Speed camera fines soar but road deaths keep rising

Gendarme with binocular speed camera
A gendarme uses a mobile speed camera unit

Drivers and safety groups say money should be spent on road safety

Drivers’ groups have accused the government of using speed cameras to line its pockets as figures have shown fine revenue soaring 14% since 2013 but road deaths – the reason given for the rise in ‘radars’ – have also risen, by 6%.

The Cour des Comptes national auditors said state revenues from speed camera fines rose 11.6% last year alone, pulling in an extra €131million more than in 2015 to make a total of €920m.

Overall road and parking fine revenue was double this, with the government pulling in €1.8billion, up from €1.6bn in 2016.

Meanwhile, road deaths rose for the third year in a row, to nearly 3,500.

The Cour des Comptes said that while this was a “positive result for the state budget” the effectiveness of speed cameras in cutting road speeds and thus deaths should be examined.

It also pointed out that more than 50% of the money raised was not being spent on its main target, road safety. Of this, €51m went to local authorities and €45m to pay off state debts.

Pierre Chasseray, of drivers’ group 40 Millions d'Automobilistes, told Le Parisien: “From the minute we see speed camera fines revenue being used to pay off state debts we can start to see fines as a tax.”

Chantal Perrichon, of the Ligue Contre la Violence Routière, said there needed to be “much greater transparency” on how fines revenue was spent so that they would not be seen as a “disguised tax”. Every centime raised from speed camera revenue should be spent on road safety measures.

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