Siemens deploys unique traffic weight enforcement system on Oxfordshire bridge

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Siemens ITS has deployed a new ALPR-based traffic enforcement system on a historic bridge in Oxfordshire; this is the first time that Automatic License Plate Recognition cameras have been used to enforce a road weight restriction in the UK.

Oxfordshire Trading Standards have introduced the new technology to help protect one of the oldest river crossings on the River Thames at Newbridge. Supplied and supported by leading traffic technology supplier Siemens ITS, the system identifies traffic that exceeds the weight limit on the A415 between Abingdon and Witney, and can also maintain an enforcement schedule and permitted vehicle lists. The schedule will allow for selected enforcement periods required for other types of restriction, with the permitted vehicle lists identifying council vehicles that are permitted to use the route irrespective of their weight limit, such as refuse collection, emergency response or road maintenance vehicles.

The weight enforcement scheme uses equipment from Siemens’ growing civil and criminal enforcement portfolio. For the Oxfordshire project, the company has used its robust, tried and tested SafeZone ALPR cameras, which have been installed on existing CCTV columns to minimize disruption and cost. The equipment uses 3G communications and only requires a power connection, aiding the installation and flexibility of the camera’s deployment.

Oxfordshire County Council has also added new road signs in the area to alert drivers to the weight restriction and enforcement activity. Trading Standards officers are proactively monitoring the bridge and enforcing the weight limit. Vehicles exceeding 18 tons maximum gross weight using the bridge can be fined up to £1,000 (US$1,350). Despite being built in the 13th century, the Grade I listed structure is known as the ‘New Bridge’ and has national recognition and statutory protection. Not being designed to carry modern traffic, the weight limit is imposed to protect its weakening structure.

“We are committed to protecting this irreplaceable historic bridge and this technology allows us to do just that,” explained Judith Heathcoat, deputy leader of Oxfordshire County Council. “We are responding to concerns from the local community and are alerting drivers of heavy vehicles so they can find other routes.”

Joe Moxham, UK product sales manager at Siemens ITS, explained, “Evidence downloaded from the cameras can be used to demonstrate that drivers have committed an offence, allowing the Trading Standards team to investigate with knowledge and a reliable witness of events, providing enforcement quality images of the vehicle in contravention during any time of the day or night, and in all weather conditions.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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