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M42 Speed Camera Van – on road bridge near A41 Solihull Junction 5

Speed Camera SignHere is my latest update on the M42 motorway Advanced Traffic Management and speed control.

I have already posted two articles:
M42 Motorway, Active Traffic Management and Speed Cameras (from when ATM was first introduced)
M42 Motorway Speed Cameras and Registration Plate Cameras Driving near Birmingham (from when they allegedly activated the ATM speed cameras).

This morning I saw a mobile speed camera van. As I drove southbound from Junction 6 (NEC / Birmingham Airport / A45, Coventry) towards Junction 5 (A41 Solihull). The traffic was much lighter, which was perhaps due to a lane closure further up at Junction 8. As the traffic was not so busy the active traffic management hadn’t kicked in and so the motorway was travelling at full national speed limit (70mph). Although the ATM speed cameras aren’t supposed to be active when the national speed limit is in force, most drivers drive on this section within a few mph of the speed limit. Whether this is because drivers don’t know that the Highways agency has said that it doesn’t plan to target when national speed limit is in force, or because people don’t trust them I don’t really know. See my original post for the wording that the Highways agency use for the speed camera triggers.

The camera was in a large transit van on a viaduct near to the A41 junction 5. The van was white with blue battenburg across the bottom and the words Traffic Camera Management (or something similar written on the side). The van was facing West, with it’s left (more distant) sliding door open (no doubt with a speed camera pointing out).

Seeing this mobile speed camera made me wonder why it is situated on the stretch of motorway with the highest number of static cameras. My theories are:

  1. The static cameras don’t really work at all
  2. The mobile camera is trying to catch people that speed up between the overhead gantries
  3. The mobile camera was intentionally placed because the motorway was running at national speed limit

I then thought perhaps I should dismiss the thought that the static cameras don’t work (1). After all the Highways Agency isn’t going to spend ¬£millions on cameras that don’t work, although there have been problems with some of the signs since the start it has been limited to one gantry completely out, and one other sign not working. I don’t really think that this is the case.

So thinking about people speeding up between the cameras (2). This is something that I have seen the police do before on other roads, where they position themselves before or after a speed camera and look for try and catch those that slow down just for the speed camera. From what I’ve seen is that once the speed limit is in force most stay within a few miles per hour of the stated speed limit. Whilst there is some speeding up between gantries, this is only a few miles per hour and unlikely to be a great problem that they need to bring in more speed cameras.

So it leaves the theory that they knew the motorway was running at full speed and were looking to catch those going over 70mph (3). Which I’ve said is not normally the case on the M42 anyway, although may have been more likely if people had been stuck in the jams from the earlier accident and were running late. For it to be number 3 then I would have thought the police would have to have made the decision after knowing about the earlier crash.

In any of these it really seams as though the police were hoping to catch people going just a little over the speed limit. Perhaps hoping that with the number of vehicles that pass on the motorway they were going to catch more people than if they targeted drivers that were driving somewhere where exceeding the speed limit is at a higher risk of causing an accident.

Now I have nothing against speed cameras themselves, but believe that they should be put at places where they can actually make the roads safer, rather than the current scheme of targeting places they are more likely to make money.
I believe that they should put more speed cameras in built up areas, particularly near schools or other places where children are likely to be playing. Cameras placed where drivers may be going 40 in a 30mph zone are more likely to make the road safer than a camera targeting a motorway that is running at about 75 mph.

I also believe that police officers can detect far worse offenses than people going only a little over the speed limit (although people that exceed the speed limits by a large amount are also unnecessarily putting lives at risk). The police should be targeting drivers that drive within inches of the car in front, and those that drive dangerously weaving in and out of cars to try and gain two spaces in the queue of traffic.

Speed Cameras generate revenue, it’s police in cars that can make the roads safer.

2 Responses to “M42 Speed Camera Van – on road bridge near A41 Solihull Junction 5”

  1. suprafan72 Says:


    Just wondered if it was confirmed yet where the camera’s were swtiched on when the signs aren’t illuminated.. And where the camera’s are still gatso’s or now digital, Does anyone know???

  2. Administrator Says:

    The highways agency stated that they are not switched on if the signs are not illuminated. That does not mean they won’t do so in the future, but I don’t believe there are any short term plans to do so.

    The cameras are almost certainly digital. I can’t see anyone climbing those gantries to change the film. They measure speed based on an instantaneous speed measurement (like Gatso), rather than the average speed between cameras. They do not have a flash. I assume that they have a camera capable of capturing a number plate at night, and the entire stretch of the motorway is illuminated which will help.

    There is more information on my first blog entry on the M42:

    The link to the Highways Agency page has now broken, but there is some more information at:
    The different CCTV and speed cameras in use

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