Frequently asked questions
We’re sure you’ll have some questions and if yours isn’t answered here, please contact us.
What is an average speed camera system?
An Average Speed Camera System works out the average speed of vehicles over a certain distance. It uses Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) to capture when a vehicle enters and leaves a defined stretch of road, and works out its average speed. Very conspicuous signs are used to warn drivers that they are entering and travelling through an average speed zone.
What is the purpose of average speed camera systems?
Average Speed Camera Systems are used to improve road safety. They encourage road users to stick to the defined speed limits, and are used alongside other measures like road improvements and education to reduce casualties.
When was the average speed camera system installed on the A77?
It was introduced on the A77 in July 2005, following recommendations by the A77 Safety Group. This was formed in 2003 and included representatives from Transport Scotland, Strathclyde Police, South Ayrshire Council, West Sound Radio, Strathclyde Safety Camera Partnership and Amey. They worked together to encourage a positive change in the driving culture on the A77.
What distance does it cover?
The current system covers 37 miles of the route from Symington to Girvan. This is a mix of single and dual carriageway roads, through both rural and built-up areas.
How successful has it been?
Best practice dictates that road safety schemes are evaluated based on a comparison with three years data before the scheme was introduced to three years after it was completed. This ensures that there is consistency of approach and that short term variations do not influence the overall evaluation of the impact. With the A77 scheme now running for over 10 years there is a considerable amount of data available and the latest figures covering the last three years to July 2015 indicate that there has been a 77% reduction in fatal casualties and a 74% reduction in serious casualties compared with the original baseline published in 2005.
Casualty figures have dropped across the country in the past 10 years in areas without cameras – what is the difference on the A77?
While it’s true that the number of people killed or seriously injured nationally has dropped by 37%, the A77 was not following this trend. In fact, during the same period casualties were increasing and that was one of the main reasons for the formation of the A77 Safety Group.
If it is so successful, why are you changing it?
Like any other equipment, the average speed camera system had an optimum design life which is now close to being exceeded. When equipment reaches this stage, it becomes much more expensive to maintain. This type of technology was fairly new in 2005, but unsurprisingly, there has been significant development in the technology of these systems. New ones are much more cost-effective and reliable.
Which type of average speed camera system are you introducing?
The Vysionics VECTOR system will be installed on the A77 and is a development of SPECS3 which is currently in use on the A9. The main visual difference is that the VECTOR system can monitor two lanes of traffic from a single camera, instead of one for each lane. In addition, all columns and camera heads will be painted bright yellow to make them much more visible to all road users. VECTOR has full Home Office Type Approval which is a requirement for any remote speed enforcement system in use in the UK.
What are the main differences between this system and the current one?
The current system uses hard-wired links. VECTOR uses wireless technology to send data more quickly and effectively. It allows for real-time monitoring of the route and increases operational flexibility.
Will the system detect all types of vehicle?
Yes. The system is flexible enough to detect and enforce speeds for all types of vehicles.
Can it spot vehicles which switch lanes on dual carriageway sections to avoid detection?
The system monitors all lanes, so switching lanes will make no difference to its effectiveness.
Will it work in darkness?
SPECS Vector works 24/7 in all weathers and uses infrared cameras when it’s dark. This ‘invisible’ light means the roads don’t need lighting for the cameras to be effective and it is a safer way to operate the system.
Will there be any increase in camera sites?
No, the number of cameras is actually being reduced from 27 to 23. VECTOR technology is highly efficient and the opportunity is also being taken to change the sites of some of the cameras. This re-positioning is based on both experience and feedback from communities along the route.
Who will operate the system?
The system will be managed by the West Area Safety Camera Unit, who are part of Police Scotland.
How long will the upgrade take?
Work on upgrading the system began during winter 2016 and is due to be completed by late spring 2016.
Will the system still operate during the upgrade work?
Yes. There may be some interruptions to availability while new equipment is being installed. However, drivers should obey the speed limits as normal.
Why are you not increasing the HGV speed limit as you did on the A9?
The A77 is a very different road to the A9 and requires its own unique solutions. The A9 has stretches where the different vehicle speed restrictions led to some drivers getting frustrated, and driving poorly as a result.
This trial of increased HGV speeds hopes to minimise this, and it will be evaluated after three years. Similar problems have not been identified on the A77. However the situation will be revisited once the A9 pilot scheme has been evaluated.
In England & Wales the HGV speed limit has been raised universally – why not in Scotland?
Simply raising the speed limit for HGV’s would have a detrimental effect on road safety. The HGV speed limit has been increased on the A9, but this is mitigated by the average speed camera system, and is part of a 3-year pilot. The results will be evaluated fully after this.
The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that the nation’s road network is as successful as it can be, allowing all those who use it to get to their destinations safely and without unnecessary delay.
The Department for Transport will review the results of the changes in England and Wales alongside the results from the A9 pilot. In the meantime, there are no plans to change HGV speeds on other trunk roads in Scotland.