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Section control

Section control is a relatively new way of speed limit enforcement. With section control, vehicle speeds can be measured over a longer distance. This means that instead of enforcing vehicle speeds with a speed camera at a single point, section control measures the average speed of a vehicle over a distance of 3 kilometers. Section control works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, which means the chance of being caught is 100 percent.

On a stretch of road where section control is employed, more drivers obey the speed limits. On sections where speed limits were frequently exceeded in the past, the number of offences has been brought back to a few percent by employment of section control.

Section control is beneficial for road safety, traffic flow and the environment. The Bureau Verkeershandhaving OM (Bureau Traffic Enforcement of the Public Prosecution Service) oversees the operational section control systems. The aim is to expand to twenty section control-systems in the next ten years.

Frequently asked questions about section control

How does section control work?
Section control uses several digital(speed)cameras on portals on a stretch of road. These cameras photograph every vehicle passing underneath. When a vehicle has passed the last portal, a computer calculates the average driving speed. If the vehicles average speed is higher than the speed limit, a fine will be sent to the address of the driver. When section control is in use, 100 percent of the offenders will be caught. Section control will not replace speed cameras, it is an additional means for enforcing speed limits just like laserguns, mobile radar equipment, video surveillance etc.

What type of road is suitable for section control?
A stretch of road will have to meet the following requirements:
  • In the past many speed related accidents and dangerous situations have occurred on the section of road;
  • Air pollution can be reduced on this section of road by lowering the speed limit;
  • There are no infrastructural changes planned the next few years for this section of road;
  • The section of road should be at least 3 kilometers long without any access or exit roads.
Which roads do already have section control?
The following Dutch roads already have operational section control systems:
  • A2 near Maarssen and Breukelen;
  • A4 near Mainvillage and Nieuw Vennep;
  • A12 near De Meern and Woerden;
  • section control on the N919;
  • section control on the Zeelandbrug;
  • section control in Flevoland (mobile section control System).
This year section control will also be employed in the Westerscheldetunnel.

Will section control replace speed enforcement by speed camera?
No. section control will not replace the speed limit enforcement method of speed cameras. Section control is an additional means of enforcing speed limits. However, it is possible that in the future some speed cameras will be replaced by section control. But not every road is suitable for section control because of junctions of curves. Also some unsafe situations call for a camera instead of section control, for instance a camera to catch drivers running a red light.

Do the correction margins also apply to section control?
Yes, just like other means of speed enforcement, section control keeps a margin of 7 km/h (a speed limit of 100km/h) or 8 km/h (at a speed limit of 120 km/h) before a fine will be sent. Before determining the fine, a correction will be applied. When the measured speed is less than 100km/h, the correction will subtract 3 kilometers; when the speed is over 100km/h, the correction subtracts 3 percent off of the measured speed. The measured and the corrected speed will both be printed on the fine.

What about my privacy?
People who abide the speed limits have nothing to fear; the computer of the section control system only saves the photographs of the vehicles which exceed the speed limit. The photographs of the offenders will be collected and send to the CJIB (Centraal Justitieel Incasso Bureau), which is responsible for sending the fines to the offenders. Your privacy will not be treated any different from other speed control methods.

Does section control also reckon with the temporary speed limits on the matrix-sings?
Yes. The system indeed does reckon with the temporary speed limits shown on matrix-signs. When the matrix-signs change (or are activated/deactivated) the signaled speed the section control-system will use a time buffer which will allow people to adapt to the new speed limit. The highest speed limit will be taken in to account for this.

I saw a camera flash while driving underneath a section control portal, but I wasn’t speeding!
In the section control-system photographs are taken of every vehicle passing underneath the portals. For this a flash may be used (although not every system uses a flash). The computer calculates the average speed of every vehicle. If a vehicle did not exceed the speed limit, the photographs are deleted immediately. This is why it is possible you did see a flash, however you will not receive a fine. For vehicles that did exceed the speed limit, the photographs will not be deleted. These photographs will be sent to the Public Prosecution service and the drivers will receive a fine.

Is section control a valid means of enforcing speed limits?
Yes, The Hoge Raad (the high council of the Netherlands) deemed section control a valid means of speed limit enforcement. (HR 26/01/1999, nr. 108591).

Section control must be very profitable for the Dutch government?
The fines are not important. Or rather: fewer fines are better. If we have to fine less people because of section control, that means that people abide the speed limits better, this is the goal of section control. Less fines means safer roads, less damage to the environment and better traffic flow due to smaller speed differences between vehicles.

Why section control?
The advantage of section control is that speed limits are not enforced on a single point, but over a longer stretch of road. People feel that section control is a more honest means of enforcement than speed cameras which measure the speed at a single moment. Another advantage is that traffic flows better because of smaller speed differences between vehicles.

With section control speed limits can be enforced 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There are no technical limitations like film rolls that have to be changed, and the whole process can be automated.

What are the environmental effects of section control?
On roads where section control is employed, the average speed has dropped, which means that the emission of dangerous exhaust fumes is also lowered. The amount of noise interference is also reduced. According to TNO, a Dutch scientific research company, the section control system on the A13 has very good results: in the district of Overschie (near Rotterdam) the air is cleaner by 5 to 10 percent. This is not only due to section control, but speed limits have also been lowered to 80km/h.

Is section control always operational? How can I see if the system is operated?
In normal conditions section control is employed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. When the system is operational, the chance of getting caught is 100 percent. When we suspect that there is a malfunction, the system will be taken offline. In the introductory phase of a new section control system, the system will also sometimes be offline. Road users can not see when a system is operational or offline.

Is section control also operational at night?
Yes, section control is also operated at night. Although the road is not very busy at night or in the early morning, these are the moments when the gravest accidents occur. Speed plays a crucial part. Higher speeds mean longer distances to react and to come to a stop. As well as more damage to vehicles and people. Another reason for operating section control is the environment. For the emission of dangerous exhaust fumes and pollution the difference between a speed of 120km/h or 140 km/h is substantial. Noise reduction is also a good argument to employ section control at night. Higher speeds means more noise, which is not very desirable for people living near the highways.

If I change lanes or drive on the hard shoulder of the road, will I escape a fine?
No, section control checks the whole width of the road including the shoulders. It will also recognize vehicles that have changed lanes.

Does section control also work for motorcycles, lorries or cars with a trailer?
Yes, section control works the same for all types of vehicle. For lorries, busses and cars with trailers the system will know, because of the size of the vehicle, that a different speed limit is applicable.

Will section control be employed on all the Dutch roads?
No. Not every road is suitable for section control. When there are junctions, or many curves the road is unsuitable. Some traffic safety issues can be handled in a different manner, like cameras to catch people running a red light. However the number of section control systems will grow in the future, the system will not replace all speed cameras.
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