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Wednesday 26 November 2003

Don't believe everything you read.

We're all a little bit wiser to email hoaxes these days aren't we? Nope, it appears not. I, along with thousands of others, received the following forward in my email box today.

The new electronic signs on the M4 were switched on this Tuesday. The bad news is that they are rigged with the SPECS speed cameras. This probably applies to all the new signs being installed on the M5, M6 and M42.

SPECS is a computer-camera based system. As you go past the sign a digital camera reads your number plate. When you go past the next sign your number plate is read again. The computer 'knows' how far apart the signs are so it can work out your average speed between the two, or three or four.

The system is fully automatic and will issue a ticket without any form of human intervention. It does this for every single vehicle that passes. You will not know you have been caught as the cameras don't flash. They work 24/7, 365 days a year, and theoretically, there's absolutely no limit on the number of tickets that the system can issue.

The whole section of the M4 between Theale (J12) and Membury Services (Between 14 and 15) is wired, both ways. The system is set to trigger a ticket at 78MPH. Radar detectors will be of no use as SPECS is entirely passive, there is no laser beam to detect.

(For our American cousins, M4, M6 and M42 are motorways, or freeways)

Of course, it's a hoax but thousands believed it. The BBC even did an article about it.

SPECS cameras do exist, there are some in Nottingham, but they are not mounted in congestion warning signs. Those on motorbikes can safely ignore them because they only photograph the front of a vehicle and there's no number plate on the front of UK bikes.

Speed Check are responsible for running the current SPECS trials and details can be found on their SPECS page.

Speed cameras in general are a particularly emotive issue at the moment with the government spearheading a drive to increase the number of speeding tickets issued year on year. Many people say this appears to have more of a financial motive than a safety one. As speeding tickets issued have more than quadrupled over the last 4 year period for which figures are available but road deaths have remained almost constant, there would appear to be some merit to those complaints.

But that's a whole different post.......

November 26, 2003 5:07 PM | Driving , Scams

6 Comments

It appears the address for this post has been doing the rounds by email recently to people who've been caught out by the hoax. I'm glad it's helped.

If you've been sent a copy of this email, please email me a copy to aardvarkblog@hotmail.com.

If this page has helped at all, leave me a comment here.

Nice one.

Robert Condy said on December 3, 2003 10:12 AM:

J.C....next thing you know, kids will be trying to convince us, some fat bloke in a tacky red,n,white cozzy will be visiting in a few weeks time with an endless appetite for pies,n,fruit and equally endless supply of useless overpriced prezzies. BAH, Humbug.........

rachel said on December 5, 2003 6:17 PM:

does the dismissal of the specs speed cameras on m4 include the email going round reguarding the m6 and m60?

In reply to Rachel. The wording for both these hoaxes is exactly the same, so I believe the M6 story is just as much of a hoax as the M4 original.

Wayne said on December 9, 2003 9:09 PM:

With respect to the M6 message, if you check the press coverage on the speed check website, they confirm that it is a hoax! - Just need to tell all the people who mailed it to me now.

Richard said on January 10, 2004 9:23 AM:

i was driving on the M6 going north just after charnock richard services and i saw a red flash in the bottom right hand corner of a big electronic information sign that runs across the motorway. i was just wondering what this was and can anyone tell me, i thought it would be a camera part of the "hoax" but after reading peoples comments, this isnt so.

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