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Truvelo TRIMMS night-time speeds on unlit roads

First publishedin ITS International
May June 2014
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TRIMMS infrared illumination shutterstock
Truvelo UK’s new TRIMMS infrared illumination enables mobile speed enforcement in the dead of night.

Lincolnshire is the UK’s fourth-largest county, has a population of over a million and is predominantly rural. Only 66km of its 8,893km road network is dual carriageway and 79% of the rest is ‘C’ class or unclassified roads. In terms of Killed and Seriously Injured (KSI) figures, there were 415 casualties in 2013 (down from 526 in 2002). Official figures show inappropriate speed accounts for 25% of the UK’s road-related fatalities and it has a history of automated enforcement. Lincolnshire has 50 fixed speed cameras and one average speed system operating at publicised sites, and a mobile enforcement strategy provides a round-the-clock deterrent. However, the Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership, which has five camera-equipped vans, has come up against a development which many consider positive – digitisation.

Digitisation has removed the limitation of wet film magazines and heralded the always-on capabilities of self-triggering cameras with fixed or wireless connectivity. However, with certain high-end exceptions, digital cameras do not offer the dynamic imaging range of wet-film systems. This, combined with the retro-reflectivity of modern licence plates, causes problems when attempting to capture images of speeding vehicles at night (when more than 30% of the UK’s KSIs occur). These problems have effectively restricted mobile enforcement to times and locations with ambient light, leading some motorists to feel they can speed on dark unlit rural roads with near impunity.

Addressing burn-out

Proof of an offence requires both a visible licence plate and identification of the make and model of the vehicle. The level of illumination needed to capture the image of a vehicle at night can burn-out the characters on retro-reflective plates. However Truvelo UK has developing TRIMMS (the Truvelo Infrared Make and Model Solution) which offers a solution.

TRIMMS is an infrared IR illumination system which works with US-based Kustom Signals’ LASERwitness Lite mobile digital video speed enforcement system. LASERwitness Lite, which Truvelo distributes in the UK, captures five to six second video clips of speeding vehicles and its in-built IR illuminator has appreciable night-time capability on street-lit roads and at dawn/dusk.
TRIMMS can extend that capability to totally unlit conditions - enabling night-time mobile speed enforcement on unlit roads.

TRIMMS is a standalone system comprising a bank of IR floodlamps and a power pack and can be sited upstream of enforcement cameras. Unlike visible-spectrum illumination TRIMMS need not be linked or triggered by the camera and can be used in conjunction with camera systems without UK Home Office Type Approval.

Being IR, and therefore largely invisible to the naked eye, TRIMMS can provide constant illumination without causing driver distraction. Prior to launch, Truvelo carried out roadside testing in conjunction with the ACPO-related Road Safety Support organisation (see below) which provides expert opinion and help on matters relating to road casualty reductions. The organisation attested to TRIMMS’s effectiveness.

Operational flexibility

Lincolnshire’s TRIMMS unit can be deployed with any of the Road Safety Partnership’s mobile units. Safety camera partnership manager Steve Batchelor says this has had a very positive effect on enforcement operations.

“It allows us far greater flexibility. We can now visit most locations throughout the county at any time of day or night. This has led to improved targeting of enforcement times and extended hours of operation.

“Being predominantly rural, we have always been keen to extend the low-light and no-light enforcement capabilities of our mobile systems, and the deployment of TRIMMS enables enforcement during the hours of dawn and dusk and into complete darkness.”

Future development

Image burn-out can occur with IR if light levels and angles are incorrect. The stand-alone version of TRIMMS being used in Lincolnshire sits at 45o to the direction of traffic. However, there is a trend to use civilian operatives for enforcement and a reluctance to have non-police-trained individuals leave the safety of their vehicles at night. To accommodate this, Truvelo has developed a vehicle-mounted version of TRIMMS which is soon to enter police service in southern England.

Road Safety Support

Road Safety Support (RSS) is an independent non-profit organisation that works to reduce the number of KSIs on the roads while delivering justice to drivers contravening road traffic laws. It also works with police forces and road safety professionals in Hong Kong, Australia, the US and islands in the Caribbean.

Companies in this article

Kustom Signals
Road Safety Support

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