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French state coffers boosted by record €1 billion bonanza from speed cameras

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French state coffers boosted by record €1 billion bonanza from speed cameras
Photo: AFP
10:00 CEST+02:00
Automatic speed cameras on French roads are proving a healthy earner for the state with a record one billion euros pulled in over the past year. And the record will likely be broken next year.

There are some 4,600 speed cameras in France and they have never proved more lucrative.

While state accountants will be rubbing their hands with glee, drivers in France will be gnashing their teeth at the news that speed cameras handed out €1.01 billion of fines in 2017.

But the total sum paid out by motorists for all kinds driving offences was even more eye-watering with state coffers boosted by €1.97 in 2017. That's a nine percent rise on 2016.

That's a record haul for the state. But it looks like it won't stay in the record books too long, with 2018 set to bring in even more money.

The data was revealed by state auditors the Cour des Comptes, which also revealed that €438 million of the speed cameras takings was used to pay off state debt.

But the government has no sympathy for drivers who might feel a little aggrieved at how much money the state had pulled in at their expense.

"It's easy enough to respect the speed limits that are in place," sad Emmanuel Barbe the government's road safety tsar. "I'd like to remind drivers that before every speed camera there is a sign warning them of its presence so it's up to each individual to take responsibility".

The Cour des Comptes also noted that number of incidents when furious motorists vented their anger on speed cameras. In total 40 speed cameras were destroyed in 2017 compared to 23 in 2016.

But drivers will have to be even more on their guard in future if they don't want to hand their cash over to the state.

Not only is the government cutting the speed limit on secondary two lane roads from 90km/h to 80 km/h on July 1st - much to the anger of motorist groups - but they are also privatising the legion of speed cameras that will be placed in unmarked cars.

The new cars, operated by private companies, have already rolled out first in Normandy before taking to the roads across the country with the task of snapping drivers over the speed limit.

"All of France will be covered by 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, which is why the ask has been handed over to private companies.
 
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