NAPO - CEPA - Reading Type 4 - Text 4

        While travelling along main roads in the UAE you will see signs saying, “Road controlled by radar.” These signs warn drivers not to travel too fast. If they do, traffic cameras will take a picture of the car and the police will fine drivers who drive over the speed limit. These cameras are called “safety cameras”, “speed cameras” or simply “traffic cameras’’. The first such cameras were invented in Holland by a racing driver called Maurice Gatsonides in order to measure his own speed. The company he formed developed this radar-based camera for use with ordinary road traffic, and is still the world's largest supplier of speed camera systems. Because of this, in some countries a speed camera is sometimes called a "Gatso". At first, the cameras used film, but nowadays they almost all use digital images, and although the first cameras used radar, not all of them do so today. Other systems include the use of sensitive strips built into the road, infra-red light, or lasers.

        Some traffic camera systems don’t just take pictures of vehicles travelling too fast at one place, but take two pictures at two points several kilometers apart, and then calculate the vehicle’s average speed. They can do this with a device that reads all vehicles’ number plates at each camera and then matches up the same numbers with the exact times that the car passed the
devices. From this, they calculate how much time the car took to travel that distance and then see if this was over the speed limit. This method can catch drivers who only slow down when they see a camera ahead, and speed up when they have passed it.

        There are many different types of traffic camera. Most in the UAE are mounted in boxes on poles at permanent sites, but others are small enough to be carried around and set up at different sites, while some are small enough to be held in the hand and pointed at vehicles like a gun. Their introduction has not always been welcomed by drivers, who often feel that safety issues do not justify their use. For this reason a number of studies have been made of their effect on road safety. A British government study found that road speeds dropped by seven per cent where they were introduced, with a sixteen to forty per cent drop in accidents. This appears to show that traffic cameras are effective at reducing accidents and injuries, and perhaps they should be used
more widely.


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