Enforcement suppliers highlight industry best practice

Major suppliers of enforcement technology highlight the countries, regions or cities that they consider to be leading the way in reduction of road traffic violations. The French government’s ambitious programme of enforcing traffic law violations has proven to be an unrivalled success and is continuing to bring improvements in road safety with innovative enforcement technology.
Enforcement / March 15, 2012
Major suppliers of enforcement technology highlight the countries, regions or cities that they consider to be leading the way in reduction of road traffic violations.


The French government’s ambitious programme of enforcing traffic law violations has proven to be an unrivalled success and is continuing to bring improvements in road safety with innovative enforcement technology.

Sustained deployment of thousands of violation detection devices as part of a fully automated system operating from a national processing centre brought a 51% reduction in fatalities in 10 years. Road user behaviour improved – nationally average speeds fell 12% between 2002 and 2009 – and the fairness of the system produced a measured acceptance level of 70% among drivers. Since implementation of the programme, road accident costs for local authorities have decreased by 17%. Penalties have generated revenue 2.5 times the total cost of the system, enabling extra funding for authorities.

4561 Morpho (SAFRAN group) supplied and maintained fixed (MESTA 2000-2200) and mobile (MESTA 1000-1200) automated digital cameras of the first major phase of speed enforcement in France between 2003 and 2008. Since then the programme has continued to expand with further focus on speed violations and introduction of systems to enforce penalties for ‘red light running’. Morpho was awarded a contract to supply red light cameras (MESTA 3000) in the south east quarter of France. France’s traffic violation devices are proving to be very reliable: an availability rate of 95% has been observed in the field, taking into account road works and acts of vandalism. A French National Assembly report notes this availability to ‘far exceed those observed in Great Britain, Spain, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany’.

In order to further boost road safety efforts and to encourage all road users to respect the highway code at all times, the French government has announced a programme to deploy average speed control equipment. In 2012, France will become one of the first countries to implement such equipment nationwide.


Abu Dhabi city is a modern and dynamic metropolis pushing boundaries of technology and design, as manifest in new construction projects. Abu Dhabi Vision 2030 incorporates an urban structure framework plan that allows for the planning of infrastructure ahead of its time while preserving the unique cultural heritage of the emirate of Abu Dhabi.

This constant drive for excellence also stands true for the Abu Dhabi government and police approach to automated enforcement. With an extensive road network, high vehicle usage and an alarming road death toll, automated enforcement was identified as a crucial part of road safety plans.

The challenge for automated enforcement provider 112 Redflex Traffic Systems was to develop a technically advanced fixed red light and speed enforcement system, that from a design perspective reflected the Abu Dhabi 2030 vision and was non intrusive on its environment. This led to the creation of the NK7 dual radar system and range of enclosures.

These have a contemporary slimline design modelled to reflect elements of the Abu Dhabi city skyline and to blend into the city streets. This included such fine detailing as the etching of traditional patterns on to the exterior of the system, a common feature throughout the Middle East. The ballistic rated stainless steel enclosure has been engineered to withstand the harsh desert climate and vandalism.

The NK7 dual radar system eliminates traditional interference problems through complex filtering algorithms that detect and remove reflections. This has allowed installation in inner city areas and on roads under heavy traffic conditions. The combination of speed and tracking radar with advanced camera software improves the effectiveness of the system in comparison to traditional radar and lasers. Multiple vehicles are tracked and speed measured in either direction and in specific lanes. Greater lane discrimination and incident accuracy have improved detection and prosecution rates comparable with conventional in-road detection methods.

Abu Dhabi has shown that clients can develop systems exactly meeting specific needs by working closely with suppliers through research and development processes.

By striving to implement the most advanced radar technology available, Abu Dhabi has created a type of fixed and mobile enforcement system that can now be used by municipalities across the world for increasing violation detection rates, ultimately changing driving behaviour and making roads safer.

Sensys Traffic

Sweden has achieved among the world’s lowest rates of death and severe injury on its roads. According to a 2009 1819 World Health Organisation report comparing road safety across 178 countries, Sweden scored in the top five of countries with lowest numbers killed or seriously injured (KSI) per capita. This comes after Sweden reduced its KSI figures by 10% through a scientific and systematic approach to speed enforcement.

Speed has been found to be the most significant factor determining the severity of consequences of traffic accidents in Sweden. As a result, a Swedish road safety strategy launched in 2005 concentrated on reducing traffic speeds, with a focus on three distinct speed limits.

Scientific study found that the three speeds 30, 50 and 70km/h were critical in different types of collisions. In impacts between pedestrians and cars, at 30km/h the survival rate for pedestrians was 80-90%. If the vehicle was travelling just 5km/h faster, only 5-10% survived. Similarly, 50km/h was found to be the critical survival speed in side-on collisions between cars; 70km/h came out as crucial for head-on crashes.

Work on improving road safety in Sweden has focused on applying and enforcing these three speed limits where appropriate.

Further study of accident data in Sweden on the frequency, severity, type and cause of collisions across all roads in Sweden via a common database shared by transport authorities, police  and hospitals, has allowed 569 Sensys Traffic speed enforcement cameras to be placed systematically: around 1000 sites have now been selected and activated on the basis of this accident data. In some cases, cameras are placed at fairly close intervals to keep drivers aware of the need to observe speed limits.

This engineering approach to traffic speed enforcement has brought an overall change in driving behaviour, contributing to a 30% reduction in road fatalities across all types of accident. Sweden is continuing its policy of targeting the causes of death and injury on its roads. If all drivers kept to the three critical speeds of 30, 50 and 70km/h where they are applied, an additional 200 lives would be saved every year.

1679 Gatso

It took almost 30 years for road safety policies in France to reduce annual fatalities by 50% from a peak of 17,000 recorded in 1973. This despite improvements to roads and vehicles, and initiatives to change driver behaviour including efforts to reduce speeding and drinking and driving, with introduction of penalty points. A further 50% reduction in fatality figures was achieved during the eight years following 2002, largely as a result of automated speed enforcement applied with political willpower.

In 2002 the then President Jacques Chirac declared road safety as one of three priorities he wanted to emphasise during the following five years. The development of digital photography in traffic enforcement raised the idea of a major project to bring down the number of traffic victims with large scale implementation of radar, automated processing and centralisation of enforcement responsibilities.

A first test was conducted in 2003 with 70 cameras and an experimental processing centre in Lille. Towards the end of that year an ambitious project was launched to install radar speed enforcement equipment at 1000 sites and to implement associated fine processes over a period of two years.
Information is collected by fixed and in-car speed cameras, including a digital photo file of the offence which is encrypted and then sent to a national centre for processing over a dedicated network transmission.

The process includes software for the automatic reading of number plates in digital images, with automatic checking of vehicle registration details against the French national database. Monitoring of payments is also automated. These activities are centralised in a purpose built national processing centre (CNT) in Rennes.

At this point human intervention is only required to support the automatic reading of the plates if the software detects an uncertainty; if the confidence of the reading system is below a certain level. Operators then act to complete the operation.
The legal process in place has been carefully designed to avoid congestion in the courts. Before offence notices are sent to violators, these are processed by the Centre for Automated Recognition of Road Traffic Offences integrated in the CNT, where a Judicial Police Officer validates each offence. French law was amended to allow this process. Treatment of objections to fines was considered very important. A process with documentation of the fine was established to avoid disputes of principle.

Currently there are about 2100 fixed speed cameras and 900 mobile cameras in France. In eight years nearly 10 million offences were reported and the number of traffic casualties in France has halved. Other road safety measures in France have contributed to this result, including enforcement of red light offences, but automated digital speed enforcement applied with political willpower has undoubtedly played a crucial role.


Enforcement by measurement of average speed is now well established in the UK with benefits widely understood by highway engineers, local authorities, police and crucially, the travelling public. It is now 12 years since the first 604 Vysionics SPECS average speed systems were trialled in Nottingham. During that time over 250 installations have taken place in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. More average speed cameras are in operation in the UK than the rest of the world combined.

What can we learn from this experience? With hindsight it is possible to learn what works, what does not work and crucially, to understand why systems are effective. SPECS works because road users understand what it is. Large, clear signs state ‘average speed check’ and highly recognisable yellow camera columns and cameras are dotted along the length of an enforcement route. Drivers are made fully aware that they are entering a monitored area, so they modify their behaviour accordingly.

What benefits are seen from use of average speed control?  A review of UK SPECS sites reveals predictable and repeatable patterns, despite their location on a wide range of route lengths, speed limits and carriageway types.

Initially, SPECS was introduced to reduce road casualties and in this regard it has proven to be extraordinarily effective. On average, killed or seriously injured (KSI) casualties have reduced by over 70% per site. There is a range of reductions of 30% to 100%, but KSI figures have dropped at every single location.

It quickly became apparent that traffic flows better through an average speed control zone.  Speeds become more uniform, which allows for a steady and smooth flow of traffic, in turn increasing capacity and further reducing chance of collision. Some SPECS installations are now operated as traffic management solutions, such as an example at the M3/M25 junction harmonising flow between two motorways.

Public acceptability has been gained by average speed sites being clearly signed and delivering safer and more reliable journeys for road users. The number of enforcement notices issued is correspondingly low, resulting in a very high level of acceptance, in contrast to opinions expressed with regard to other enforcement technologies, which are generally thought to be “out there to catch you and raise money”.

It is only possible to achieve all of these benefits if average speed control is appropriately and correctly applied. UK experience shows that a well designed installation with clear signage and obvious enforcement equipment has the greatest impact, because road users understand that they need to modify their behaviour.

American Traffic Solutions

The City of Edmonton in the Alberta province of western Canada has a system in place which 17 American Traffic Solutions (ATS) believes exemplifies how a road safety camera programme should be operated.

Edmonton’s programme began in September 1999 with six cameras rotating through 12 locations. Nearly 10 years later, at the beginning of 2009, provincial legislation was passed allowing police agencies in Alberta to use road safety cameras to enforce both red light and speed infractions. In Edmonton, cameras capture red light violations and speed violations not only during the red phase, but also through the green and amber (yellow) phases.

That same year, Edmonton signed up a new vendor to upgrade and expand the city’s enforcement technology. Speed and red light safety cameras from ATS began operations in November 2009, yielding immediate results. From 2009 to 2010, intersection injury collisions decreased by 124 and fatalities fell from 15 to 13, according to the Edmonton Office of Traffic Safety. Although intersection crashes rose 2.7% in 2010, total collisions across the city decreased and the number of people injured fell to a 15-year low. Even more remarkable is the fact that these declines occurred despite continuous growth in the size of Edmonton’s population, vehicle ownership and road network.

Further analysis is needed to fully quantify the connection between changes in collisions and the use of red light and speed safety cameras. But it’s fair to say that Edmonton continues to experience a reduction in fatalities, injuries and collisions based on a speed management continuum, with automated enforcement and selection of sites for intersection safety cameras and photo radar equipment conducted through a rigorous scientific methodology.

In the United States, the lifesaving effects of red light safety cameras gained new recognition in 2011. Research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found red light cameras reduced fatalities by 24% in 14 of the largest populated US cities in a five year period. Had all 99 large US cities used red light safety cameras, 815 deaths could have been prevented.
Edmonton’s success does not rest entirely on technology. The city believes that the key to reducing traffic violations is constant effort to increase public awareness of the dangers of red light running and excessive speed, through education and accepted enforcement techniques. The Edmonton Police Service emphasises how road safety cameras supplement, rather than replace, regular enforcement activities by officers. Results prove the city is on the right track to making its community safer. It’s a model to be studied.


Applications in the field of enforcement are a mix of road safety technology, law and social impacts. Best practice is not necessarily defined by geographical area, but rather to the way the aforementioned factors are balanced by authorities.

Enforcement practice can be described as ‘best’ where a system or operation is valuably applied in terms of road safety improvement while gaining overall public acceptance. In Italy, a land of frequent legal disputes around traffic enforcement, a number of discrete examples of good practice present lessons for others to follow.

Some enforcement applications are easily recognised by all road users, such as 83 Kria’s T-ID automatic license plate recognition system applied to enforce vehicle access control in many Italian town and city centres. This traffic code law is perceived by most people in Italy to have brought a great improvement to safety and quality of life. An important lesson here, is that when a law brings substantial tangible benefit, it is well accepted.

Other applications are more challenging but can still be considered as best practice. Usually, speed and red light detections, even if related to more dangerous infringements, are not so readily accepted, because people have no immediate evidence of the related benefit of safe driving behaviour. Instead, a frequent response to enforcement is to accuse authorities of inflicting abuse.
 Some Kria devices (T-RED red light enforcement cameras) are used by Tiziano Boselli, an Italian local police commander in the Province of Milan. He has used red light and speed enforcement for several years now and monitored trend curves of many road traffic parameters. Since T-REDs were installed, the number of accidents has evidently dropped in Milan by about 20% per year and this trend can be reasonably expected to continue. Boselli believes that the public administration must keep all drivers informed of the existence and reasoning of Milan’s overall road safety and enforcement strategy – and its positive results.

Traffic monitoring and enforcement devices can provide more than just violation detection. Their use should be extended to ITS and security fields. By this means the public and both public and private sectors may appreciate more the benefits of these types of device.

Kria T-EXSPEED monitoring cameras have been installed on highways in the Region Valle d’Aosta for gathering traffic speed statistics, identifying dangerous goods, vehicle counting and classification as well as detection of black-listed license plates. Information collected is separated at origin and sent to different relevant destinations, such as various regional authorities’ servers and control rooms, including the region’s fire department. Costs for installing and operating the devices are shared among the stakeholders, but the data is strictly and securely managed by each.

 The lesson we learn from this example of best practice is that enforcement or monitoring devices can and must be demystified; they must appear to all as good multi-purpose tools for use by open minded public administrations.