Several speed camera myths have been busted by a retired police officer.

Some commonly-held theories were rubbished, while others were proven true by former North Wales traffic cop Gareth Thomas.

He said cameras were there to "reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads" before going into detail about hidden speed vans, flashing headlights and the so-called "10% rule".

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Is it true that speed vans have to be visible at all times?

There are no laws about visibility and nothing stopping an officer operating in the dark, but they do not often choose to do this as being visible acts as a deterrent of its own.

Mr Thomas said: "Legally, we don't have to be visible. I could camouflage myself if I wanted to – but it's all about being fair, education and preventing an accident. Even if I parked my van and went for a walk somewhere, it would deter people speeding right away."

As well as not needing to be visible, Mr Thomas added that any car that passes a speed camera van is recorded on the camera, regardless of which direction it goes.

It is true that the 10 per cent rule exists?

Mr Thomas confirmed that you will not get a ticket provided your speed does not exceed the limit by more than 10% plus 1mph on roads in North Wales.

However, rulings can change without notice and officially any speeding offence occurs at 1mph above the limit. Some forces may apply this strictly, but most forces will allow a variance.

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For those caught speeding, Mr Thomas said: "An accredited course is far more likely to improve driver behaviour and consequently make our roads safer.

"Courses are available to drivers who respond quickly to the 'notices' and who were driving at no more than 10 per cent, plus 9 mph above the posted speed limit."

Is it illegal to eat behind the wheel?

While not illegal to eat behind the wheel of a vehicle, Mr Thomas recalled referring one woman to be prosecuted for driving while attempting to apply lipstick under a careless driving charge.

On eating behind the wheel, Mr Thomas said: "It is endorseable. I had one lady in view once and she was looking in the mirror and putting lipstick on.

"She was riding on the cats eyes in the centre of the road and veering. I recommended that she was prosecuted for driving without due care and attention."

Do officers enforce anything other than speeding?

Officers operating camera vans are also responsible for making sure those in the vehicle are wearing their seatbelts and that a driver is not on their mobile phone.

Mr Thomas also noted that it is illegal to obstruct a van's field of view during operational duties and that anyone can be prosecuted for it.

Drivers choosing to warn other drivers of a speed van by flashing their lights could also be in breach of the law, although Mr Thomas admitted it is a difficult offence to prove.

He said: "It doesn't bother me that people flash to warn them of the speed van – I just want to educate people and the van to act as a speed deterrent."

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Can I get caught speeding more than once on the same day by the same camera?

Current standings have shown that vans will count multiple offences of speeding within a 20 minute window as one offence.

Mr Thomas does say however that some offences committed "on the same occasion" have been counted as more than one, as it is the court's discretion to impose the number of points and offences.

Every case depends on the circumstances, and Mr Thomas warned that multiple speeding offences in such a short window happen more often than first thought, with speed cameras placed on the same road or motorway.

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