Drivers in France beware: Private firms to take over fight against speedsters

Police are to enlist the help of private companies who will be far more dedicated to the cause of cracking down on speeding drivers.

Drivers in France beware: Private firms to take over fight against speedsters
All photos: AFP
French authorities are under pressure to cut speed-related deaths – and plan to roll out more and more speed traps.
But don't expect to see more police cars parked by the roadside. 
No, authorities are going to team up with private firms from September, as reported previously by The Local following a trial run in northern Normandy. 
And these firms will be much more eager to catching speeding drivers than the police were.
So what actually changes?
Currently, French police have mobile speed cameras concealed in 383 unmarked cars, which are responsible for snaring around 1.5 million cars a year. 
But a lack of resources means the police cars with mobile cameras are only in use for an average of one hour a day.

The plan is to see the number of cars with installed radars increase to 450 by next year, the paper reported. 

Bringing in private firms will mean there there is more possibility for the cars to be out on the roads for much longer, and it's estimated that they will be on the roads for around eight hours at a time on average.
The private firms will only be allowed on roads that are pre-determined by police, and won't have access to information about which vehicles have been caught speeding. 
The new cameras will be looking out for anyone going 10km/hr above the speed limit in zones where the speed limit is under 100km/hr, and will snare people going ten percent above the speed limit in zones where the limit is above 100km/hr. 
Police won't be involved in the camera work at all from September. And where two police (or regional police) officers are currently needed for the job, private firms will only need one person. 
Motorists' groups in France have said the plan could see a tenfold increase in speeding tickets. 
The group 40 Million Motorists were behind a poll carried out last month that showed that 78 percent of French people were against the privatized radars, with 80 percent saying they thought such matters should be strictly police work. 
They argue that additional speeding tickets does nothing to increase road safety and will just be a money making exercise at the great expense of drivers.

The government's road safety tsar Emmanuel Barbe has insisted in the past that while private companies would run the mobile cameras, the analysis and handling of all contraventions will be handled by police.
The government is under pressure to cut down on road deaths, and announced last year thousands of fake speed cameras would be installed to try and deter motorists.
France saw 3,469 people killed from road accidents in 2016, an increase of 0.2 percent from the previous year, which authorities put down to “risky behaviour”.

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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.