Speeding tickets to soar as radar cars to be privatised

Speed camera warning sign France blue sky
Privatised unmarked radar cars will only operate on roads with speed control signs

New bid to cut road deaths will see unmarked cars being used eight hours a day

The number of speeding tickets issued could be set to soar as the government is privatising its fleet of unmarked radar cars.

Aimed to free up police and gendarmes, the move will mean up to 10 times more tickets… while drivers’ groups say that the extra fines revenue could be worth €2.2billion.

With 3,469 killed on the roads last year, the government wants to cut speeding and has asked private companies to bid for a contract to drive its radars embarqués cars. Tests are already underway in Normandy where the new automatic radars are being certified.

Interior Minister Bruno le Roux said he wants the system certified and ready to run nationwide by September with the first speeding tickets being issued then.

Unmarked radar cars are virtually undetectable on the road – the only exterior sign is a small oblong unit under the number plate, while the cars being used at present also have a large camera box on the dashboard. The police officers driving them will also be in uniform.

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Vehicles with the new system will have the speed control unit, camera and software completely automated and the private driver will have no way to affect its operation.

Sannois autoroute motorway in France A15 moderate traffic
Unmarked speed control cars will be used on main roads and will catch more speeding offenders

Mr Le Roux said the company chosen to run the fleet of 425 cars will not be paid on a performance basis or how many drivers are caught. Drivers will also not be free to driver wherever they wish and will follow a GPS route set by the prefecture.

Radar cars will be used to ‘police’ major routes and accident blackspots and especially those where dummy speed cameras and warning signs have been erected.

At the moment the fleet of radar cars is expensive to operate both as vehicles but as they tie up two police officers and Emmanuel Barbe, of Sécurité Routière, said there were better ways to use two highly-trained officers.

On average, each car is used for just an hour a day but the privatised cars will run for eight hours a day and drivers’ groups such as 40 Millions d'automobilistes say that boosting the revenue from fines is the main reason for the move. 

Other commentators have said that taking police officers off the roads means that vehicles with false plates will not be stopped and that other offences may also be ignored – such as driving without a seatbelt or using a mobile phone at speed.

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