Radar detectors may be swamped

Danger alerts could go off constantly

Prefects told to come up with a new list of "danger zones" which could make drivers' aids useless

RADAR detectors could soon become useless annoyances for drivers after prefects were instructed to vastly increase the number of "danger zones" that they are now signalling.

Used by six million drivers in France, detectors are now supposed to warn of dangerous roads to comply with the government's ban on radar detectors. However, Le Parisien says it has seen documentation that prefects have been told to create a new list of "danger zones" with 10 times the number of alerts.

That would mean detectors going off every time there was a significant change in road conditions: for example, a 70kph section of road where the rest is 90kph.

The newspaper said a department with 25 speed cameras would have 250 "danger zones" - with only one in 10 containing a speed trap.

From November 28 drivers were supposed to recalibrate their detectors - if possible - by connecting them to their internet-enabled computer to download new "danger zone" maps. Once done, the detectors would no longer signal the exact location of speed traps, merely danger zones covering 4km on a motorway, 2km on country roads and 300m in built-up areas.

However, many cheaper detectors with preloaded maps either do not accept updates or are never updated as drivers have not paid the extra. In addition detectors from high-end manufacturers Garmin and Tom Tom are unchanged as they have not been involved in the discussions with the government.

The new instructions to prefects suggests that wherever there is a warning sign on the road this should be considered a danger zone - and there are 28 such signs in the Code le la Route. This new list will be published in the middle of this month.

Thierry Latger, of the highway and utility engineers union Snitpect-FO, told the newspaper that prefects had been given "absurd" criteria to work with and had not been given enough time to compile a proper list of the roads with real dangers. Road safety was not the motive, he said, just camouflaging the position of speed cameras.

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