Top telematics: Black box helps driver swerve speeding fine

GPS data sends from Northumbria Police

Motoring campaigner Neil Herron has beaten a mobile police speed trap rap by using the threat of revealing his own GPS-based telematics data in court.

The incident took place in January 2014, when Herron was stopped by a police patrol who were using a Tele-traffic LTI 20:20 Ultralyte 1000 infrared laser gun. (PDF datasheet)

The cops said their speed gun showed Herron was doing 40mph in a 30mph zone.

Herron luckily happened to be testing a GPS-powered data logging unit, described as a “driver safety telematic device”. Data recorded by the device indicated that Herron's speed was below the 30mph speed limit. This gave him the ammunition to challenge the police evidence in court.

While some motor insurers do not allow you to use their legal cover to fight speeding fines, Herron’s home legal cover had the action, which took 19 months to come to court. Sunderland Magistrates' Court found in his favour after the Crown Prosecution Service offered no evidence against him.

Herron told haulage trade news site Fleet News: “I would not have had any grounds on which to challenge the allegation if I had not had the data from the device. Many drivers have faced similar allegations and believed that they were not speeding but had no way of proving it. Now we have the affordable technology which motorists can use to create driving peace of mind.”

Mr Herron was represented by motoring lawyer Philip Somarakis, who told Fleet News:

Based on previous experience in other cases, laser speed detection devices can produce erroneous results and in this case Mr Herron was convinced he was not speeding as alleged and stated he had telematics data to support that view.

When confronted with the failings in court the prosecution determined to offer no evidence.

The manufacturer of the speed camera, Tele-traffic, told The Register that it had not been approached by Northumberland Police about the incident and was not actually aware of the case, suggesting that we speak to the police’s usual expert witness company Road Safety Support. Their technical manager, Steve Callaghan, told El Reg:

The LTI20.20 Ultralyte 1000 is a Home Office Type Approved device that makes measurements in an accurate way and is of high integrity when used correctly.

The evidence from the device used by Mr Herron was not considered by the court, so there is no established error indicated by that device.

It may well have been that the police knew that the camera data was erroneous and faced with a person who was prepared to fight, dropped the case.

We have contacted Northumbria Police to try find out why the CPS did not pursue the case, but did not get a response. It could well be worth having a GPS track your speed routinely, just in case. ®

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