October 16, 2012

20 years of GATSO Convictions

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Twenty years ago this month, was the birth of a new system that would change the way motorists behaved on the roads for years to come. A new system named the “GATSO” system was invented and put into order to catch people on the Twickenham Bridge (on the A316 in south west London) that were driving erratically and at at high speeds. The GATSO system was a system that would monitor speeds on the bend that was limited at 40mph.

Within a week of the system being switched on there were already 20 cars that were caught going at over 70mph on the bend. Even more worrying was the number after 22 days of the trial period that showed 22,939 going over 65mph. Fines were dependent on the individuals income, which meant that you could be caught doing double the speed limit and still only get a fine of £32.00 according to the paper reporting at the time. One big knock-on effect was the rise in insurance premiums this caused as insurers were able to use drivers driving records to rate their risks. We have always maintained schemes for these drivers under our convicted driver insurance policies where we try to reduce the effect of points on licences.

Roger Reynolds the police officer who was at the time leading the camera program, said “speeding’s a pyramid. Everybody speeds, but in a 30 most are doing 30-35mph, fewer are doing 40-45mph and at the top people are doing 60mph. So we said let’s start at the top.” The original camera based in Twickenham was only set to flash at speeds of 60mph as it was only meant to remind people about the speeds they were travelling not to catch them out. The technology in the top models of these cameras cost around £10,000 and this technology allowed the camera to flash the driver and record the speeds, these were only in one in eight of the cameras around at the time and there is reportedly only 500-600 in operation even to this day. The lesser model only had £1000 worth of technology within it and only allowed the camera to flash the driver as a warning.

Overseeing the rest of the London camera network until 1999, Reynolds became angry at the sudden escalation of fines and more so that trigger speeds were being lowered in order to catch people out. There was also a “netting off” system introduced in 2000 which meant that local authorities kept a percentage of the income made from the speeding drivers. “When you put a camera in, the number of speeders always reduces. Suddenly there’s no money coming in, so they drop the trigger speed from 38mph to 35mph to pay the bills. What good does it do? It just alienates you from the public”.

Whatever your opinion on the camera, it has made a difference and over the years there has been people who see benefits from the lack of speeding/reckless drivers on the road, but also people who are caught out. Here at Keith Michaels we have schemes available that allow us to quote for convicted driver insurance and we have a team that are knowledgeable in the impact they can have on your insurance premiums. For your quote please give us a call today.