Dash cam footage speeding prosecutions could be about to happen
Police forces are increasingly using the public’s dash cam footage to prosecute dangerous driving. Now footage could be used in speeding prosecutions too.
Dash cam footage of dangerous driving has been used by police forces for some time. A number of forces, such as Cheshire and the whole of the Welsh constabulary have even set up websites to make it easier for drivers, cyclists, horse riders and even bikers to submit footage of alleged dangerous driving offences.
In a new development, we have heard of a force in the South East taking the next step and also reviewing footage for speeding. Previously it was thought this was not possible.
Forensic technology for speeding offices
A B&B staffer recently attended a countryside ride-out that started with a warning from the ride leader. They would be riding through a county where he had connections to traffic officers and they had told him forensic techniques and technology were being used to review speeding footage submitted by members of the public. He was given the impression that the activity was not in trial and that prosecutions could be pending. Soon.
We have agreed not to reveal the name of the force or county but, knowing the source well, we have no reason not to believe the claims – although questions remain over whether such prosecutions would currently be possible. Dash cams are not type approved or calibrated.
Separately, another source revealed, “Speeding offences may possibly be proved where there is a known distance between two fixed points on the road. The speed of the vehicle could then be estimated by the time it takes to pass between those points on the footage. This is why cameras used to have white lines painted on the road. If the riders/drivers identity could be established then it MAY be possible to prosecute for speeding but this would probably be tested in court.”
Obviously, at this stage without any reports of actual prosecutions, this is anecdotal. We don’t know what that technology is or whether the techniques could indeed lead to successful prosecutions under current law. There have, however, been successful prosecutions where footage has led to a speeding conviction, but only because the vehicle’s speedometer was visible. In most cases, a prosecution has followed the rider’s own footage being posted to social media.
If speed can be proved from other road users’ footage, and there is no reason to believe why this wouldn’t be possible given constant advances in technology, then the implications for many bikers are clear…
There are plenty of secret policemen out there
Nextbase, a UK company that manufactures dash cams, is encouraging drivers to upload dashcam footage to a gallery, whether an offence has been committed or not.
In the video below, a biker makes a poorly-judged overtake. There may be a speeding offence in play – who knows without proper forensic analysis – but clearly there are no solid white lines. Regardless, this driver thinks the rider’s actions need to be publicised. And there’s nothing to stop them doing that.
Many country roads users don’t have much time for bikers. Certainly not the bikes who appear as if from nowhere and sit inches from their rear corner before screaming past obviously doing well in excess of any speed limit.
In the past, all the driver could do was swear under their breath and if they were quick enough to take a reg number maybe make a call to the police later. Rarely would anything come of it.
Now, with the advent of smartphone cameras and dedicated dash cams, it’s very easy for them to capture the slightest misdemeanour. But that’s been the case for a while.
The difference now is that the police are making it much easier to upload the footage and they have founds ways to quickly process it.
Operation Snap was set up in North Wales in October 2016. Of the first 100 videos uploaded, 80 led to prosecutions for dangerous driving. There were only two appeals, both failed.
Can forces be blamed?
Some police forces have suffered a 35-36% drop in roads policing officers during ‘Austerity.’ Nationally, there are 27% fewer traffic police since 2010. The ones that remain are severely overstretched.
During the same period, some insanely powerful bikes (and cars) are hitting the road.
Can police forces be blamed for turning to the public and technology to try and ensure the roads aren’t being used as a race track?
Well, I guess that depends on whether you thought it was OK for the Stasi to recruit friends and neighbours to watch a person’s every move, back in the days of the GDR…
Get yourself sorted:
Officially: Don’t ride like a dick.
‘Unofficially’: It’s too easy to say, ‘If you were speeding, you deserved it.’ That’s too simplistic and doesn’t reflect what happens during perfectly safe progressive rides.
The reality is, dash cams aren’t going to stop ‘speeding’. Visible deterrents like good old-fashioned police cars emblazoned with hi-viz markings do that. If there were any left.
All dashcam warriors do is increase the chances of an accident because we’ll be too busy peering inside every car to see if it’s got a camera rigged up.