PH Blog: let's talk about SPECS


The SPECS camera isn't as invasive as its Gatso or Truvelo relatives for two obvious reasons. Its presence, especially on motorways is always clearly marked, and it records time over a specific distance and therefore doesn't pounce with a strobe of instantaneous flash light and send a bolt of fear down your spine. BOOF! I just got done.

SPECS' beady eye is everywhere these days
SPECS' beady eye is everywhere these days
What currently fascinates with SPECS cameras isn't the number of people who still pile past us at 80mph in a 50mph zone. I discussed them in a previous life, and everyone agreed they have either nicked the car or will get pinched. No, my current obsession involves maximising efficiency through any given SPECS zone. Trouble is, I'm not sure how to get the best from them. I need a SPECS lesson.

For starters, how early do those beady, yellow frowns begin to track your speed? I want to persuade myself that I can get down to 50mph right underneath them, but something about their positioning always spooks me into thinking they've been monitoring me from 400m away. It's un-nerving, so I probably slow too early.

Being in 'the zone' has much in common with being a young Skywalker on final approach to the guts of the Death Star "Red Leader this is Gold Leader" and all that. Close-formation driving, monitoring all vehicle information "Your speeds too high, you're coming in too fast!" subtle alterations to avoid meandering HGVs and of course the most difficult skill - matching your speed against other drivers.

All bets off after dark?
All bets off after dark?
What's the ideal speed? Using the old text book, allowing for speedometer error and some wriggle-room from the authorities, you'd have to say an indicated 54mph is about right. Add another 1mph and you begin to creep away from your tormentor in the A4 TDi Sportline (with privacy glass), but does that 1mph send you into the death zone - "use The Force Luke!" - or are you well within the limit? For that matter, try adding 1mph accurately in a GT2 RS. It isn't easy. If your mons pubis shifts 4mm it can trigger a boost surge that could send you straight to an indicated 65mph - at which point I assume you have to cruise at 20mph for the remainder of 'the zone'. What if you're driving an Italian car? At an indicated 50mph your actual speed could be anything from 35mph to 107mph.

There are so many variables. Are all SPECS zones set to the same tolerances? Do multiple lane changes vex their evil little brains? At night, when you see a camera that doesn't emit that eerie red glow from its lens, does that mean it isn't operational? And if you knew that to be the case, would you have the confidence to use the information in the interests of added velocity?

What I do know is that the simplest solution is to simply set cruise control, should you have it, at 50mph and let the world slide by.

This isn't about speed for speed's sake, it isn't necessarily concerned with arriving at a destination sooner; it's an inquisitive joust at the electronic powers that attempt to contain our behaviours. I don't dislike SPECS cameras, they seem to keep things moving through motorway roadworks.

I just want to know where the line is. As much out of curiosity as anything else.

Chris

Photos: The Highways Agency

Comments (167) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Paul O 17 May 2012

    Munter said:
    So you are in lane 3. Obeying the law. Passing stuff in lane 2 that's going 5-10 mph slower than you...
    Thats fair enough, but so much of the time the outside lane hogs are NOT passing traffic that is going slower than them. They are going the same speed - sometimes slower. Like last night for example with the dozy bint doing 48-49mph in lane 3 whilst lorries and the rest of the world whizzed passed in lane 1 and 2 - and she then proceeded to slam on the anchors at each camera and nearly causing a pile up several times as a result.

    Regardless of the speed and speeders - if someone is holding people up unnecessarily, they should show a bit of basic common courtesy and get out of the way instead of holding some demented moral high ground.

    smile

  • GTIR 16 May 2012

    Deva Link said:
    GTIR said:
    I use the northern section of the M25 a lot and had always put the cruise on at 60mph. (07 E class merc)
    Fine for two years until I got done for 57mph. frown (thankfully I did a speed course)
    That's not an average speed system though, is it? It's an instantaneous check of your speed in a variable limit.
    No, the roadworks from J21A to J23 A1 are average bd cameras.

  • Deva Link 16 May 2012

    GTIR said:
    I use the northern section of the M25 a lot and had always put the cruise on at 60mph. (07 E class merc)
    Fine for two years until I got done for 57mph. frown (thankfully I did a speed course)
    That's not an average speed system though, is it? It's an instantaneous check of your speed in a variable limit.

  • GTIR 16 May 2012

    I use the northern section of the M25 a lot and had always put the cruise on at 60mph. (07 E class merc)
    Fine for two years until I got done for 57mph. frown (thankfully I did a speed course)


    I've in-car footage (dash cam) and I reviewed the video and it clearly states a GPS speed of 57mph.
    I now do 57mph and switch lanes, coz a bloke down the pub told me to.


  • Cyder 16 May 2012

    Robatr0n said:
    I always thought that the M25 was bad for specs what with motorists slowing down when they see the camera and then speeding back up again but the section along the M1 that spans about 15 miles has to be the worst. I was driving towards Northampton a couple of weeks back sat at 50mph on the GPS and people were passing me doing about 60-65mph. Bar maybe 9-10 other cars, I was easily slower than them by a good 10 to 15mph.

    Anyone been harrassed by an angry driver in a coach that's owned by a nationwide coach company? That's always a joy having one of them sat on your bumper with the full beams on and their hand held on the horn as you're legitimately over-taking a car in Lane 1 but as you're in the specs you're only going 2-3mph faster than them.
    Yep, had this on the M4 so took great delight at holding him up for the rest of the roadworks before winding the window down and offering a wave as I accelerated away at the end of the roadworks.

    Utter bellends. hehe

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