A recent article in Motorcycle News (MCN – 5 August 2009) reported the potential inaccuracies with Gatso speed cameras. It illustrated a reluctance by the police to provide a copy of the photographs because, it was alleged, the photo’s proved that the bike was not speeding.
The photo’s are required in order that a ‘secondary check’ can be made as to the accuracy of the device. The images should show the distance travelled by the vehicle over half a second and this should corroborate the ‘primary check’ produced by the radar.
My experience is that the police do not always carry out secondary checks properly. It is almost impossible to tell precisely the distance travelled as the measurement lines on the road are usually 2 metres apart and the vehicle is usually in between the lines. How far in between the lines is just guesswork. In addition, the photo’s are usually not clear enough.
But there are other important issues to consider. The police do not like to admit that the manufacturer’s instruction manual for the Gatso states that the device can be inaccurate up to 2mph. Police guidelines also state that a prosecution should not go ahead unless the motorist is travelling at over 35pmh. A slight movement of the axis of the Gatso device when loading or unloading film can increase the speed reading. If two or more vehicles are in the measurement field then the check should be disregarded. A calibration sticker should be attached to the device. Can you be sure that the half second was timed correctly?
You should also consider whether it is in your best interests to obtain the photographs at all. If the police fail to disclose the photo’s to you within 7 days of a court hearing then the evidence may be inadmissible!
I also have concerns relating to the training received by the ‘viewing officer’. This is the person who views the images to determine that an offence has been committed. I have recently had a case where the viewing officer accepted that he ‘rounded up’ the distance travelled to the next white line – so that it matched the reading from the radar!