Anyone using the stretch of dual carriageway between Barking and Canning Town over the last year will have spotted the gantries; the signs saying they were under test disappeared pretty quickly though the presence of even non-functional cameras will have given the heavy right-footed pause.
The series of Gatso cameras currently on the A13 will be decommissioned once the new system is live, which will at least remove the hugely irritating habit some drivers have of braking heavily at a Gatso site regardless of whether or not they were obeying the speed limit up to that point. For anyone who usually has more interesting things to think about, SPECS works by using automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) technology to identify a specific vehicle, measure the time it takes to travel between two points and calculate its speed. Think you can avoid being caught by changing lanes? You can’t – SPECS are not lane-specific.
The current 40mph limit in the area will be raised to 50mph, though in rush hour you’d be hard pushed to achieve anything other than crawling pace – the A13 is notoriously congested. TfL’s claim that the new SPECS cameras may prevent collisions also provokes some scrutiny: anyone familiar with the A13 can tell you that collisions in the worst areas are often caused by drivers changing lanes without looking properly, so the implication that accidents are primarily caused by vehicles exceeding the speed limit is somewhat disingenuous. The new cameras should rightly deter drivers from breaking the speed limit but TfL’s press release appears to endow them with properties they don’t really have. Speed cameras can act as a deterrent and punish law-breakers after the fact, but what they can’t do is prevent accidents.
It appears that the A13 is the first major urban road in the UK to get average speed cameras so don’t be surprised if TfL start popping them in on other major London roads.