Speed Camera Detectors

Speed camera

The rights and wrongs of speed camera detectors have been hotly debated, but although some drivers do use them in a cynical way to avoid being caught driving recklessly, they can also be a useful aid to promote speed awareness, and help drivers to form safer driving habits. 

There are some misconceptions about the use of speed camera detectors, so here’s a useful guide to explain what they are, the different types available, and how they work.

Are speed camera detectors legal to use in the UK?

At the moment, yes. The UK Parliament keeps returning to this issue, though – proposals to change the Road Safety Bill to make speed camera detectors illegal are reviewed fairly regularly, but as yet, have not been implemented.

In particular, technology that detects mobile laser and radar detection devices may be barred in the future. Anticipating this, some devices that work on this basis have already been withdrawn from the market. Some GPS detection systems still include a radar and laser detection module that can be disabled if the law changes in the future.

How do speed camera detectors work?

The most advanced speed camera detectors offer a whole host of useful features. These devices (or smartphone apps) can identify the speed limit for the road you’re driving on, alert you if your speed strays over the limit and notify you when you approach an area with a fixed speed camera, as well as speed laser guns and traffic light cameras.

Types of speed camera detector

Speed limitGPS Based Detectors

This class of detectors uses a database containing locations of fixed cameras and accident black-spots, and warns you when you’re approaching one. They use GPS to plot your position and warn you of any potential dangers.


  • Will work with any kind of camera providing it is in the database
  • Usually include other features such as current driving speed, road speed limit etc.
  • Will warn you about accident black-spots


  • If the camera isn't in the database you won't get a warning
  • Needs updating regularly
  • You won't be able to tell what cameras are active

Radar and laser speed camera detectors

This class of detectors scans the areas around you for signals emitted by radar and laser speed cameras used by the police. As mentioned previously, it's possible this type of detector could be made illegal in the future if the UK Parliament amends the Road Safety Bill.


  • Best for detecting mobile speed cameras
  • Some models can warn you up to three miles before the camera’s location
  • No need for a database which needs updating all the time


  • Can’t detect some newer models of camera
  • No alerts for average speed zones. These are zones with two overhead cameras, 200 metres apart, which measure your average speed between the first and second cameras
  • Can get lots of false warnings, particularly from petrol stations

Laser Jammers

There is no question about these devices: THEY ARE NOT LEGAL. Do not buy or use them.

They operate by detecting a radar or laser beam from police scanners and then sending out another signal on the same frequency which prevents their own car’s speed being detected. 

Drivers caught using jamming devices will be prosecuted; the penalty can be severe, including prison time for perverting the course of justice. 

Other devices that can promote speed awareness 

GPS NavigationSat Navs

Many sat nav devices include speed limit information and also alert the driver to fixed speed cameras in the area. The downside, of course, is that sat navs are generally not updated as regularly as a dedicated GPS detector, so your information could be out-of-date.


Many dashcams include GPS functionality which can warn of speed cameras, display your vehicle’s speed or sound an alert if you exceed the current speed limit.

Why we care about speed awareness 

Most drivers will accidentally exceed the speed limit at some point. Avoiding a speeding ticket is not the only, or even the best reason for using a speed camera detector. 

  • Any device that makes you check your speed more frequently will make you more aware of how well you're driving. Forming better driving habits makes the roads safer for everyone
  • Lowering your speed improves fuel efficiency, which helps the environment and saves you money 
  • No speeding conviction? It might help reduce your car insurance premium

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