Stealth speed cameras sweeping across major UK motorways

Friday, January 16, 2015 - 15:25
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One stealth camera seen behind the gantry on the M25

How soon before they’re near you?

One of our most popular posts in 2014 was regarding the potential of ‘stealth’ speed cameras sweeping across sections of ‘smart’ motorway, where traffic flow is controlled using numerous techniques.

Needless to say, the article was quite divisive – some of our readership saw the news as nothing more than an example of the government grasping the opportunity to squeeze more cash out of motorists while others saw it as a cost-effective way to improve safety and reduce deaths and injuries.

The major news is that the potential is now becoming a reality. Going by the thoroughly imaginative name of Highways Agency Digital Enforcement Camera System 3 (god bless bureaucracy) or Hadecs 3 if you want to save your breath, the camera was initially installed on the M25 in Kent in October and in its first few months it has already amassed over one thousand speeding fines.

The Highways Agency chose the M25 for the initial Hadecs 3 trial due to it being part of the coalition government’s Smart Motorway concept – whereby the hard shoulder is opened during peak hours and a variable speed limit is enforced.

The underhanded nature of the camera (or stealth aspect if you want to use that terminology) is that the cameras are a dull grey instead of the bright yellow motorists are used to seeing. On top of this, the camera is able to cover all lanes of the motorway and can take rapid pictures of the offending vehicle unlike the current set-up which includes two cameras to catch a speeding car entering and leaving the zone and is unable to cover more than one lane. The Highways Agency refute this allegation of the cameras being stealth, pointing out that the zone where the cameras operate in are accompanied by warning signs.

With the Hadecs 3 soon to be rolled out on other smart motorways such as the M1 in Yorkshire, M6 in Birmingham, and the M3 do you see the stealth camera as a help or a hindrance? Let us know in the comments below.


  1. In principle I don’t have a problem with any aspect of law enorcement. However, this appears to be a money making scheme on the safest roads in the country. To turn the argument on its head, if travelling fast only saves a few minutes compared with travelling at the limit, what’s the issue of speed, provided no phone usage, no drink involved and no dangerous driving?

  2. Stealth? Have similar cameras not been used for years? Driver training and discipline prevent unnecessary fines, save fuel and lives.

  3. The cameras are active when the variable speed limit is in force and there are large illuminated signs above each lane showing the speed limit and ones showing speed cameras are in operation and they do take pictures of speeding motorist when they are illuminated, I have run a number of fleets and not received any speeding notices for fixed cameras on motorways for speeds exceeding 70mph, on the other hand I have received numerous speeding notice’s from mobile cameras on bridges mainly on the M6 at the end of the day don’t speed travel from Manchester to London in excess of 90mph when you can will get you points and to the destination a matter of minutes quicker than if you travel at 65mph I know I have proved it with some of my drivers

  4. I am reliably informed – by a motorway police officer that when the gantry’s are non-operational the speed limit for the cameras is set at 79 mph.So anything above 80 will result in a fine.A friend of mine has proved it by getting a ticket at 85 mph.
    This applies to the variable speed cameras on the M4 and M5 where they meet north of Bristol

  5. There seems to be some discussion whether these gantry cameras are only ‘active’ when the variable limit is set below 70mph such as at 50mph. Can anyone clarify this?

    • As far as I’m aware they’re only active when the variable limit is on but I’ve not had any information in black and white stating that

  6. If as is claimed they are a road safety feature and not a revenue earner these should be bright bold and visible – not just a few warning signs – however the whole issue does raise the issue of who is monitoring the Highways Agency – and their lack of accountability to the motorist. We have an election in a few months lets put our representatives under some pressure and add this whole question to the myriad list of things we need to be asking these individuals and then lets hold them to account on everything they do.

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