A new police camera that can catch motorists from over half a mile away unveiled by Gloucestershire police last week as part of Operation Indemnis, a pilot project designed to help reduce the number of accidents caused by dangerous driving.

The new camera, affectionately dubbed “The Long Ranger,” not only catches drivers who are speeding but also those who are tailgating, not wearing a seatbelt or using a mobile phone at the wheel. The culmination of all of the above makes this camera a truly powerful tool for the police, enabling them to identify number plates and drivers from over a kilometre away.

Aims and hopes

One of the main ways the camera will be used is the education and awareness of drivers. It is part of a collaborative scheme to police the A417 and A419, a major route link between Gloucestershire and Wiltshire. This road is a major accident hotspot, and so police hope that the new camera will help not only to reduce collisions but help to reduce the dangerous, and sometimes collision causing driving.

Those who are driving in a potentially dangerous manner will be educated, while those who are driving illegally will be prosecuted.

Martin Surl, Police and Crime Commissioner for Gloucestershire, is hopeful that the camera will help to not only reduce the number of accidents in the area but also educate drivers on practices such as using a mobile phone behind the wheel.

Mr Surl said “This is one of the county’s busiest roads which also has one of the worst accident records due to the way it’s used.

Many people have come to me with their concerns about speeding and other safety issues along this road.

We now have a chance to test a new model of collaborative road policing which, if it proves a success, can be put into practice elsewhere.

The aim is not just to penalise motorists but to uphold the law by creating a change in people’s behaviour. But the police will enforce the law when necessary.”

Repeated across the country

If successful, more of these cameras could be rolled out across the country to help with more dangerous roads.

As seen at the top of this article, the person in the red car is driving at speed and incredibly dangerous. The police camera video footage, given to GlouscteshireLive by Mr Surl’s office, is from an incident on the A417 in January this year, captured by the new super camera, and was released to demonstrate it’s effectiveness. The driver of the red car, who was later prosecuted and fined for speeding, comes into view (top left of screen) in the outside lane and ‘shunts’ the car in front into the middle lane. You can see the red car driver remonstrate with the driver that he has just forced over In the top right corner you can see his speed is recorded at 93mph. The red car then begins to tailgate a second car, which crosses into its path.

At the end of this year, this ‘super speed camera’ along with other safety inducing methods, will be reviewed to determine their effectiveness along with their investment costs.

Safety reasons

As released in the latest Department for Transport documents, it was shown that over a quarter of people who died in road traffic collisions were not wearing a seatbelt, so the concern is well founded.

The number of people killed on the roads due to not wearing a seatbelt increased by 7% from 20% in 2016 to 27% in 2017. While not wearing a seatbelt carries a £100 fine, or £500 if taken to court, it places no points on a driving licence, unlike those who use a mobile phone behind the wheel or speed.

Just last week, we wrote an article showing that 46% of journeys conducted in the UK broke the speed limit last year, with 86% of 20mph limits broken.

Collaboration with both other forces and government bodies is the answer for Chief Inspector Mark Soderland, who believes that while the roads in England are some of the safest, there is always an opportunity to improve safety.

Mr Soderland said: “A core aim of the approach is collaborating wherever possible with other road safety stakeholders. The team has started with Highways England and the county council and is now approaching groups such as the Motor Insurers Bureau, The Institute of Advanced Motorists and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Authority to explore what opportunities there might be to work together and improve safety.

Criminality is also important to the operation. Having a police presence on a strategic road such as the A417 is also an excellent opportunity to prevent and disrupt criminals from entering the county. Hence the use of ANPR and intelligence briefings.

Officers have been instructed to stop any vehicle they deem appropriate to do so whether it is because of poor standard of driving, the condition of a vehicle, criminal intelligence-led enquiries or other intelligence like missing persons.”

Do you think that this is the right thing for the police to do? Would you like one of these cameras near you? Let us know below

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