According to the French Minister of the Interior, Christophe Castaner, these acts of destruction are directly linked to the increase in road deaths recorded in January.
Until now, the government had indicated that “more than half” of the radars in France have been damaged. But, on France 2 television station this Friday, Castaner put forward an even more worrying figure. He claimed “approximately 75 percent of the radars have been either destroyed, deteriorated, attacked or put out of action”.
When asked whether the recent increase in road deaths was due to these acts of vandalism, the Minister of the Interior stated that “yes, there is a direct link”.
“There are radars that are hidden. They do not take photographs, there don’t record minutes, but they continue to record the speed. In December, on average, there were four times more violations on a masked radar when it is operating,” said Christophe Castaner. “A 400 percent increase, and in the end people die.”
In January, 238 people died on French roads, an increase of nine deaths compared to January 2018 when 229 people were killed, the Road Safety Authority reported. And there are also significant financial repercussions for the state.
“We estimate 500 million euros in losses (due to lack of fines) and 50 million euros in repair costs,” Valérie Rabault, a Socialist member of parliament and a former parliamentary budget rapporteur, told Le Parisien newspaper.
The methods of destruction range from covering speed cameras in paint to wrapping them in clingfilm or in rubbish bags to prevent the camera from working.
The vandalism had already begun last summer when the speed limit on most country roads was reduced to 80 km per hour, but it escalated when the “yellow vest” protests kicked off in late November and quickly sent the costs for the state spiralling.
Vandalising a speed camera is considered a crime in France which can see culprits handed anything from up to seven years in prison sentence to up to €100,000 in fines.
It was only in January that the government was celebrating a drop in road deaths to a historic low.