UMP MPs have attacked the government’s decision to get rid of signs warning of radar speed controls in a meeting with Prime Minister François Fillon.
Members lined up to denounce the move, taken as part of a series of 18 measures to cut road deaths, saying voters were very unhappy with the plan.
One, Jean-Marc Roubaud, said Mr Fillon was not listening and threatened to quit the UMP if the unpopular measures were not suspended. He was immediately supported by other MPs in the weekly closed-doors meeting, which was taken up “90%” with the unpopularity of the proposals.
MP Bernard Reynès said they were “constantly receiving emails from voters who were very unhappy with the plans” and, just one year before the presidential elections, he added “all their anger is directed at us and it is vital that the government knows this”.
Another MP, Jacques Myard, complained later to broadcaster Europe 1 that the government was lining up the wrong targets: “It’s not speed itself that is to blame, the problem is to know why there are people who drive under the effects of alcohol or after taking drugs. That’s the real debate we should be having.”
Mr Fillon was said by MPs after the meeting to be very nervous and he said the decisions had been “taken with the president of the republic” and that “sometimes in political life we have to be responsible”. He said there was no question of overturning the decision.
He was not applauded at the end of the meeting. He and UMP leader in the assembly Christian Jacob promised a working meeting later with Interior Minister Claude Guéant to explain the reasons for the measures. Mr Jacob told journalists later that many MPs wanted to know why they were challenging an educational measure that had “worked rather well”.
Companies who manufacture radar warning equipment – which is banned under the measures with users facing a €1,500 fine and the loss of six points and manufacturers facing up to two years in prison and a €30,000 fine – have joined forces to oppose the moves.
They say they are illogical and unjust as they are driving aids, pointing out accident blackspots. The firms say that if radar detectors are to be banned then that should apply to mobile phones and social networking sites such as Facebook.
Today they called for the six million users in France to protest to their MPs and the interior ministry and join protests in Paris, Bordeaux, Marseille, Nantes, Lille, Toulouse, Strasbourg, Lyon and Montpellier.
Newspaper website lepoint.fr has pointed out the busiest speed control in France; it is on the A31 at Maxéville, in Meurthe-et-Moselle, which flashes 465 times a day and totalled 169,521 offences. It was followed by a radar on the A8 at Adrets-de-l’Estérel, in the Var, which notched up 123,231 motorists or 338 a day.
Drivers in the Aveyron, Creuse and the Lot have the least chance to be flashed, with Averyron radars flashing just twice a day.
Find the top 20 radar sites in France here at Le Point
Read our story on the new road safety measures: Tougher penalties to cut road deaths
Photo: Simon Coste - Fotolia.com