Man, 71, loses £30,000 of his son’s inheritance fighting a £100 speeding fine – but can the camera lie?

Richard Keedwell passionately denies he was driving 35mph in a 30mph zone on a day trip to Worcester in 2016.

Instead of paying the £100 fine and taking the three points on his licence on the chin, the 71-year-old was determined to fight his case in court. He feels there’s a “great con” going on with speeding fines.

However, he never dreamed it would end up costing him so much. He claims a “seriously flawed” legal system has resulted in him spending £30,000 of his savings in his battle for “justice” – only for it to fail.

The retired engineer, from Yate near Bristol, recruited the help of a video and electronics expert who argued in court that his prosecution was potentially based on a false reading.

Richard said it took four trips to Worcester Magistrates’ Court before his appeal was heard. After losing the case, he lost a further crown court appeal in August.

Mounting costs over three years

“I know I wasn’t doing 30 mph because I’m someone who is quite obsessed with fuel economy and I drive no more than the speed limits to get the most miles per gallon that I can,” he said. “So I was very surprised when I got the NIP [Notice of Intended Prosecution].

“Most people would open it and think damn, and just pay the fine. I’m sick of the injustices happening with our Government and police and ordinary people being ripped off. I thought, I’m going to challenge this.”

A picture of a Gatso speed camera like the one the pensioner was clocked by (Photo: Pixabayl)

Richard said he expected the case would be “fairly quick” but it went on for three years and the expense mounted up – including £21,000 in barristers’ fees and £7,000 in court costs, as well as travel expenses. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said the case involved a “multiplicity of issues” which added to its length.

He said the case had proved “very stressful”.

“I never imagined it would cost this much and I regret the amount I’ve spent,” he said. “The family aren’t happy about it.”

Richard said he had been inspired to fight the cause by the 2006 case of delivery driver Thomas Baird who won his case after a speed camera registered him doing 85mph in a 30mph zone. Like in Richard’s situation, he had been clocked by a device called a Gatso, one of the most common ones with square yellow boxes.

Thomas’ lawyer proved he was actually only travelling 29mph and the prosecution was dropped and he was paid £2,000 to cover his legal costs.

Bobby Bell, director of BB Law, which represented the Leicester resident, said his client would probably not have contested the fine if the reading had not been so high. “This case is a stark reminder that these supposedly infallible devices can produce inaccurate and unreliable evidence,” he said.

How the speed camera could have been inaccurate

It’s a technical, theoretical possibility that radar from the Gatso hits one vehicle and then bounces off another vehicle or surface it can be returned to the device and cause an erroneous speed reading

Video and speed camera expert Tim Farrow

Superintendent Simon from Staffordshire Police at the time of Thomas’ story tweeted that it “was a one-off individual error”. But some expert beg to differ.

A Gatso uses radar technology to trigger the camera to take two photos in quick succession. Video and speed camera expert Tim Farrow told the court in Richard’s case that the speed camera may have been triggered by a car in an adjacent lane.

“It’s a technical, theoretical possibility – I stress the word possibility – that radar from the Gatso hits one vehicle and then bounces off another vehicle or surface it can be returned to the device and cause an erroneous speed reading. It’s called the Double doppler effect which is a known phenomenon.

“The beam could not and did not come directly from Richard’s vehicle in my opinion. This is because his vehicle was well within the radar when the first picture was taken – a fact not disputed by the prosecution – and the photograph is triggered when the vehicle exits the radar beam.

“Therefore the beam must have bounced off another vehicle in the next lane to Richard’s car – which both myself and the prosecution accept was not speeding – when it left the radar beam which triggered the picture being taken.”

The photos also a vehicles position relative to the white calibration lines painted onto the road surface – this is the prosecution’s secondary evidence and enable the accuracy of the camera to be determine.

“I have measured many ladder lines and they are not always accurate, the worst I’ve seen was 1.79m when it was meant to be 2m. When you’re only talking about someone allegedly going over the speed limit by a few miles per hour then this inaccuracy matters. In Richard’s case the original lines were gone due to road works.”.

Calls for threshold to be scrapped

Most police forces have a tolerance of 10 per cent plus 2mph above the limit before a speed camera ‘flashes’. So on a 30 mph road, a camera wouldn’t normally activate unless a car drove past at 35mph or above. Auto Express warn motorists that car speedometer inaccuracies make it difficult to measure how close to the threshold they are travelling.

However, last year, the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s lead on road policing, Anthony Bangham – who is also chief constable of West Mercia Police which prosecuted Richard – called for the 10 per cent buffer to be scrapped. He also said speed awareness courses were being overused, and believes offenders should get fines and points on their licence instead.

Richard and Tim believe any such move would be deeply unfair given the potential problems with speed camera inaccuracies.

A spokesperson for West Mercia Police’s Safer Roads Partnership team said: “All of our speed enforcement cameras are calibrated regularly and are Home Office approved.  This particular offence was dealt with by the Courts, who after hearing all the evidence found the defendant guilty.”

Landmark court case showing mobile speed cameras can lie

In 2007, Dave Lyall’s case made legal history. He went to court after he was accused of doing 59 mph in a 50 zone and showed the speed camera had got it wrong.

The Swindon resident was found not guilty, the first time a court had upheld doubts about the reliability of mobile speed guns.

The BBC reported laser expert Dr Michael Clark explaining a problem called ‘slip effect’. He explained that if the gun’s distance measurements start at the back of a vehicle and finish at the front, this could add up to 30 mph to the recorded speed.

Tim Farrow stresses that this ‘slip effect’ relates to laser cameras, which are different to the radar beam device in Richard’s case.

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Why is my firewall stopping my TomTom sat nav from updating?

I ran into all sorts of difficulties recently when I tried to update my Tomtom Go 610 sat nav. I ended up ringing customer support, and the helpful man explained that the problem lay with the antivirus/firewall built into my Windows 10 laptop. He suggested the easy way to solve the problem was use a Windows 7 computer which I happened to have but was thinking of dumping. He was right, but how do others with just Windows 10 manage?  Barry, Overton

I ran your issue past TomTom, who confirmed that the problem is directly related to the security running on the machine, rather than the Windows 10 software.

“There are a few elements which can cause problems depending on how the port configuration, https settings and so on are configured,” they said.

“Changing computers is a viable option but it would not really make a difference which OS [operating system] it’s running. People can always make exceptions in their security protocol but this is outside TomTom’s support boundaries.”

The good news is it should be fairly easy to adjust your firewall’s settings to allow your sat nav’s MyDriveConnect computer program to download and install the software onto your device.

“All the communication (inbound and outbound, local and remote) via the following TCP ports should be allowed,” the spokesperson said, adding that the TCP port was most important.

The main communication port should be configured to 80, HTTPS (required for logins, associations and all kind of encrypted contents) should be configured to 443,  Internal communication ports should be configured to 3128, 3129 and the web connector port of MyDrive (to communicate with the browser) should be set to 4000.

Hopefully this is helpful and you’ll be able to connect next time you need to update your software without issue.

Send Rhiannon your tech queries at rhiannon.williams@inews.co.uk

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How you can avoid being the victim of road rage, according to a road safety expert

A road safety specialist has offered guidance to drivers on how to change their behaviour in order to reduce their chances of becoming a road rage victim.

GEM Motoring Assist is encouraging drivers to protect themselves by being alert to early signs of road rage and Neil Worth, road safety officer at GEM, has offered five pieces of advice for drivers to consider in the hope of avoiding confrontation on the roads.

Neil comments: “Most of us will have some experience of being on the receiving end of someone else’s aggression. Thankfully, violent and unprovoked attacks are rare, but it pays to be observant and if possible to recognise signs of trouble at their earliest stages.”

“We encourage drivers to leave plenty of time for their journeys, which means they can feel calm and in control at the wheel. Stress can lead to risk taking, and this in turn increases the likelihood of aggressive incidents.

“We also urge drivers to avoid becoming involved in situations they recognise as dangerous or risky. If you’re worried about another driver who may be in danger, then stop and call the police.”

Read more: Jaw-dropping dash cam video shows car flipped onto its roof in 100mph road rage crash

How serious an issue is road rage in the UK?

Road rage incidents can be extremely distressing for victims. The RAC reported in December 2018 that almost half of UK drivers had been a victim of road rage (43 per cent), with female drivers most likely to be targeted. Eighty per cent of women responding to the RAC survey said that the incident ‘stayed with them’ hours after the incident itself, while 63 per cent of men agreed.

As well as being distressing, aggressive behaviour on the roads can be fatal. Department for Transport figures from 2018 showed that more than 5,000 people were either killed or injured in collisions where aggressive driving was a contributing factor in a three-year period.

Commenting on the RAC  report, Richard Gladman, head of driving and riding standards at road safety charity IAM Roadsmart, called on motorists to look at their own behaviour, saying: “Road rage does not affect everyone every day. If you’re finding it is happening very often, you might want to think about how you engage with other road users.”

How can I avoid being a victim of road rage?

While victims should not feel that they are at fault if they have been targeted by an aggressive driver, here are some behaviours that Neil Worth, from GEM, says can help you avoid becoming a victim:

  • Keep calm and show restraint. Every journey brings the risk of frustration and conflict. Make a pledge to be patient. Avoid using your horn or making gestures in anger.
  • Avoid competition and resist the desire to ‘get even’. If the standard of someone else’s driving disappoints you, don’t attempt to educate or rebuke them.
  • Don’t push into traffic queues. If you wait and clearly signal, you won’t wait long before another drive lets you in.
Busy traffic in the UK
Waiting for someone to let you change lanes is less likely to annoy other drivers. Credit: Shutterstock
  • Say thank you, say sorry. Courtesy encourages co-operation on the road. If you make a mistake (and we all do!) or perhaps cut things a bit fine, then a gesture of apology avoids confrontation and helps defuse anger.
  • Move away from trouble. If you feel seriously threatened by another driver, then ensure your car doors are locked and drive (at legal speed) to the nearest police station or busy area (petrol station forecourts are ideal). Use your mobile phone to alert the police. Pressing the horn repeatedly or continuously is likely to deter a potential attacker.

I’m an angry driver, how can I avoid succumbing to my rage?

If a significant proportion of British drivers are reporting that they have been victims of road rage, it stands to reason that many have also been the perpetrator. Advice from the RAC on how to avoid becoming the wrongdoer in a road rage incident is markedly similar to the advice on how to avoid becoming a victim:

  • Stay calm, and if you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed by the stress of a drive, consider pulling over.
  • Don’t retaliate to aggressive or bad driving.
  • Ignore aggressive behaviour from other road users. It’s safer to let someone past rather than matching a dangerous driver’s behaviour.
  • Acknowledge your mistakes and even if you’re not in the wrong, consider apologising.

Read more: Stressed? Here’s the best advice on coping that science has to offer

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Steve Coogan is just the latest celebrity to avoid a driving ban – should the law be tightened?

It sounds like a very convenient excuse: Steve Coogan could not be banned from driving, he successfully argued in court this week, because it would prevent him from recording his next TV series. His character, Alan Partridge, wouldn’t ever be seen using a train or a bus.

Coogan follows many other celebrities who have escaped a ban by claiming it would cause them “exceptional hardship”.

The Porsche-driving TV chef Tom Kerridge, who hit 12 points on his licence after a fourth speeding offence, escaped a ban in January after magistrates were told it would “destroy” his chances of filming a TV series in the US that depended on him driving. He admitted driving at 47mph in a 40mph zone.

The former England cricket captain, Andrew Flintoff, avoided a ban in 2014 – after reaching 12 points by hitting 87mph on the M6 – as he was about to drive a cooking fat-powered van for a TV show.

The pop star Gareth Gates, caught doing 47mph in a 30mph zone in Bradford in 2017, successfully argued that he was “a one-man band” who needed to drive to his shows in his own car full of equipment.

Time for this loophole to be tightened?

The “exceptional hardship” get-out clause is not only open to celebrities, of course. Last month, magistrates in Leicester allowed a truck repairer, Gregory Hollyoake, 43, from Measham, to continue driving because a ban would prevent him from carrying out his work, as well as for personal reasons.

Some might argue this is a good example of the law being pragmatic and flexible if and when required.

But after it was revealed last year that an unnamed driver from the West Midlands was still allowed to drive after clocking up 54 points on his licence, even the specialist motoring solicitor Nick Freeman, known as “Mr Loophole”, said the law needed to be reformed.

“Multiple offences committed by an individual driver are bundled together,” he said. “There should be one exceptional hardship argument for one offence. What we have now is not a loophole. It’s bad law and it’s why the legislation sorely needs redrafting.”

Having cases heard individually could be more lucrative for Mr Freeman. But with 1,770 deaths on Britain’s roads in the last 12-month figures, and calls for the use of hands-free kits while driving to be outlawed to improve safety, it may be felt that drivers should not be able to escape a ban so easily when they hit 12 points.

The loophole is not universal

Not everyone gets away with it, however. In June, the TV presenter Nick Knowles was told he would suffer no “exceptional hardship” when he was banned from driving for six months after he was caught speeding at 85mph in a 70mph zone in his Range Rover. He was also using his mobile phone, despite having a hands-free kit, due to a “dodgy power lead”.

Knowles said afterwards: “The six-month ban was appropriate because to give anything else would be giving me special privilege.”

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