Further to my post on 5th February about the reliability of hand held speed cameras, I came across another news article today which casts doubt on the accuracy of the VASCAR speed detection systems.
The VASCAR units are still regularly used both in the UK and the USA, although some places now use the newer Radar and Laser Speed Guns.
Apparently police chiefs in Scotland have been told not to issue speeding tickets if the evidence for speeding was obtained from one of the VASCAR units. It has come to light that there are issues with both the reliability and accuracy of the units due to interference! There is also doubt being cast on the reliability of the Provida and Police Pilot speed detection systems.
The VASCAR, Vehicle Average Speed Computer and Recorder, estimates the speed of vehicles by working out how long the vehicle takes to travel a given distance. The operator of the machine flips a switch when the vehicle goes past a given point and then again when they pass a second point. The machine calculates the speed and it is displayed on a readout.
The device, frequently used in the UK has never needed Home Office Approval or accuracy testing, even though accuracy seems to depend on the operators skill when using the machine. The manufacturers insist that accuracy is maintained when the ‘quartz crystal’ performs a self test establishing that it is indeed accurate when calculating the speed of vehicles
Unfortunately it appears that these machines may be at risk of interference from Airwave Radios, used by the police, and GSM phones! This came to light when UK officials were trying to integrate the systems with the new ANPR systems, (Automated Number Plate Recognition) and the new digital radios.
These officials already knew a previous test revealed that interference was recorded on the VASACR machine when a mobile phone or radio was used within six and a half feet of it.
As early as August 2008 the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary were advised by memo NOT to use the TLED, (Traffic Law Enforcement Devices) within any vehicle where an Airwave Radio or GSM phone was switched on. If the ‘transmit inhibit’ system was enabled it was ok to use the TLED. They advised that failure to operate the TLED in this manner may compromise prosecutions bought against motorists.
Until such times as the matter has been fully investigated police officers are advised to use alternative equipment to detect whether road users are speeding.
The lawyers in Scotland are now probably rubbing their hands in glee at the prospect of possibly overturning thousands of previous speeding convictions and obtaining refunds for convicted motorists. And I am sure the same will soon be happening anywhere else these devices are still in use!
Road traffic solicitors are advising that people who have been convicted using one of the VASCAR devices may want to seek the advice of a specialist solicitor and look into the possibility of lodging an appeal. This may result in all cases going back as far as 2005, when the police introduced the Airwave Radio, being reviewed.
They are also advising that if you have a prosecution pending you should enter a not guilty plea and have the reliability of the VASCAR device examined.
Take a look at these other posts on the subject of speeding:
U-Turn Over VASCAR Decision?
Faulty cameras could wipe out speeding convictions
Source Article: Speed trap device may be faulty, say police