S P E C S Camera’s

S P E C S Camera’s

In case that you don’t know S.P.E.C.S is an abbreviation for ‘Speed Enforcement Camera System’ and are used to monitor the average speed of vehicles travelling on dual carriage ways and motorways in the UK and are often set up when there are long term road works in place and a temporary lower speed limit is in force, you may have seen them, they are normally on a high yellow gantry and have two cameras pointing at the road, they can monitor up to four lanes of traffic at once and have infra red illuminators so that they can work at night as well as in the day, they are spaced evenly throughout the site that they are placed in and are linked to a central computer and a group of cameras will cover any length of road that they are set up in.
Some driver’s think that they work like a GATSO camera and take a photograph if triggered by travelling past them too fast, so drivers slow down on the approach and then speed up again when they have past them, in fact it is this kind of driver that they are designed to catch as the S.P.E.C.S. will record your license plate with a digital time stamp as you pass by, it uses ANPR (automatic number plate recognition), and will do the same again when you pass by the next set, the computer will then work out your speed by measuring how long it has taken you to cover the distance between the cameras points and if you have been travelling too fast you will receive a PCN in the post.
As you can see it is pointless slowing down at the camera and then speeding up again as this will have no effect and you won’t even know if you have been caught breaking the speed limit as the camera does not flash, so you could be fined and gain penalty points on your driving license or face a ban quite easily and not know anything about it until the PCN lands on your doormat, so it is always best practice to observe the speed limit and if you have one fitted use your cruise control to help you to maintain a constant speed, in the case of an HGV driver your tachograph will also be used as evidence if you were to be prosecuted.
If you are observant you will notice that the cameras are positioned on each entry and exit point on the road and that they are spaced at regular points along the carriage way so it is impossible to avoid them, you will always pass by two camera sites from where ever you have joined the road and before you leave, so the best practice is to pay attention and observe the speed limit at all times as nobody wants points on their license or a fine to pay.

Digital Tachographs

Digital Tachographs

In 2006 digital tachographs were introduced making it easy for operators to keep track of their drivers, drivers hours, records and to identify drivers hours infringements, it is also harder for drivers to falsify records as each driver has to apply to the license authority (DVLA) for a digital driver card, this has a photo of the driver and other info on it rather like the photo card driving license and a smart chip that records all vehicle details and driver movements for up to 28 days, the card is inserted into a tachograph unit in the vehicle before driving begins and the driver enters some simple information about what he has been doing since his card was last removed, all information about the vehicle, its movements and driver activity is then stored on the cards microchip although the driver still has to manually change the mode switch except for driving, if the driver has switched to a rest period mode the tachograph will automatically go to drive mode when driving resumes and then it will change to other work mode automatically when the vehicle is stopped, the driver will have to manually change to rest periods and periods of availability, at the end of the drivers duty period the card is removed and kept by the driver at all times,  the information on the card  can then be downloaded in to a computer and analyzed for driving hours infringements instantly, eliminating the need for the tachographs to be sent away for analysis, all information is stored electronically saving storage space and paper. Although it is not required to be downloaded daily this can be done as the relevant info will stay with the driver on the smart chip after the download so the driver has with him at all times his last 28 days movements as required by law and also the employer can see all relevant information every time the card is downloaded into their computer system. The digital tachograph unit has a roll of paper inserted rather like a till roll so the driver or anyone wanting information can do a print out if required, the driver will have to do a print out  should his card be lost, stolen or malfunctions. If the card malfunctions it has to be sent back to the DVLA and the driver must apply for a new one but can carry on working for up to 15 days without one but he has to keep manual records by doing a print out at the start and end of shift and filling in all relevant information on the print out, these must be handed in within the relevant time scale, malfunctioning cards are replaced free of charge, if your card is lost or stolen then the replacement is charged for.

Analogue Tachgraphs

Analogue Tachgraphs

The analogue tachograph in commercial vehicles has been around since the late 1970’s and became mandatory in the EU since the middle eighties and was introduced to stop driver fatigue and improve road safety and replaced the log book. The first tachographs in HGV’s were analogue in the shape of a paper carbon disc that was marked by a stylus and was fitted usually behind a special speedometer of the vehicle that it was used in, the driver manually  filled out the center field of the disc with his details, details of the vehicle, his name, start place of duty i.e. town where driving started, date, mileage of vehicle and would fit it in the tachograph before driving started that day, the tachograph would then record all vehicle movements but the driver would have to remember to change the mode switch to correspond with the task that he was doing, i.e. if he was driving then he would select the drive mode, automatic mode switching was bought in later, although the driver still had to change the mode to rest, other work and periods of availability manually. The tachograph would record on the paper disc the distance covered, vehicle speed and hours worked and also start and finish duty times, the driver at the end of his working day would complete the center field with more details such as place of finishing work, end mileage and the date and he would then have to keep this disc on him for period of time currently 28 days before handing it in to his employer. A new disc would be required at the start of his next duty so the driver would have to ensure that he carried sufficient disc’s to complete his journey.

Falsifying records would be possible as the driver could fill in any information in the centre field of the disc, ie; he could insert a false name or other info either before he began his journey or after and he could leave the entire centre field blank till he had finished his journey only risking being caught if stopped by the ministry of transport or police on that particular journey, the driver could also deface or destroy any tachograph quite easily and claim that it was lost only risking a heavy fine if he was unable to produce the tachograph when required, if the required time scale had passed he could also claim that he had handed it in passing responsibility to his employer. His employer should check that all discs were handed back in at the required time scale but as you can see administering this would be time consuming for the employer if it was a large transport company with a large amount of drivers. If the tachograph unit malfunctioned the driver would then be required to manually draw his movements on the disc thus making it very easy to falsify his records.

To help combat falsifying records disc’s with serial numbers were introduced, requiring the driver to sign for them and these could be then checked when handed back in after use. Scrutinisation of the tachograph required specialised equipment and would generally mean that the tachographs would have to be sent away to a specialist analysing company that would provide detailed output of the information contained on the tachograph. It is law that the company had to keep records for at least twelve months so you can imagine the number of tachographs that had to be kept grew to an enormous amount, approximately two hundred per driver per year and these would need to be filed away neatly for inspection by the ministry of transport or anyone else.