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Speed cameras bring in €630m

The interior minister unveiled camera fine and road accident figures, as a ban on camera warning devices comes in

SPEED camera fines generated €630 million in 2011, the latest figures show.

The announcement was made by Interior Minister Claude Guéant, who also gave road accident figures and rounded up new road safety rules. It comes as a ban on electronic equipment for warning drivers of cameras comes into force.

The equipment, now being called “driving assistance systems”, is supposed from now on to be programmed to warn of dangerous areas, not of cameras. Officials in around half of departments have so far passed on data to manufacturers.

So as to answer claims that cameras are just a cash cow for the government, the Interior Ministry says it will now send out letters to anyone who is flashed, explaining where their fine money will go – part goes for the maintenance of cameras and installation of new ones, part goes to local councils’ road safety schemes and part goes to a national agency financing transport infrastructure.

Rules on the radar alert devices have been clarified – new ones sold in France will in the future have to be certified suitable by the government. In fact police do not have powers to check on software on the old ones or on smartphones, however, in theory people who have these should not activate camera-checking functions. The government says in any case, they will eventually become obsolete if they are not updated.

Road accident figures were similar to last year’s with 3,970 people killed, compared to 3,992 in 2010. Mr Guéant said this compared to 8,000 10 years ago. He said a target of 3,000 set by Nicolas Sarkozy at the start of his presidency was “still attainable”. The number of people injured and hospitalised was down 6% on 2010.

Mr Guéant said breath test kits in cars would be obligatory by March 31 - though this could be put back if it turns out not enough kits are available.

In a few months the government is also to announce whether or not it will officially make it legal for motorbikes to drive up between rows of traffic. Legalisation of this in Belgium has reportedly not caused any increase in accidents.

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