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France's speed cameras see earnings plummet

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France's speed cameras see earnings plummet
France's 4,150 speed cameras have not earnt as much as the goverment had hoped. Photo: Shutterstock
12:32 CEST+02:00
France's army of roadside speed cameras may be more numerous than ever but the revenue they pulled in through fines was almost 70 million less than the government expected last year.

While motorists in France might be smiling on Wednesday, after the release of new data, the government certainly won't be.

French newspaper Les Echos reported that the 4,150 speed cameras that litter the country's roads yielded €579 million last year.

While that sounds a healthy amount to be taking out of the pockets of speeding motorists, it was less than in 2012, when rogue drivers boosted state coffers to the tune of €620 million.

It's the first time in ten years that the takings from speed cameras have decreased.

What makes it worse for the government, whose finances seem to be Europe's biggest worry right now, is that authorities had expected to pull in €647 million.

So why, despite France having more speed cameras than ever including hundreds of new mobile detectors, have the takings gone down?

One reason given was the fact that 14 percent of the cameras were out of service last year, a problem that was not helped by the arrival of a new provider, whose job it is maintain them.

Sabotage is also to blame. Last year's violent “Bonnet Rouges” protests against the controversial eco tax saw around 220 cameras destroyed in acts of vandalism.

“These events led to a decline in the number of fines given out and therefore the revenue,” concluded France's state accountants the Cour des Comptes.

The agency that processes the fines also reported that many of the infractions were not paid.

And what about motorists in France are they just slowing down?

According to the auditors there is no evidence that a drop in the average driving speed has contributed to the loss of revenue.

Instead the Cour des Comptes highlights technical problems with the cameras in working out the speed as well as an increase in the number of signs warning motorists of the presence of speed cameras.

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