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

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.

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

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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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.