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.


Photos: The Highways Agency

Comments (167) Join the discussion on the forum

  • MB 1 15 May 2012

    I always enter the SPECS zone at the agreed speed, then use full bore GT3 launch speed, just as you can see the end of the zone. Flloring it from 50 is a nice feeling smile

    This normally sees me going past the last SPECS at well over a ton, and leaves a lot of puzzled looks from other drivers, but i've not been fined yet biggrin

    And on that note, what's with these fktards who will happily speed in the zone, but have to slam their brakes on when going past the camera. It's not a speed camera FFS!

  • MrTickle 15 May 2012

    Surely with ACPO guidelines at 10%+2mph giving 57mph in a 50, plus some speedo inaccuracy likely to take that to 59-60, then sticking to 'around' and indicated 55mph will always be safe from a dreaded NIP?

  • spiritof'76 15 May 2012

    ......... and there was thinking you were going to have all the answers tongue out

    Truth is, i just keep changing lanes after every one as a precaution against error just because some unnamed person told me that's what you have to do biggrin

    Most likely, that person knows nothing for sure atall and ditto for me, how the hell should i know grumpy

  • dublet 15 May 2012

    Use the satnav Luke! It will give you your actual speed, so you should be safe to do that + 10%. Which means it's probably 60mph on your speedo before you actually reach 50mph.

  • Quikcurl 15 May 2012

    I quite enjoy the "who dares, wins" aspect of SPECS. Always egging myself on for "just one more mph".


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