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Gareth Thomas has been working as a ‘Casualty Reduction Officer’ for some years with speed watch organisation Go Safe after retiring from North Wales police force.
He now works from a mobile speed unit van and told North Wales Live all about how speed cameras work, the truth behind some of the most popular myths and claims and – and how you can avoid being caught speeding.

He explained: “I decided after retiring that I wanted to make the roads as safe as they can be in this area.

“The aim of cameras is to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads.

He explained: “I decided after retiring that I wanted to make the roads as safe as they can be in this area.

“The aim of cameras is to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads.”

Is it true that speed vans have to be visible at all times?
“No. There are no laws about visibility, so there is nothing stopping an officer operating in the dark. But they don’t often choose to do this, and maintain that being visible acts as a deterrent in its own right.”

He continued: “Legally, we don’t have to be visible. I could camouflage myself if I wanted to – but it’s all about being fair, education and preventing an accident.

“Even if I parked my van and went for a walk somewhere, it would deter people speeding right away.”

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Can officers only catch motorists travelling in one direction?
“No. Any car that passes a Go Safe van is recorded on the officer’s camera,” said Mr Thomas.

“So if you’re exceeding the speed limit whether you’re driving in the same or opposite direction to the van, you can expect a speeding ticket.”

Is it true that the 10 percent rule exists?
“Yes. You will not get a ticket provided your speed does not exceed the limit by more than 10 per cent, plus 1mph on North Wales roads,” Mr Thomas explained.

“So for example, travelling at 35mph or above in a 30mph zone will be recorded as a speeding offence.

“However, Go Safe say thresholds vary and can change without notice. Officially, any speeding offence occurs at 1mph above the limit, but most forces will allow a variance.”

Can a driver get caught speeding more than once on the same day by the same camera?
“The current position with Go Safe is that if you are caught twice in 20 minutes, it will be treated as one offence,” said Mr Thomas.

“In theory, a driver with a previously clean licence could be caught several times on the same day – and as a result be at risk of disqualification under the totting-up system.

“If you are caught speeding several times on the same journey and accept a fixed penalty for each, you could be at risk of a penalty points disqualification (totting-up).”

Is it illegal to flash your headlights to alert motorists of a GoSafe speed van?
If drivers choose to flash to warn others about a speed van, they could be in breach of the law. Under section 89 of the Police Act 1997 it is an offence to “wilfully obstruct a constable in the execution of his/her duty”.

Mr Thomas said: “It doesn’t bother me that people flash to warn them of the speed van – I just want to educate people and the van to act as a speed deterrent.”

Do officers enforce anything other than speeding?
“Yes. Officers are there to make sure you are wearing a seatbelt and are not using your mobile phones behind the wheel. Anyone caught breaking these laws will be prosecuted.“

How long do GoSafe speed vans tend to stay at one particular spot?
For technical reasons, a speed van will only remain in a certain spot for 90 minutes, Mr Thomas revealed.
During his average eight hour shift, he will normally visit three different spots across the region where he has been ordered to visit.

Locations for the van are chosen for a number of reasons including:

Death or serious injury has occurred at the location.
Speeds in the area have been recorded as significantly high.
Speeding concerns have been raised by residents and those concerns have been corroborated by a traffic speed survey.
Go Safe are supporting a police enforcement campaign.

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