Ask anyone with a driving licence in the UK whether or not they have points on their driving licence and the answer sadly is normally yes. It’s not that we have necessarily become a nation of bad drivers, merely that there are so many speed cameras on the roads that you can’t turn a corner without finding yet another one.
Don’t get me wrong, speed cameras are a useful deterrent for stopping speeding drivers but there is such a growing amount of the population that have been affected by them that something should be done.
Whether you see it as law evasion or simply a device to warn you of upcoming black spots the Road Angel aims to give you that little bit of advanced warning that a camera is imminent. This, they say, will stop that sudden crazy hard breaking and the constant eye on the side of the road looking for the things.
Working via a GPS satellite connection, the Road Angel works out where you are an then based on the information that you download via a USB connection and dialing in to the database will work out whether or not there is a camera nearby. The central database is filled with the information of over 50,000 unique sites across the UK and is updated on a daily basis. This way when you drive down the road the data about where the traffic cameras are is correct - they have a habit of moving these things around you know. All you have to do is a) keep the device up to date by docking it with your PC and b) have it on your front dashboard. There is another reason for the mounting on the front dashboard and this is because alongside the connection to the GSP network the device also has a backup sensor for mobile laser guns used by police.
Updating is easy, but does require a yearly registration. To get you started you do get the first six months free when you buy the unit and then depending on how many years you opt for will pay a subscription rate accordingly. The handheld unit, the size of a large bar of soap, connects via USB2.0 and you can get the latest updates whenever you want - the instruction booklet suggests updating on a weekly basis to keep on top of all the changes they make to the database.
In the car, the unit was easy to use. The unit itself sits in a cradle that
sticks to the windscreen using suckers (much like a cuddly toy) and a small visor is included in the box to stop the sunlight ruining the show. Once connected to a cigarette lighter (there are two power cords in the box although you only need one) the system starts searching for the satellite feed to power the GPS. The manual suggests this can take up to 45 minutes however within four we were up and running.
When the unit isn’t warning you of impending cameras, black spots, schools or congestion zones the display - which is backlit with a blue light - displays the time, the direction you are travelling in and the speed you are going. The speed according to our speedometer was very accurate, probably more so than the speedometer itself.
Upon nearing a speed camera for example you get a number of warnings all of which can be customised. The first is a man’s voice telling you of the alert, then you get a beep and then you get even more beeps slowly getting closer together as you approach the alert.
From a users point of view this is very useful however also very distracting and we have to admit that we did find ourselves memorised by the display rather than perhaps paying full attention to the road ahead - still, at least we weren’t breaking the speed limit. As an added incentive to alert you the unit also flashes bright red.
At £400 you'll have to be certain that you are likely to be caught speeding, or already have nine points on your licence with the fear of loosing it altogether. That said the road angel works very well straight out of the box. We had no problem finding the satellites to gain the information and the unit hasn't missed any of the speed cameras we've passed.
More impressive is that it even picked up a speed camera that we didn't know existed and it wasn't even a fixed unit. The makers of the road angel suggest that users of the unit have had 74% fewer speeding endorsements, 50% fewer accidents. How they can tell this is beyond us, but if it works and will help us to reduce the chance of getting those £60 fines and points on the licence we are all for it, it's just a shame such a tool comes at such a price.
This product was kindly loaned to us by www.boysstuff.co.uk