Impunity ends for French drivers speeding in Spain

From Thursday this week any driver with a French registered car, who is flashed by a speed camera in Spain will no longer be able to get away without paying. The same will go for Spanish drivers snared by one of France's legion of speed radars.

Impunity ends for French drivers speeding in Spain
France's army of speed of cameras will now be able to rake in cash from speeding Spanish drivers. Photo: ludovic/flickr

French drivers caught flouting the speed limits in Spain can expect a fine through the post next time the return from holiday from across the Pyrenées and they will have to pay up or risk court action.

The crackdown is thanks to a reciprocal agreement between the two countries aimed at cracking down on speeding foreign drivers, which comes into force on Thursday.

In recent months France has moved to crackdown on speeding foreign drivers as it aims to cut the number of deaths on the country's roads.

Since speed cameras were first rolled out in France around 25 percent of recorded infractions were attributed to cars registered abroad, even though foreign vehicles represented only 5 percent of road traffic, according to statistics published by France’s road safety body.

That number shoots up dramatically to 50 percent during the summer, with all the holiday makers heading to France.

But until Thursday the French government has been unable to fill its coffers with the money from speeding fines.

And it appears Paris has lost out a decent income from speedsters from across the border in Spain.

Figures for 2012 show that almost 450,000 speeding violations caught on camera by France’s radars, belonged to cars registered in Spain.

French drivers appear to be slightly better behaved when they cross the border into Spain, with around 130,000 speeding violations attributed to cars registered in France.

Since July 2012, France has had bi-lateral agreements in place with Belgium and similar accords have been in place with, Switzerland and Luxembourg and Germany which mean any nationals from those countries flashed on French roads have had to pay up.

The EU is adopting this agreement progressively, except in Britain, Ireland and Denmark which have refused to sign up.

Any driver caught red handed by the police themselves however, has had to pay on-the-spot fines, and with France rolling out a new secret weapon against speeding drivers it is wiser than ever to stick to the speed limits.

French authorities can pursue foreign drivers for driving infractions such as speeding, not wearing seat belts, jumping a red light, drink or drug driving and driving whilst talking on mobile phones.

“We don’t have the same driving rules across Europe and certain motorists are allowed to drive faster in their own country, like on German motorways, but European drivers must respect the rules of the road for the country they are driving in,” said French Senator Odette Herviaux.

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France to triple its arsenal of ‘super speed cameras’ by 2020

Up to 1,2000 “speed cameras of the future” will be installed on roads across France by the end of next year, three times the initial amount projected. The hi-tech spy cameras do much more than clock drivers’ speed.

France to triple its arsenal of 'super speed cameras' by 2020
Photo: AFP

France’s government has decided to shrug off the ire many “yellow vest” protesters feel towards speed cameras and triple its fleet of high-tech radars tourelles, from the 400 planned for this year to 1,200 by the end of 2020. 

The devices are capable of not only clocking your speed but also recording a variety of other misdemeanours, such as phoning while driving, sudden swerving, not respecting the safety distance between vehicles, jumping a red light, not wearing a seatbelt, or overtaking on the right, which is illegal in France.

Three quarters of France’s existing speed cameras have been vandalised since the start of the “yellow vest” protests last year, but these newest models are perched on four-metre tall posts and are said to be far harder to vandalise than existing ones.


“The speed cameras are painted, hammered or wrapped in something but five to seven days after the damage report has been filed they get fixed,” Emmanuel Barbe, France’s Interdepartmental delegate for Road Safety, told Le Parisien.

“For every speed camera that’s damaged beyond repair we replace it with a newer turret speed camera.

“So far we have installed 150 to 200 of these new models. Our goal is to install 400 to 450 by the end of 2019 and 1,200 by the end of 2020. “

Asked what percentage of speed cameras were currently out of order after being vandalised, Barbe said he’d rather not answer the question so as to not encourage criminal practises. 

The cameras, whose brand name is the Mesta Fusion 2 and which can monitor eight lanes of traffic and several vehicles at once, will reportedly only be used initially to catch people speeding.

There will however be four decoy cameras for each operating one, and the decoys and the real ones will be switched regularly to prevent drivers figuring out which are the ones catching them breaking the law.