongly convicted of speeding. Mr Callaghan, no matter how sincere your words, the only way to solve this is to submit a British Camera to the BBC for Tests. You have the power to do this. If they show no errors, then your perception problem is over, and you will have won the debate. Until that time, you will continue to loose!

Ernest Marsh
One should not underestimate Steve Callaghan's determination to ensure his job is safe, and that "Safety Cameras" continue to be employed in a unique one track approach to road safety. When in answer to his assertion that none of his cameras were hidden and were in plain view, I provided a photograph in which the van could not be clearly seen, Mr Callaghan questioned MY integrity by suggesting the van was not in position when I took the picture! He was eventually forced to conceed and have the grass and vegetation around the van site cut back - but not before he had adopted the same "I'm right - you're wrong" approach you see here. A simple and honest course of allowing the LTI to be tested or scrutinised would set most people's minds at rest, but something more seems needed to set Mr Callaghan's mind at rest, since he and the Home Office seem exceedingly reluctant to offer this simple remedey. Mr Callaghan has spent so much time living behind the protective curtain of the official secrets act, he feels he can draw it around his own operation, and seeks to stifle public debate and opinion. At last the BBC has seen fit to step out of the shadow cast by the WMD and David Kelly affair, and expose the Government's policy of trying to keep the public in the dark "because they say so". Mr Callaghan's finger in the dike may yet prove to be inadequate!!

Charlie
Steve Callaghan keeps going on about the stringent Home Office testing. Can he confirm what tests were done for "slip effect"? In fact could he detail what testing actually took place? I think he is just toeing the line, and while he his prepared to state how stringent it was, I bet he doesn't actually know what testing took place.

Hugh
Bottom line, if these devices were reliable why didnt the home office take part in the BBC tests? If the expert in the program is soo wrong why not prove it and end the debate? If you have nothing to hide then prove it but your silence speaks volumes!

Smeggy
Dear Steve C. You are right to say that people help each other to get out of speeding fines/endorsements; many couldn’t blame them given the effectiveness of the current policies. Some could say that the opposite extreme could be applied to you. However, as I already said, this is not relevant so we shouldn’t dwell on it. My comment regarding ‘more effective/cheaper/broader/fairer/safer solutions’ was in the context of monitoring/improving driver behaviour instead of relying purely on speed measurement. Again, this is not relevant so we shouldn’t dwell on it. When you said “poorly conceived smear” did you mean to include my argument within that description? If so, please justify that statement. Have you seen the footage of Frank Garrett admitting on camera that panning errors can occur? (source: BBC). Did I not properly substantiate my claim by giving a full, clear and accurate technical assessment of how the device operates and how it can result with a false reading? There’s no reason why are unable to settle this on a factual basis. Even if you don’t know, your position should enable you to quickly retrieve the relevant information and highlight any errors in my argument. Given that we are both seasoned electronic engineers who have intimate knowledge of the workings of the LTI, I think many readers would draw conclusions if you continue to evade issues raised in my technical post. Also, I have examined all of LTI’s patents (US and worldwide); all aspects of the gun are covered but there is absolutely no mention of any means to eliminate this kind of panning error. This is pertinent to the discussion, so I see no reason why I should let this drop until I get a reasonable answer. Cheers

4 WHEEL WALLET
>>Just look at the anti-camera self help websites, they are full of people helping each other lie, cheat perjure and pervert justice to get out of a ticket for speeding<< What goes around comes around Mr Callaghan. You maty feel that you have integrity and are doing the public a service. However our attitude and your ststistics prove otherwise...

Enrico Vanni
Mr Callaghan can say what he likes (and boy does he say a lot...) but one thing he cannot deny is that he talks from a standpoint where he has a vested interest in these devices being seen to be accurate. Only a fool trusts the sharks when they say it is safe to go in the water. The only way to resolve this issue is for it to be put into the hands of independent arbiters. Oh, hang on - isn't that what Mr Callaghan et al on the camera partnership side are saying isn't necessary......?!

Danny
Steve Callaghan wrote "Just look at the anti-camera self help websites, they are full of people helping each other lie, cheat perjure and pervert justice to get out of a ticket for speeding. That is being countered by what is a rather pathetic claim that safety camera partnerships are "collecting revenue" for the government, ..." Why's that then Steve? It was never like this when traffic police did the job, you know back in the days when fatal crashes were reducing year on year. Here’s a set of numbers. Can you work out what they are Steve? 49 in 2001, 49 in 2002, 53 in 2003, 59 in 2004. (Answers on Cumbria Safety Camera website - facts and figures page) Nicking someone for 79mph at 7am on a quiet Cumbrian motorway does zilch for road safety, but I bet M6 speeders contribute the most to your annual gross income. Most of these people you mentioned above, and most of the dissenting voices I've 'heard' on web sites are angry because of this irresponsible invasion into this countries’ previously enviable road safety record. If they can use legal methods, which they do, to confuse your operation, then more power to them. It is time to come clean, admit that the stats that suggest cameras save lives are deeply and knowingly flawed, and let the country know all about the great camera con trick.

Ernest Marsh
I have long advocated the use of cameras - but prefer them to be used in the hands of policemen (not civilians), who STOP the offender at the scene instead of letting them continue on their way and collecting the money by post a few days later. Of course they can multitask, and stop drivers with dodgy tyres, careless drivers, DUI's driving without due care, etc. but of course that would mean an end to the £1.6 million pounds which passed through your hands (on which your wages depend - a great incentive to "keep up the good work") while fatal accidents increased! No wonder you don't wish your equipment to be called into questioned, or tested - just in case you are wrong! Better to be safe than sorry eh?

Steve Callaghan
Dear Smeggy "there are far more effective/cheaper/broader/fairer/safer solutions available, I really don't understand why camera partnerships don't use such alternatives. " There sure are cheaper alternatives. For instance, I could stand on a motorway bridge and set a video running armed with a £14.99 stopwatch, no HO Approval required. In fact when the accuracy of teh laser has been called into question, we use this method to confirm its reading. The timing device is the clock on the video, highly accurate (enough for time/distance measurements of this nature anyway) and independent of the laser system. So far, every challenge of this nature has been proved the laser reading to be the same as or as close as makes no diference to the average speed measurement. The reason I am not buying the arguments againsty the camera put forward here is that they are all coming from those with anti-camera history with the exception of Dr Clarke as far as I know whose reasons for involvement I can only guess. Just look at the anti-camera self help websites, they are full of people helping each other lie, cheat perjure and pervert justice to get out of a ticket for speeding. That is being countered by what is a rather pathetic claim that safety camera partnerships are "collecting revenue" for the government, for someone to think that is what I would do is quite nauseating as I am fervently against any such covert taxation. The revenues of the partnership are entirely under my control without any instruction or supervision, I report it yes, but am not supervised in any way regarding income, surplus or defecit. So there you go, I use a device that is tested stringently by the HOSB, I have tested it myself along with my staff before and after this ratehr petty challenge and I see no further requirement to test it further or consider this poorly conceived smear on the device. What I do see are rather pathetic attempts by some motorists to use this challenge by saying things like "my cruise control was set at 65 mph so I couldn't have been doing 86 mph, perhaps the device has slip error", my answer to that after doing an average speed confirmation is to get the Police to issue a ticket to get the vehicle checked for a defect or to interview the driver for an attempt to pervert, whichever is the most appropriate. The next thing they will be telling you is that if the Police Officer didn't have his hat on you can get off your ticket!!! What I will say is beware the part time paralegal advisor on the web, you may end up in more trouble that you would be in by accepting what you know to be the truth and a £60.00 fine with 3 points. Don't ask me but I'm sure those who were found to be in error wished they had. The choice is yours!

Ernest Marsh
My thought was the desire to avoid seeing the equipment properly tested seems to indicate a lack of interest in the "safety" aspect of it's use! If a crash barrier was suspected of not doing it's job, it would be tested, but since this little gizmo earns it's crust, it's not!

Smeggy
Ernest, The impact (or lack thereof) of such equipment on road safety deeply concerns me; there are far more effective/cheaper/broader/fairer/safer solutions available, I really don't understand why camera partnerships don't use such alternatives. However, this is not the point of this topic so I will remain focussed on the claimed infallibility.

Ernest Marsh
Are there many here who see this issue as just a piece of equipment likely to lead to a miscarriage of justice, or are you just as concerned at the use the equipment is put to in the name of road safety?

Smeggy
Dear Steve C. Thanks for your response. I won’t question your integrity, mostly because I don’t feel there’s need to do so. I hope to have demonstrated to you via my last post that I, also an electronic design engineer, have a reasonable technical knowledge of the inner workings of the equipment. The methods of error trapping between models may differ, but the principle of speed measurement remains the same; it can be fooled. Can I conclude that you cannot fault my technical argument? Frank Garratt (MD of Tele-Traffic, UK LTI manufacturer) admitted on camera that it’s not possible to trap panning errors on stationary objects; your claim of never getting a false speed reading from a stationary target directly contradicts this statement. Therefore you must be doing something right, or wrong, depending on your point of view :c) While I won’t deny that you’ve never had a false result, do you deny that it’s possible to get one?

Ernest Marsh
Unlike yourself, I dont have blind faith in anything, especially where it concerns government and civil service assertions! I suggest you look up (amongst others)the "mylostoppos" website, constructed by a CPO, and fully trained EWD. He is a lot more convincing than the people who refuse to have any form of enquiry to set peoples minds at rest, instead wishing only to preserve THEIR version of the truth! A bit like your laser kit really - you would just hate for the truth to come out, so you hide behind the small print in the freedom of information act, denying the local paper information which would show up your claims for what they are. AND, you would deny others the oportunity to test the equipment you use, and expect us to believe your assertion that it works. At least we should take comfort in the fact you are doing what you are paid to do - implement the Governments revenue collection, thinly disguised as road 'safety'. That is something "Inside Out" should look into! Isn't it true you only record the offence, and you actually allow it to continue as the offender is free to drive on? Hardly SAFE is it?

Pricey
Home Office "testing" the best in the world? Come off it! Have you actually seen the tests they actually did? No tests for slip. No tests for reflection. A few cars one way and a few cars the other way on a nice quiet test track. Give me a break. This is appalling testing designed to prove the device works rather than try to find out if it can go wrong. As for expecting us to belive what we are told. How thick do these people think we are. One minute Mr. Garratt says you can barely get slip from a stationary surface. When that is demonstrated he changes his story to say you can't get slip on a moving vehicles. When that is demonstrated he changes it again to say that only the US devices show the problem. It is difficult to have confidence in the authorities when they change their story continually. As far as I can make out the only people on here defending the LTI 20.20 are the people who have an interest in the ongoing use of the devices. It's time to stop the spin and have an open, honest, adult debate. Let's give one of the devices to the BBC and let them do some extensive, proper testing. The police are meant to SERVE the people of this country, not lie to them.

Steve Callaghan
Ernest Why do you insist on repeating information you know nothing about? Do you have a blind faith in the media, you really shouldn't have you know. As far as I know the systems didn't have to be "turned off" but then what would I know from within the RN when I have the media and you to provide me with more accurate reports. :) This is a perfect illustration of how this story and those legends from the Falklands have become distorted and turned fntasy and fiction into popular fact for the gullible. Keep it up you will surely strengthen my suggestion that your opinions are inaccurate. S

Steve Callaghan
dear Mr Johnson No I don't believe it is 100% accurate but it doesn't have to be. All it needs to do is to confirm that a vehicle is exceeding the speed limit. When enforcement commences at a speed which is 10% +2 mph above a speed limit the fact that a device is not 100% accurate is more than covered by this generous allowance. Alll the prosecution have to do is to prove that a driver has driven a vehicle in excess of the speed limit, when that is done for say 9 mph above 70 mph as a minimum prosecution speed especially after that vehicle is identified by the operator as having appeared to be travelling in excess of 70 mph, then it is plainly obvious that 100% accuracy is not required. The inaccuracies talked about in the Inside Out programme have not been observed by ourselves even after trying to recreate them. The demonstration in the programme was done using a geometry of measurement that would cause me to take disciplinary action or a minimum of retraining or both should I suspect or find any operator repeating it. When they saw the programme it was inn an atmosphere of disgust that the device was called into question in such a false senario. Get your team to operate it iin a reasonable geometry and recreate the problem and I'll take another look at it but we have used exaggerate geometry in a recent test the data of which I am beginning to analyse and assemble into a report. So far it is indicating no errors. Please remember, you don't get a ticket for travelling at 81, 82, 83 mph, you usually get it for travelling in excess of the speed limit and by a large margin at that! Cheers S

Steve Callaghan
Dear Smeggy The latest test were carried out by an operator who did it on the last site of his shift on a cold Saturday (they are mostly cold in Cumbria!). None of our operators have admitted to deliberately trying to get false readings, I realise I have no absolute guarantee they don't but the number of genuinely speeding motorists precludes the need to attempt to exacerbate the current attitude to speed from the majority of motorists unfortunately. So I firmly believe all of my operators are of high integrity. Contrary to opinion on other forums I also operate this equipment myself, I don't hold with not being able to carry out what I manage, so I am a practiced operator as well as having a reasonable technical knowledge of the equipment. As far as your later post is concerned, we have tried on many occasions followig the descriptions of the incorrect operation to get false speed readings from stationary objects, walls, vehicles, barriers, the road surface etc and have still failed to get ONE reading above 0 mph. Now we are all practiced operators, my technicians operate this kit for about 20 hours per week, week in week out and they can't do it as yet. We did have one defendant attempt to use the armco barrier moving at 90 mph+ story but a description of hos the laser works supported by a VASCAR type speed measurement from the video (lots of road furniture to use as a reference for distance) did for that weak defence as it will do in the future. It is very easy to assess the speed of vehicles even at distance, especially when the target vehicle is in the company of other traffic so only high speed vehicles are measured when that skill is built up. We train that skill whereas it is normally picked up over a very long time through experience. So all in all, I am satisfied that the device is adequate for determining that a vehicle is travelling in excess of the speed limit as it should. Cheers S

Ernest Marsh
Thank you Steve Callaghan for your endorsement of my chosen career. The Lasertech website has excellent diagrams and specs detailing the survey techniques employed, and the manner in which the LTI 20-20 works - although I find it strange they equate a speed accuracy of +/- 1mph as being the equal of 2 kph! Your blind faith in electronics is typical of the attitude which lost us ships in the Falklands conflict, when detection systems had to be turned off to enable communications systems to be employed. Presumably these systems were tested and passed for use by the same government agencies which test the LTI laser! Of course you have no mail from the Home Office, they failed to carry out tests as detailed in the Inside Out program!! PUGIT has summed it up - if the equipment is infallible, why deny the opportunity to put it to the test - just what are you afraid of?

Smeggy
Here’s another nail: How on earth can Frank Garratt (MD of Tele-Traffic, UK LTI manufacturer) possibly justify his claim that the LTI will not be fooled if the beam is swept across a moving vehicle, given the fact that he admitted (in the same breath) that repeating the same action on a stationary vehicle WILL generate false readings? The LTI does not know if the target vehicle is moving as it does not measure Doppler Effect. Instead, it works by measuring the time-of-flight of the IR pulses: from the gun, to the target reflective surface, back to the gun. Therefore it computes and compares snapshots of distances to the target, whatever the taget may be, regardless of its relative/absolute speed and direction (patent US5359404). What if the beam missed and was instead swept along an Armco/central reservation/Catseyes/rumble-strips? By his own definition, Frank Garratt cannot dispute that the LTI will give false readings. This lengthy stationary object would generate a very high reading when enforcing over large distances, well in excess of 30mph. The LTI will not detect an error because each computed distance will be changing uniformly with time, in exactly the same way when targeting a moving vehicle.

Puggit
Steve Callaghan - as you operate 4 of these devices earning cash for the Cumbria Partnerships, and as you believe that they are 100% infallible - perhaps you would care to lend one to an independent group to verify the claims made by groups for and against. I look forward to your answer, IF it arrives.

Dave Johnson
Does Mr. Callaghan mean that he believes his equipment is 100% accurate, 100% of the time Surely no electronic kit is that accurate. In engineering everything has a tolerance in normal application. What is the tolerance on this bit of kit? Even when used absolutely in line with ACPO guidelines it must have a tolerance.However, what is then the potential for error if not use EXACTLY as required by the ACPO guidelines? Now we are starting to see where the inaccuracies might start to appear. Are mobile speed cameras reliable? Of course not, they can't be, it's an engineering impossibility.

Jim Bowen
Some of the predictable comments on here from those with a vested interest in cameras (in terms of their job / revenue) still trot out the same old simple "speed kills" soundbite. They know full well, or should by now, that speed-related accidents can only be attributed to less than 2% of accidents. 98% are caused by other means. Means which cannot so easily be policed or have revenue extracted in attempts to reduce of course.

Smeggy (steve)
Steve Callaghan I’ll take your word at your perfect results. However, perhaps this could be because you were doing your tests in a sterile environment, conscious that you are being monitored, sub-consciously encouraging you to be alert and aware of your actions? Can you really confidently apply your findings to operators who are doing the job routinely, aiming the gun hundreds of times per day, day in day out, who after many hours become oblivious to the fact that they’re not following the ACPO guidelines to the letter. All the while fatigue is setting in, they get the shivers as they become cold, the wind gently rocking their hands. Have your really accounted for these factors? Let’s not be naive by dismissing the possibility of operators who deliberately try to get a wrong reading, through malice or boredom. When do you plan to re-open the CSCP forums?

Ian Hopley
Actually Aran, I have a clean licence. I just don't like seeing people getting killed on our roads due to greedy and inept "enforcement" of policies that simply don't work. Of course, I could just blindly accept the goverment's word for it without question and if that works for you then good luck mate! Oh, and speaking of unconvincing, have the government found all those weapons of mass destruction in Iraq yet?

James
The authorities could stop all comment / conjecture and so on if they were to submit the devices to open testing, why not live on TV in front of millions. After all, it affects most people. You have to ask why not don't you? Are they arrogant or are they hiding something?

Justin
Dear Mr Callaghan, I understand your viewpoint and that you have tested the LTI2020 personally, however did you test in a real world situation? For example, did you test the accuracy of the device handheld at say 400-500 metres away? As you are aware the device is approved for use with use of the ACPO guidelines. The guidelines themselves make reference to slip error, and warns operators of how to reduce the occurances of them. Another important factor is that you and others have mentioned that as results will be accurate as long as the ACPO guidelines are followed. Are we then by default saying that if the guidelines are not followed, the evidence may be inaccurate. After all, if it *were* as easy to aim the device at any point on the car, pull the trigger and record the result, I am sure that the training need not be particularly difficult, and the resources spent testing and compiling the ACPO guidelines would be meaningless. It would be as good as saying, if a speed is recorded, it must be right!? I am aware that the ACPO guidelines are not followed *systematically* by at least one officer. Are we to assume that the guidelines have been followed in every case, and if they have not are we as the public right to blindly trust the reading of someone who is well trained but failed to use the device properly? Whilst the public front of the 'testing, training and guidelines' holds up in theory, the same ACPO guidelines which must be followed to gain accurate evidence are simply not followed by many of the people using the devices. Furthermore they are not legally recognised as requirements by the courts. Thus, there are a number of cases where the device has been used or tested improperly, at distances where it is impossible to gain a corrobarative assessment of speed, and people being prosecuted. Whilst you have tested the device using the ACPO guidelines, you surely cannot blindly support cases where the guidelines *have not* been followed? I would appreciate your comments. Many thanks.

Steve Callaghan
Mr Callaghan also says that the independent investigation into the device provided by the HOSB and its success indicates that the device is of high integrity. He also wonders how an engraver with no technical knowledge of such devices can now provide credible opinion of laser range finding equipment. All assumptions have been made with no regard for the width of the laser beam and the correllation of the returned beam by the receiver. I await the notice from the Home Office to withdraw the equipment, there appears to be nothing in my mail to this effect. Cheers S

Ernest Marsh
Actualy Mr Hewitt, the device is designed to be used as a surveying tool, where it very accurately measures distances, and is used as such by some police accident investigators to produce an accurate record of a crash scene. Additional Software can also be employed to use those very accurate range checks, to determine the speed of a vehicle. It does this by interpreting the changing DISTANCE from the device to the vehicle over a set period of time, to calculate the speed. This only works if the SAME part of the vehicle is targeted during the readings. If not, the calculation is flawed by the movement of the aiming point in addition to the vehicle movement. Mr Callaghan assures us his operators are trained to do this. Surprisingly, the British Army has difficulty finding snipers who can match the accuracy at the ranges many of our camera partnerships operate at, as evidenced by film released to victims in court! Software is supposedly built in to 'trap' these errors, but the software code has never been made available for independant assessment - the only assurance that it works comes from the manufacturer. CLEARLY the device has a flaw, which the BBC has demonstrated. The issue is whether that flaw could affect it's every day use. Mr Callaghan says not.

Aran
Exactly Julian, we have the HO testing, the best in the world, against a few anti-camera bods with a bee in their bonnet and a few points on their licence wanting to be able to get away with speeding. Not a convincing challenge I'm afraid, very poor indeed. A

Ian Hopley
No, Julian. It's not so much "don't seem to grasp" as "don't necessarily believe"! I'm afraid we (the public) have been duped all too often by the government who, it has to be said, do rather well out of speeding fines, and extra insurance premium tax on those with points on their licenses and extra VAT on the insurance tax... And for what? We are not saving significantly more lives nationally each year despite the proliferation of speed traps all over the country. That should tell the government something but they don't seem to be listening!

Julian Hewitt
There is no error software built into the device for when it is used on a static object. Why should there be? It is designed to be used on moving vehicles. On a moving vehicle the error software will activate to indicate a fault. Those calling for a test of the equipment don't seem to grasp that it has already been tested by one of the most thourough testing system in the world - the Home Office type approval system.

Ian Hopley
So, from initially saying that these devices were completely immune from error, we now seem to be saying that this is the case "if used correctly"? That is enough to "cast reasonable doubt" in my mind! Could Steve Callaghan tell us a little about the checks and balances in place to ensure that the devices are ALWAYS used correctly? Are the Cumbrian operators trained police oficers or civilians? What training would the latter undergo? How is correct useage of the equipment by these operators monitored and audited? It seems to me that a great deal must be taken on trust by the accused motorist! That simply isn't good enough to my mind.

Ernest Marsh
Quote by Martin: I feel that if there is a single shred of doubt then these devices should be scrapped. Obviously they won't be, because revenue will take precedence over justice (as usual). Only a charlatan would wish to prevent the device being tested thoroughly after doubts have been raised as to it's accuracy - after all, if they are so certain of it's reliability, what have they got to lose? More motorists should elect to have their day in court, and put the expert witness - the man who SELLS the cameras to our enforcement agencies - on the spot!! You tend to find having the fox comment on the safety of the hen coop results in dead chickens!

Paul
I tested a UK model of the LTI 20.20 Ultralyte 100 LR on the weekend. It demonstrated the same errors shown in the program. This suggests that the ACPO statement that the UK version "will not replicate the errors shown by the American device" is wrong. I also demonstrated a new type of error with the UK device. Just like visible light, laser light gets reflected. I pointed the laser at car at a shallow angle. Exactly the sort of angle they are operated at. This car was not moving. However the device read a speed. The laser had been reflected and struck a second car - which I was not aiming the laser at! So it would also appear that you can read the WRONG target without even knowing it. Steve Callaghan has still not explained the Police witness who stated he has seen "unexaplained" errors. Nor has he explained the footage shown in the previous programme which clearly showed spurious readings. Cars shown coming towards the camera were displayed with negative speeds, or not moving at all! If there is nothing to hide then the Police should have no problems with handing over some equipment to the BBC for some thorough testing. If they do not, then they are futher losing the confidence of the public they are meant to serve.

Steve Callaghan
If there was a shread of doubt I am certain there would be a move to stop using them but there isn't so they haven't been!

Martin
I feel that if there is a single shred of doubt then these devices should be scrapped. Obviously they won't be, because revenue will take precedence over justice (as usual).

Steve Callaghan
The method of operation employed on the Inside Out program is NOT the method employed in the field. If I found any of my operators using the geometry employed by those on the Inside Out program I would retrain them. How many incorrect readings were found when the geometry was correct and the thresholds set as expected? I saw none! I and 7 other operators are yet to see readings that have been demonstrated as obviously erroneous/spurious or not what has been expected. We have also tested the device in an exagerated geometry as on Inside Out (perhaps not as exagerated but certainly beyond what would be used for enforcement), the result, still no errors when checked against secondary speed measurement. All of our tests have been as predicted by the Home Office Type Approval. No false readings have been obtained by reproducing the tests as shown in the program despite much practice. Why isn't he distance measuring technique accurate? We have calibrated the measuring range using VASCAR and we are using the frame counter on the video that will give us a set of marks accurate to 40mSec. When used to calculate speeds over 90/180/270m the average works out very close (within 1mph) of the expected speed when taking cosine error into account. Try explaining why the average speed is consistent with the laser speed time after time, would a "sweep error" always give the same inaccuracy as the time/distance inaccuracy? No way. The evidence, the testing and the false situation demonstrated have provided a contrived situation that does not cal the device into any reasonable doubt, this is backed up by the support it has maintained during this rather poor attempt at undermining it. The attempt is quite shocking in its rather feeble foundations.

Ernest Marsh
Quote Steve Callaghan: "Perhaps I should arange for a video recording to be made of the operators so I can ensure they don't operate the devices like they were on the InsideOut program!" As I said in my earlier response, flawed equipment is just the tip of the iceberg in the speed camera debate - perhaps you could explain the causes of the accidents you claim to be reducing with SPEED cameras, instead of hiding behind the Freedom of Information Act, and refusing. Do you have something else to hide, besides not allowing for testing of UK model LTI 20/20 laser devices.... or does the government TELL you not to reveal this dark secret..?

An Engineer
I wonder if I might be able to respond to the questions asked. I was asked to explain why I felt the experiment was well conducted. 1. The experiment was SIMPLE. This makes it easy to undersdtand what was going on. 2. The experiment was REPRODUCEABLE. The same experiment can be repeated easily. 3. The experiment contained minimal external factors. For example, no other vehicles were in the vicinity to interfere with the results. 4. A number of ways of reading the speed were employed - speedometer, GPS, second laser device. These were all cross checked. The BBC did not claim that the experiment replicated a real enforcement session, but in the same way a wind tunnel provides useful data from a simulated environment, so does this experiment. The experiment demonstrates, beyond doubt, that it is possible to "fool" the device. In other words the device's error detection and trapping is not 100%. This is in direct contradiction to what the manufacturer's told the BBC in the previous programme, and what the same people, acting as "expert" witnesses have stated in Court. The BBC detailed ways in which the same errors could happen in a real enformcement session and they also provided a genuine witness - who stated that he had seen "unexplainable" readings during real sessions. The type approval process clearly did not test the device properly - no tests were done concerning the "slip" effect, and access to equipment to perform further tests is refused. What is the big secret? All of this could be pure co-incidence but it does warrant proper, independent investigation. I consider Steve Callaghan somewhat naive. Saying that experienced engineers should have no say, or no thoughts on an engineering matter is clearly ridiculous. How many engineers who worked on the Space Shuttle have actually flown it? His comments on targeting a vehicle side on are interesting. Vehicles contain all sorts of shapes and angles, and no matter which angle you target them from, there are surfaces over which the slip effect could take place. At distance there is clearly no way the aiming point can be steady, and we haven't even talked about parallax effects yet. Even the best marksmen in the world are not 100% accurate in their aim. Mr. Callaghan's distance measuring technique is fine as it goes, but by no means accurate, and in any event he will have covered only a tiny fraction of all the readings taken by the device in the field. I would argue, therefore, that stating 0.00000001% of readings are approximately right is hardly conclusive! In practise I believe that these devices will seldom read the correct speed. Not exactly anyway. However I believe that there will be an error distribution. Most of the time they will be accurate to within 2mph say. Some of the time they will be accurate to within 5mph. Less often still they will be accurate to within 10mph. Very rarely they will give "clearly silly" results. This gives us problems. Many errors will go un-noticed. Operators can hardly be expected to spot the difference between 30mph and 35mph - especially given that operators are targeting vehicles so far away. Proving accuracy for a given reading is therefore difficult. This gives rise to legal issues where the burden of proof supposedly lies with the prosecution. It is also important that the public have trust in the device. There must be universal support for the device and it's use. How much debate is there of breathalysers? There are secondary checks (blood tests) and these seem fair and reasonable to me. They are generally accepted. The conduct of the authorities - people with either political or financial interests in this matter is way below what I would expect from tihs Country. I would therefore fully support the idea of a Panorama investigation.

Driver
I just wonder if the portable video camera speed gun work principles exactly the same as the laser beam. Otherwise, how does it get the speed read?

Steve Callaghan
Dear All, I would have thought it obvious when I said I had 4 of these devices in use I may have something to do with Speed Enforcement. Perhaps you thought I worked for NASA, Ho Ho. I found the program interesting but flawed in it's method. Please ask Dr Clarke to provide accuracy results when the device is used as recommended. To use it i nthe way he did, at short range and on a track that allowed deliberate targeting of the side of a vehicle is in stark contrast to how this device is used. I receive many letters from those accused of speeding containing words similar to "I couldn't have been travelling that fast", "My vehicle doesn't go that fast", "My vehicle was being driven under the control of a Cruise Control" etc....... All very plausible of course but when I have alternative methods of measurement available, such as lane markers or roadside furniture, to compare the laser speed to it is quite remarkable how may people are mistaken about their speed or capabilities of their vehicle! Yes you have guessed it, the time/distance measurement taken just before and just after the offence corroborates the laser reading on every offence I have used it upon. Perhaps I should recommend the accused get their vehicle checked out by an approved test centre next time I get a cruise control excuse disproved by this method, then I can arrange a ticket to be issued for a construction and use offence as well. No, I am not convinced of any problem with these devices and the willingness to offer easily detected untruths by those accused doesn't help the case of Dr Clarke and the BBC in trying to highlight a problem that the practitioners have yet to see come to light. Perhaps I should arange for a video recording to be made of the operators so I can ensure they don't operate the devices like they were on the InsideOut program!

Stephen Howden
I drive at the speed limit as much as I can. I drive for a living and would loose my job if I lost my licence. What annoys me is when there are no speed limit signs at cameras. How are you suppose to travel at the correct speed when there are no reminders. The other thing is whe white sign with the black line, depending on the type of road this could mean 60 or 70, you could be travelling at 70 by mistake

john
Mr Engineer - 'well conducted experinment?' Tell me how your logical and incisive mind can derive that information from the aired programme?

An Engineer
The most worrying part of the programme was the ex-Police officer, stating that "funny" readings had been seen, and there was no explanation. Yet these guns continued in use without an explanation being found? The programme seemed reasonably sound to me. It was a follow up to a previous programme where the presenter obtained a reading of 58mph from a wall. The TeleTraffic response, also shown on that programme, was quite clear. They stated the effect could not be replicated on a moving target. They made NO mention of this being a UK v US issue. That "excuse" only seems to have appeared now the effect has been demonstrated on a moving vehicle. Monday's programme demonstrated that the effect can occur by menas of a simple, well conducted experiment. I can think of a number of ways in which slip can occur in real situations. For example, if the device is operated misaligned Devices ARE operated misaligned. The previous programme showed real footage of such an instance. Would Meredydd Hughes care to comment on that footage with respect to the ACPO guidelines?

Nigel
Is this the same Meredydd Hughes who when questioned about police driver training standards (ITV prog) didn't know the difference between guidelines and rules. I've lost all faith in the police due to their crazed obsession with speed enforcement. speeding causes less than 5% of accidents - what are they doing about the other 95%

Enrico Vanni
With respect to Paul, to suggest that "only people who have handled and used these bits of kit are worth listening to" is like suggesting that a pilot's opinion should overrule a design engineer's in deciding if an aircraft is safe to fly simply because the pilot has not experienced any problems so far. Also, 4 cases out of 5 dropped means 4 wrongly accused people not having to pay fines, take points or face bans which sounds like 80% success to me. Also, it was very much a point of the Inside Our program that cases ARE being dropped rather than the evidence being analysed in court because of the risk that the flaws in LTI 20-20 will be exposed and the flood gates opened. If CPS/partnerships/Home Office have nothing to hide then they had nothing to fear from these cases being brought.

Ian
In response to Paul's comment, err 4 cases "dropped", meaning the unfortunate drivers did *not* get points and a fine. I'd call that a result!

Stewart Sinclair
To those that say tht the Home Office have rigorously tested the device, and that's just fine and dandy. Well it's not; if their political masters told them to tell us that black was white, they would. The reasons for the war in Iraq being just a grotesque example of this.

Andrew Taylor
In response to Paul below, Why have the four cases been dropped? Surely if the evidence was there a prosecution would have been succesful. The cases are dropped rather than being contested to avoid the truth being revealed when a case is lost!

Ian Hopley
I think that might be a bit unfair Paul, "Only people who have handled and used one of these bits of kit are worth listening to...... " What makes you say that? I know lots of secretaries who use photocopiers every day but that doesn't necessarily mean they know anything about how they work!

Bill
The issue is crystal clear. The machine isn't up to the job. This isn't the first time the machine has been in the dock and lost. Nor is it the first time a new piece of technology isn't all that it's cracked up to be. The police need to regain the respect they used to be held in. They should stop using these machines now. They have plenty of others they can use and they dont come with the lti 2020 baggage. The lord chancellor no less, should consider repaying all of the fines ever handed out by these machines. Yes there is a cost, but the loss of respect for a judicial system shot to pieces by the whole speed camera fiasco also carries a huge cost. A far larger cost than any amount of money. Those that put up the cry "" slow down"" need to understand , we are already going so slowly and this machine is reading the wrong numbers. More importantly slowing down isnt helping, look at the numbers before speed cameras. 7.5 percent died due to excess speed. Post speed cameras,30 percent moving onto 75 percent in some outragous claims by some partnerships die due to speed. Of course this is not cameras killing that number of people, but it's the camera operators and all those others that encourage such misleading exagerations.. Some sense plse, stop using them, cancell all past fines.. Perhaps making the manufacturer and importer pay for the huge cost for supplying equipment not fit for purpose Let's move on.. rgds bill

John
Anyone who wants to know why the Home Office refused to partcipate in the programme only has to take a critical look at the programme. It mixed up different specifications of equipment, different operating techniques, no attention was paid to calibration or any other such issues. The BBC team may be OK when talking to the camera, but they are not technically competent to investigate an issue like this. If there is a question regarding the equipment a television programme made on behalf of the anti safetycamera lobby is not the place to do it. The evidence of their planning and involvement is on their websites for all to see. Dr Clark may have intials after his name and a 'nice' suit, but this fails to convince. His intellect is focused on promoting his views and interests rather than objective investigation - this has never been the mark of a good scientist / engineer - initials or otherwise. To clarify the statement at the end of the programme you can pay a fixed penalty conditional offer if you do not wish to contest the case. If you do wish to contest the case then there is a risk if you are found guilty that you will have costs awarded against you in addition to any fines imposed. The money does not get returned to a safety camera partnership / police force under these circumstances. It is quite clear that the programme is part of well orchestrated initiative by certain organisations - who to give credit - have been very cunning in their approach to use of data and the media. I will watch with interest how their campaign continues, but I do hope that the BBC become a little more objective rather the sensationalist.

David
Can I ask "Paul" why 4 of Mr. Clarks cases were dropped? Would they have been "dropped" if the client had accepted the "conditional offer" and taken the fine? And if not, then how many times is this happening every day?

Paul
In response to Enrico Vanni (or is it Mr Clark?). If Mr Clark is so clever, how come he has not managed to win any cases for the people he has represented as an 'Expert'? Out of the 5 cases he has acted for, 4 have been dropped and the other was proven against his client. I agree with Harry below. Only people who have handled and used one of these bits of kit are worth listening to...... The rest of you - grow up!

Jason
I like the idea of the BBC doing some further investigation a la Panarama. I actually agree with Soren in that the devices are probably accurate in most cases but thats not good enough to allow them to be used in the way they are and submitted as absolute truth in court. The other key point is that the whole Speed Kills argument is absolute rubbish - poor inattentive driving kills. It is not the same thing! Obviously driving at 150 mph is more dangerous than driving at 5mph but neither is as dangerous as driving at 70mph with a cigerette in one hand and adjusting your radio with the other - don't worry though, you wont get any points for doing this.

Enrico Vanni
In response to Harry below... Dr Michael Clark has a PhD in the field of Lasers and Electronics. His thesis was entitled "The Avalanche Photodiode at High Frequencies". (Incidentally the Avalanche Photodiode is used in the LTI 20.20). Dr. Clark's first degree is in Electronic and Electrical Engineering. He is a Chartered Engineer, Fellow of the Institution of Electrical Engineers and Fellow of The Institution of Highways and Transportation. He represents the UK as the Expert on the European Standards Committee for Vehicle Detectors and was elected Chairman of that committee. Dr. Clark has a number of patents in his name. His detectors are used on roads all over the place - he was very much involved with the Trafficmaster system (which is used to monitor traffic flow). How does this level of expertise compare with the Managing Director of TeleTraffic, or Mr Callaghan of the Cumbria Safety Camera Partnership, or Mr Hewitt of the Hampshire Camera Partnership (who all earn their living directly or indirectly through the sale or use of these devices) I wonder? Perhaps these people would care to list the basis for their 'authority'?

David Leigh
These devices were originally designed solely to measure static distance, for which purpose they are admirably suited. Moving the device during the measurement period inevitably renders any reading inaccurate to some degree.

Jon
The police seem to be putting all their eggs in one basket with these devices - what if an alleged speeder asks for the calibration record of the gun, the training record of the officer using the device, his conviction record using the device, how the device was mounted at the time...? I can think of no other area of the law where the accused is permitted so little rebuttal. The comment at the end of the feature about the police taking a dim view of using the evidence of the feature strikes me strikes me as scare tactics.(I should point out that I have held a clean licence for over 25 years, and haven't had so much as a parking ticket in all that time)

Paul Lynch
If the government, the speed camera companies are refuting the evidence given....why dont they publish evidence of their own to back up their 'extensive testing'? Or would that be shot to pieces.. are we supposed to just 'trust' them. If their evidence is so good why are they losing/dropping court cases against them!

James Brown
As an electronics engineer working in the motor industry, I can see that this gun is inherently inaccurate as it measures distance only and calculates speed from a number of readings. An accurate reading can therefore only be obtained provided that the gun tracks the same point, or an equidistant area, on the vehicle while the reading is being taken. At the range that these devices are used, this is virtually impossible to do. In addition, there have been frequent cases where the laser beam is not aligned with the video picture, resulting in the speed recorded and the video image being from different vehicles. Even the police have little confidence in the results: they are normally very reluctant to disclose the full video which defendants are entitled to. Cases have even been dropped rather than the police admitting that the device has not been operated reliably. In short, the device is a precision instrument that will only give a reliable reading under very controlled circumstances which cannot be guaranteed in the field. As such, it cannot provide proof of speed beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Ian Hopley
I can see both sides of the argument but for heaven's sake! It should be simple enough to put this to bed once and for all! Surely the Home Office could supply some "British" specification equipment and some trained officers to use it and the tests can be repeated! Unless, of course, they DO have something to hide! I'm afraid that just telling us it's been "thoroughly and rigourously tested" really doesn't cut it with me. The government's track record on these definitive statements (remember the BSE crisis?, the "Weapons of Mass Destruction"... ) really isn't that good.

Søren
Having operated speed detector devices for years as a traffic police officer, I believe they probably read correctly in the significant majority of cases, generally because, in my experience, the speed recorded matches my original opinion of speed. I would however struggle to tell the specific speed of a vehicle to within 5%, so I cannot categorically state that there is no error in the reading. My primary concern, which is shared by a lot of traffic officers is that the strong link between automatic speed enforcement techniques and the profit and loss account is driving a coach and horses through the previous equilibrium of policing enforcement and education techniques which were generally held in high esteem. The public are being fed propaganda suggesting that 'Speed Kills' is the only road safety message, whereas the issues in reality are a deal more complex, involving driver responsibility, and concentration. Overzealous enforcement is dumbing down these important motoring qualities, and the motorist is paying the price with a poorer than expected fatality rate, and 10 times the previous numbers of speeding fines.

Ernest Marsh
This programe overlooked a further issue. How many fatalities have been reduced, in proportion to the increase in camera numbers? The dodgy reliance on flawed technology is just the tip of the iceberg. The whole issue of reliance on robot policing is a sham, which is costing lives.

Max D
Steve Callaghan too should clarify his position as the manager of the Cumbria Safety Camera Partnership. He should also provide us with the exact detail of the testing conditions and parameters he employed when he "verified" (apologies for the inverted commas!) the accuracy of the LTi 20/20 for himself. In your programme, Professor John Brignall explained the scope for generating erroneous readings quite succinctly. The minutest movement of the device can lead to significant slip on a target at a distance of 500 meters. Even if the laser gun is mounted on a tripod inside a van, the buffeting caused by a passing lorry's slipstream or just the general vibration from adjacent traffic could easily lead to error. One should also remember that the bulk of the evidence used for speeding allegations is now generated by civilian-staffed "partnerships" on behalf of the Police, not by the Police themselves. The speed measurement devices are no longer being used to corroborate a Policeman's prior opinion of speeding, merely to administer as many fixed penalty notices as possible. We can no longer rely upon the professional competence and discretion of an experienced Traffic Officer in such matters. The final word, which threatens far more severe consequences for anyone who pleads not guilty to a speeding charge on the basis of this programme and then subsequently loses their case, is nothing short of rank intimidation. It clearly indicates that the authorities are conscious that they may have inadvertently engineered a scandal of potentially monumental proportions. Now fearful of an overwhelming backlash of public outrage, they will try anything to head it off.

Harry
How many of you people broke the law on the way home from work (if you work) today? Well, if you did you got off lightly. Tomorrow you may not be so lucky. I'm not talking about being caught by a speeding device - I'm referring to having a crash and hurting somebody else's family member. You can all go on about how hard done to you feel and give excuses about equipment being inaccurate, but you are all eluding yourselves. You wouldn't be doing all this gassing off if you weren't law breakers. Don't give us the stuff about innocent drivers being done for speeding. You all know whether you speed or not, and you can't lie to yourselves. Don't bleat on about faulty equipment that you don't understand. The knowledgeable people who have posted on here have at least used the device and are familiar with it. I bet none of the rest of you have ever even seen one. You are clutching at straws to justify to yourselves that speeding is ok. Well one day you'll get a shock and fate will catch up with you. Dont speed and don't gob off unless you know what you are talking about. That goes for the 'Expert' Michael Clark and the BBC.

Roberto
Responding to Steve Callaghan's points. 1. Why then has the LTI 20-20 (or Geico Gun) been banned in some US states? 2. Why was the same machine been denied certification in Germany? Actually, the answer to point 2. is that Erlangen University (Germany's certification body for this type of kit) found that, by using 3 beams, the spread of the LTI 20-20's beams at a distance of 600 metres was 8 metres, that is 3 lanes of motorway plus the hard shoulder. On this basis alone, target acquisition was deemed impossible. Furthermore, the "slipping" error raised is a red herring ... why? ... because the red dot that appears in the sights of the LTI 20-20 is totally independent of the 3 targeting beams. This leads the user into the mistaken belief that he/she is targeting a single vehicle. On any type of curve, and most of these machines are used on curves to the aid sight lines of the user, the beams can be striking several vehicles. There is a whole catalogue of shortcomings with this machine ... refer back to point 1. above!

Miss Norma Smith
I was done for speeding last year June. I was told that I was driving 47 miles per hour. I really do not think that I was going that fast. When I went to produce at the police station I was talking to another lady who told me that she was caught for speeding doing 47 miles per hour. I thought what a coincidence as I was doing the same as well. I was going to appeal but there was no way that I could prove that I was doing less than 47 miles per hour.

Jozef Frydrych
If the cameras were as accurate as the home office, or the supplier suggests then why are they not confident enough to allow the UK cameras to be tested?. Also when a copy of the video is requested why do the CPS go to extrodinary lenghths to prevent you seeing the full version? The home office and the police always quote the ACPO guidlines, but when these same guidelines are quoted to the partnership or the police their answer is "They are only guildlines" The whole system stinks as the police the partnership and the magistares courts are all working together hand in hand, so it is impossible to get a fair trial. The sooner these partnerships are made accountable the better, because at the moment there seems to be no one body that checks that these camera partnerships are run properly and abide by the law. Regards Joe

Paul
It is ironic that people are questioning the motives of Dr. Clark, a true expert in his field, with qualifications and patents to his name. Why is nobody asking questions of the "expert witness" used by the CPS/Police? An ex-police officer, direct financial interest (Managing Director and owner of the supplying company of the device in question) and absolutely NO Engineering qualifications whatsoever! I think it is time for a "Panorama special" to look into this matter.

Pete
This debate reminds me of when Doppler radar speed guns were first introduced - one defendant demonstrated one in court and showed that the magistrate's bench was moving and his case was thrown out. At least fixed Gatso cameras have a secondary means of corroborating the speed - the paint marks on the road which will show up in both photos. Relying on a single speed gun with no secondary contextual evidence is clearly a nonsense.

John
It interesting to note that the contributors to the programme also have a vested interest in stirring as much confusion as possible on the subject as posible and they have effectively hoodwinked the BBC in to free advertising. So they have used a variety of equipment using a variety of techniques, none of which are actually applicable to the speed enforcement in this country. I know I am repeating myself, but if there is real data give it to the licencing authority - the home office.

Richard
Find someone impartial and lets paint a true picture. Dear Gerald - talking about impartiality, can you tell me who the CPS use as their expert witness in cases concerning the LTI 20-20? Yes, the MD of the imnporter of the equipment. No technical qualifications and impartial? I think not. The whole system stinks.

Richard
I have been falsely accused of speeding. The evidence is there for all to see but the Police, the CPS and the Magistrates just ignore it. I am just being railroaded into submission, bullied, lied to and lied about. Speed cameras were a good idea, but they have been ruined by greed. More people losing their lives on the road, more twisting of the facts by the camera partnerships, less respect for the real Police and every year, more an more money being made off the backs of the hard working public. We are being scammed, persecuted and left to fend for ourselves by a greedy Governemnt. The Police are less in numbers on the road, so tailgating, thuggery on the road, and other dangerous driving, is being ignored when the casual speeder is being prosecuted in their thousands. Its almost a case of 'Lets get the easy targets as we can make money on them and then ignore the real danger.'

Mike Papo
The problem of slip lies not in the speed gun itself, nor it's built-in firmware, but in the fundamental physics upon which it is based. The beam can only measure the speed of the target relative to the speed gun. Even if the speed gun is tripod mounted to eliminate the highly-amplified hand wobble you demonstrated so well, were the beam to strike a sloping or curved part of the vehicle, such as found in radiator grilles and the body panels of most vehicles, that will also introduce an error.

Bert Postlethwaite
Gerald Swithilington, "If you don't want to get caught dont speed!" The point is, of course, that you have totally missed the point. Not speeding doesn't help you because the gun isn't accurate. In any case, how prosecuting people, who have not been speeding, for speeding helps road safety escapes me. Are you really a "a senior ex police officer with many years of road policing experience"? I doubt it. If so,I despair.

Robert Reid
It is interesting that Julian Hewitt did not declare his interest. He is paid to 'spin' for Hampshire so called Safety Camera Partnership. He calls Dr. Clark a 'self-appointed' expert. He may well be self-appointed, but that he is an expert, there is no doubt. Unlike Mr. Hewitt, whose only expertise is 'spinning'.

David
The "authorities" didn't want to take part in the programme because to do so would expose the fact that the so-called Safety Camera Partnerships are getting millions of pounds out of motorists, using questionable technology and flawed legal processes. If we had speed limits in this country which reflected modern car capabilities, instead of silly outmoded ones set up in the 1950s for Morris Minors which could barely reach 70mph and needed a runway to stop, then drivers might have more respect for the limits. The whole system of fixed penalty notices is based on the fact that 99% of people just pay up when they get a ticket - if more people took them on through the Courts (and this BBC film will cast doubt on any mobile speed camera fine) - the whole system would grind to a halt and the police would have to spend their time catching real criminals.

Tony, Maida Vale
CASH INCENTIVE ! You ended the BBC Speedgun feature saying that the police threatened a much larger penalty on anyone using the program as a defence in court. How? Why? How can this be justified? Is it just an idle threat? We drivers live in fear and dread nowadays, of the techno, money-making, monster that waits round ever bend. Its not the saving of lives it seeks. The accuracy of the machine? No! Its the CASH!!!

Steve Callaghan
I manage an operation that has 4 of these devices. I have also been involved in much discussion with the folk who provided the "evidence" (apologies for the inverted commas!) for this program. It was recently posted on an anti-camera website that to produce the so called slip effect the operator had to: 1. pull the trigger while sweeping the gun sideways 2. tilt the gun at an angle 3. set the speed threshold to 0mph 4. practice repeatedly to perfect exactly the right sweep rate to get the effect to work 5. close one eye and stand on one leg OK 5. wasn't true but it illustrates just how far away from a realistic and correct operation they had to go before producing this effect. I have repeatedly tried to reproduce the effect talked of in this program and by the contributors and have yet to see one instance of this effect on any of the devices in my employ. NOT ONCE have I seen it. When I first heard of the effect back in Feb, in the earlier program by Inside Out, I tested all 4 of my devices for speed accuracy against an alternative method of speed measurement, that being an average speed calculated by using time and distance. All results showed calculated and measured speeds to be within 1mph. I am now in my 30th year as an engineer of telecommunications, radio, radar and electronics and am more than able to conduct testing of these instruments as well as being a qualified operator of them. I have yet to find any anomalies that would call into doubt the acceptance of the readings produced by them to use in proving a vehicle has exceeded the speed limit and hence will continue to use them as such. Should I experience any such anomaly or receive evidence that calls the devices into doubt I would immediately refrain from using them, so far I have seen NONE that would cause me to do so. Cheers SteveC

Mr Raymond Selley
Perhaps the BBC could look more into the fact that the Police have said at the end of your report tonight, if anyone was to try to use your programme against them, they are obviously forcing people not to say anything against their possibalty of incorrect prosicution against them on the findings of your report. Or is this were the police are acting as a police state, as people have suggested time and again.

Tom S
Like a majority of people, I totally agree with the use of speed cameras (which I believe should be hidden as they once were) & diligently comply with speed limits. I look out for speed limits, not cameras. I have never been caught speeding & never had any penalty points. However this report is very worrying, as it indicates that law-compliant drivers could be caught by just the slightest misuse of a hand held speed gun. If nothing else, movement will always be caused by the draught from passing traffic. The assurances from Gerald Swithilington & your other respondents that the equipment is perfect and Police officers do not shake, do nothing to allay my anxiety. The programme had sufficient substance (not least of which was the evidence of experienced police officers)to bring the use of hand held laser guns into question. I am certainly not a motoring lobby speeder who is seeking to get off, I merely want justice for all – which demands that the the equipment and method of operation is absolutely faultless. The dumb ACPO response - that those who use the evidence in your programme in their defence will just get fined more - is itself worrying. Beeb, please keep the public aware of this matter, until resolved and explained – balance is scepticism.

Jason
Interesting comment from the "Senior Ex-Policeman", Gerald Swithilington. Perhaps he could answer the obvious question of why the US does not us the same "accurate" version of the device that the UK do? This would seem particularly important in light of the fact that the LTi 20-20 is BANNED from use in a number of American States due to the "shake effect" raising questions over reliability. You are right about one thing Gerald - this is not a game. Innocent people are being convicted! By the way, the two Personal Computers cited in your example would always give the same results so not such a great example - or maybe it is! Perhaps you can elaborate of what the differences between the two devices actually are?

Roberto
Certainly the LTI 20-20 does not work ... forget accuracy ... lots of evidence for this. For example ... Paul Delastie's response below ... his speed 101 miles per hour (imperial) is not consistent with a measurement distance of 311 metres (metric) ... I suspect, like myself some years ago, the speed is actually 101 kilometres per hour or 63 miles per hour ... but as stated above ... if the offending machine was an LTI 20-20 the reading would be "tosh" anyway.

John
Dear Darren - if there is any technical depth to the investigation - the evidence should be submitted for assessment. If Dr Clerk submitted his data that would be quite proper. Could it be that his income would be slashed if it is properly investigated? It is in his interests to keep being called as an expert witness remember? The programme I previously saw on this topic I thought was very partisan manner. Personally I object to the free advertising Dr Clerk is getting from my licemce fee.

Darren
Dear Gerald Swithilington, If what you say is true, why didnt the Police, Teletraffic and the Home Office want to take part in the programme and defend themselves? Simple.....

Ben
Are there any greater accurancy issues when it comes to motorbikes given distance, steadiness of the camera operator and being able to train on the smaller object?

Julian Hewitt
The camera has been rigorously tested by the home office as part of the type approval process. This applies to all similar equipment such as breathalysers. If exhaustive testing has already been done and the equipment has been found to be accurate there is no reason to give it to any self appointed expert with an axe to grind to test again. A good journalist will always be able to find some one from the modern day equivalent of the flat earth society to oppose the majority view but the BBC should have the integrity to present a balanced picture based on the facts rather than take the tabloid route of not letting the facts get in the way of a good story.

John
This is weak reporting and bears no real scrutiny. The previous programme was flawed on the subject as it did not use the same equipment, or reflect the way it is used by the Police. Conclusion - a piece of equipement which is not used in the UK, nor operated in a manner shown on the programme might have a problem, and the relevance of that to the British Motoring Public is? Motorists who are lead to believe they have a chance of getting off speeding fines, can then end up in court with a very real posibility of facing much larger costs when the prosecution fails. Presumably Dr Clark would waive his fees when this happens? Perhaps he should submit a properly investigated scientific paper to the Home Office for their comments, rather than touting for business via the BBC.

Gerald Swithilington
I am a senior ex police officer with many years of road policing experience. I was an enforcement technology instructor and was involved in Type Approval testing. Lets go back to basics...... This is not a game drivers are playing. It is real life - with the lives of road users being taken by other irresponsible road users. The message is simple - If you don't want to get caught dont speed!! I know Michael Clark of old. He is on a mission, as most of these people are, to make himself a name. What you need to remember is that any speed detection device which is type approved in the UK is rigorously tested and the parameters within which a manufacturuer must act are very very tight in this country. That is why US devices (although they may look the same) are not suitable for use in the UK and would not pass the tests. The software used is entirely different and specifically designed for the strict and rigorous UK type-approved market. Comparing US equipment with UK equipment is like comparing a two identical personal computer towers, one containing a P150mb processor and 8mb of RAM to one with a 3 gig processor and 1000 mb of RAM. They look the same but work entirely differently. Michael knows this, this is why he uses foreign equipment to evidence his own beliefs. Lets be right - the UK equipment is easy enough to obtain. The News of The World have managed to get hold of it!! The authorities will not play ball with him because he is just not well enough qualified and is entirely subjective. The BBC is supposed to be a responsible broadcasting oracle in this country. Don't rubbish yourselves by giving support to flawed arguements, broadcasting half truths and making the evidence fit the programme. You should promote speed awareness and road safety. You, Michael and people like Mark Cox all have an axe to grind. Find someone impartial and lets paint a true picture.

Fred D
I suggest you use the new Freedom of Information Regulations and request information from the Home Office etc

sid
no i dont think so....

George
As one who is awaiting a summons to court for allegedly touching 104mph, I can say that not only was I sure I was at 95mph, I also believe that the only way to avoid this issue is to have more dreaded but sturdy permanent roadside cameras installed. They don't bend to human error. When meting out justice it's crucial human error is not allowed to enter the process. It is enough that we have to be judged by Magistrates who may or may not interpret the facts correctly. Testing a camera may prove something or remain inconclusive like tests on radiation emmission from mobile phones. Let's get the cops back on duties like combating terrorism and dealing with real crimes like dangerous driving.

Martin
As a "Northern expat" driving from London to see my folks in Lincolnshire. West of the M180 Trent Bridge near Scunthorpe there is a strategically hidden mobile laser speed camera behind a sweeping left hand curve. There has been a number of reports that many motorists driving within the limit have been prosecuted for speeding, the caught motorists say there must have been a mistake, especially locals who know of its presence. One local driver challenged the prosecution around 2003/2004 and charges were mysteriously dropped. There was NO apology from the Humberside Speed Camera Partnership or any explanation why an error occurred. The driver had to write in to the local paper get his view aired. Humberside speed camera partnership said the speed gun was "error free" but more worryingly they said no review into previous convictions of other drivers will take place nor the site changed, thus giving a risk of further unsafe prosecutions. The driver understood this ‘slip effect’, which occurs when a laser beam moves sideways....or what the BBC article did not mention, if the car is moving along a curve, relatively speaking its the same effect. The moment it is fired at a target car on a bend, the laser is effectively running out of its performance envelope, interpreting the curve movement of the vehicle of the beam as a speed. The driver also pointed out that he was being overtaken by a faster car. The distance of the laser gun site to target area is greater tham 300m, the driver argued successfully, that the "cone" of dispersed light was at least 1.5 meters at 300m, much more at longer distances. The amount of camera-shake would further accentuate the inaccuracy. The photo allegedly showed another car behind and in the overtaking lane. I recall that this driver wanted an explanation from the Home Office and DfT, but none was given. I slow down to 45 - 50 mph on this M-way to make sure that there sufficent leeway for any laser safety camera error, though my actions have caused horns and flashing lights from other motorists. Its safe from getting a speeding ticket, but not keeping in the spirit of safe driving.

alex
Hello, I'm writing from Poland; I've just read with great interest your article. I must say that the same problem concerns Polish drivers. Polish police also refuse to accept the fact that their speed guns may be sometimes wrong

Rogan Muldoon
It would be interesting to hear why it is that the Home Office does not want to prove the accuracy of their devices and thus demonstrate how legally appropriate the fines they levy are.

Paul Delastie
I was stopped for speeding some 2 months ago and still awiating a summons to appear in court, I was caught by an officer using a hand held laser device he showed me the reading of 101 mph at a distance of 311 meters travelling away from him, this was on a dual carriage way so there was other vechiles in his line of vision how would this effect his results?

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