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WHAT IS ROAD ANGEL?
Road Angel uses GPS technology to map the precise location of your vehicle, and using a database of all of the major varieties of fixed speed camera and blackspots, can warn you when you are approaching a camera or blackspot. GPS also means that if you break down, you can use the unit to determine your precise longitude and latitude which can be given to your breakdown assistance company to help them find you quicker.
Plenty of warning is given; the unit will light up red whilst a recorded voice will tell you the nature of the danger ahead, whether it be a camera or blackspot. This is followed by a series of beeps which increase in speed as you approach the hazard and stop altogether once you are past it with surprising accuracy. You can also program in your own danger sites and even set your own maximum speed, which once exceeded will result in a warning from the unit.
WHAT’S IN THE BOX?
As well as the unit itself, you get two leads to plug the unit into the cigarette lighter, one coiled and one straight, a bracket with two suction pads to attach to the windscreen, a disc of metal to stick to the dash (the unit attaches magnetically), a USB cable to connect the unit to your computer and an anti-glare visor.
A motorcycle mounting kit is also sold separately (approx £20), though bear in mind that the unit would have to be hard wired into the power supply.
The unit comes with the most up to date database of cameras and blackspots already stored on it, however this will need to be updated from time to time to keep up with changing camera sites. I registered my unit online and found the website easy to use and updated my unit with no trouble at all. You get 6 months subscription included with the price of the unit and further subscription may be purchased at £49 for one year, £79 for 2 years and £99 for 3 years.
The unit must be mounted on the dashboard or windscreen, making sure that the view of the unit is not obstructed by anything such as the windscreen wipers. When the unit is first turned on, by simply plugging into the cigarette lighter, it must be left for a little while to search for satellites in order to determine its location. In my case this took about 10 minutes but may take longer than this depending on the proximity of the satellites above the earth, however on subsequent uses this will only take a matter of seconds. Once this is completed you may drive off, when the Road Angel will tell you your speed, direction of travel and the time.
The unit is easy to use, having only three buttons, and is easy to mount and remove from the vehicle. Road Angel recommend that the bracket is removed as well as the unit to avoid break-ins by people hoping to find the unit. As this gives a bit too much to carry round, I tend to leave the bracket out of view in the glove box and just take the unit with me.
The only major usage problem I have found with the unit is vibration particularly when driving on bumpy roads. I was using the dash mounting but found that as the mount is round and sits in a round plate on the bottom of the unit, it just turned round with the vibration, so I am now using the windscreen bracket instead. I don’t really think this will be a problem to the majority of users as I do have stiffened suspension.
SPEED CAMERAS DETECTED
The New Road Angel is able to detect Gatso, TruVelo, SPECS, Watchman, Speedcurb, DS2 and mobile laser guns. The unit is extremely accurate with all kinds of camera except the mobile laser guns. Although a laser detection device is included in the unit, there are many problems with reliably detecting this kind of camera. Mainly, laser guns are not fired continuously, as the Police are only supposed to fire it at vehicles they suspect of speeding, so unless the gun is being fired, the unit is unable to detect it. Also, detection depends upon where the laser beam is pointed. If the laser is being pointed at your number plate from a distance of 200m, the beam will actually be as little as 2cm diameter when it reaches your vehicle, which is unlikely to be detected by a windscreen mounted unit (as this will be more than 2cm from your number plate!). In order to help this problem a little, you are able to program into the unit sites that you know are regularly used as mobile speed traps.
In general, I have found this unit accurate and reliable and although it appears a little pricey at £399, if it saves me from a speeding conviction once it will be worth it. Speeding endorsements are now held on record for 5 years, so you not only have the expense of the fixed penalty fine but also the higher insurance premiums. As well as saving you from those penalty points, there is also the safety issue, with Road Angel users experiencing 50% fewer accidents.
If purchasing a Road Angel, make sure you know which model you are getting, particularly if buying online. There is quite a lot of demand for the new unit and there are lots of offers on the old unit so please be aware that there are two models.