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Driving in France: Normandy becomes first French region to get privatised speed cameras

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Driving in France: Normandy becomes first French region to get privatised speed cameras
Photo: AFP
10:50 CEST+02:00
The first cars designed to snare speeding drivers in France managed by private companies instead of the French police are set to take to the roads in Normandy on Friday before being rolled out across the rest of France.
French authorities are under pressure to cut speed-related deaths - and plan to roll out more and more speed traps.
 
And one of the ways they're planning to do this is by teaming up with private companies which will take the job of catching speeding motorists off the hands of the police. 
 
The measure will be launched on Friday in the Eure department of the north west region of Normandy and will be rolled out steadily region by region. 
 
 "All of France will be covered mid-2019," said France's road safety department. 
 
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.
 
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How France aims to make its roads safer for drivers and pedestriansPhoto: AFP

The plan is to see the number of cars with installed radars increase to 450 by next year. 
 
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.
 
And where two police (or regional police) officers are currently needed for the job, private firms will only need one person. 
 
These unmarked cars will be difficult to identify by motorists. On board, a driver alone, an employee of a private company, will conduct a "tour" whose itinerary will be fixed by the prefecture. This new car loaded with sensors will be able to read only the speed signs.
 
However 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. 
 
Motorists' groups in France have said the plan could see a tenfold increase in speeding tickets. 
 
'Privatization does not work'
 
Some drivers' associations have criticised the outsourcing of road speed controls. 
 
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 head of 40 Million Motorists, Pierre Chasseray told Franceinfo that even if these vehicles are under the control of the state, "privatization does not work". 
 
However 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.
 
French driver faces prison for giving middle finger to speed cameras
Photo: AFP
 
And France's Interior Minister Gerard Collomb told the French press on Monday that the French "should rejoice" because outsourcing speed controls to private companies means there will be more policeman on the streets to protect them.  
 
Collomb has previously said that he wants to redeploy policemen and gendarmes formerly involved in traffic control to other security tasks.
 
Road mortality in France
 
France has a sorry record for the number of fatal accidents that occur on its roads, with the death toll in 2016 reaching 3,469.
 
The Local has previously reported that France's road mortality rate increased in 2015 for the second year in a row, something the country hadn't seen for 35 years.
 
The former interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, said previously that one of the primary reasons for the higher toll was an increase in road traffic but also drivers taking risks. 
 
"The rise also reflects an increase in risky behaviour that can lead to serious accident fatalities," he said. 
 
The former minister also said French drivers were "too relaxed" when it came to following the road rules, and that many motorists continued to drive "at excessive speed".
 
A study in April 2015 from BVA found that 75 percent of French people acknowledged that they don't always stick to the speed limit. 
 
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Daniela - 22 Apr 2018 22:08
I agree with the comment about issuing more speeding tickets does not nesessarily increase road safety. However, I do understand something has to be done. Why doesn't France have a point system like the UK? Surely just the thought of having your license taken away from you for (what is it?) two years, would be enough to make people drive slower?
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