Speeding foreign drivers go unpunished in France

Have you been flashed by a speed camera in France but never received a fine or the usual three point penalty on your license? Well you're not alone. It appears plenty of speeding drivers are getting away with it in France, particularly foreign ones.

Speeding foreign drivers go unpunished in France
Over 40 percent of speeding offences by foreign drivers in France are going unpunished. Photo: Laurent Henschen.

France’s 4,000 speed cameras are expected to pull in an eye-watering €800 million in 2013 to boost state coffers, but it could have been a lot, lot more.

A senate report published this week revealed that almost a third of speeding offences caught on camera by France’s legion of “radars” are never, in fact, punished.

And the rate is even higher for foreign drivers, with 42 percent of offences picked up by speed cameras not being penalised.

The report by French Senator Vincent Delahaye on the government agency that issues the speeding tickets, ANTAI, revealed that only 70 percent of flashes are followed up by the issuing of a fine and a points penalty. In other words plenty of drivers, are not being punished for putting their foot down too far.

The reason behind the inconsistency is that authorities have difficulty identifying many drivers caught on camera.

Without wanting to give any motorists any bad ideas of course, dirty registration plates are the chief reason authorities often never know who was speeding.

There are also the many motorcyclists who are snapped from the front, but whose plates are on the rear of the bike, and the problem of a number of vehicles being flashed at the same time, without authorities knowing which one was speeding.

And even those fines that are issued do not always end up being paid, according to Delahaye, with 20 percent being disputed, mostly on the grounds that it was someone else driving the car.

The senator also pointed out that companies who own big fleets of cars are also not playing ball when their speeding employees are snapped flouting the law.

“Companies often refuse to stipulate who was driving, so most of the time the company pays the fine but the points are never taken off,” Delahaye said.

However, French authorities have moved to end this anomaly and will link its IT systems to those of company servers, as happens already with car hire firms, so they will know in future who is driving.

Many drivers will have no sympathy for the plight of ANTAI, after it emerged last month that its chief had been using public funds to pay his own speeding fines.

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