POLICE in unmarked cars are to test new-generation speed radars that are claimed to be able to monitor the speed of several vehicles at once.
The interior ministry has asked manufacturers for light, easily mounted units that can be fitted to unmarked police vehicles and even motorcycles.
Motoring magazine Auto Plus says the new generation units will go on trial in the next months. It said the units cannot be detected by speed camera detectors.
Details of how they operate are not yet known, but the magazine said it had been told that three systems would be tried out over six months and the best would be sent to the national testing labs LNE.
The ministry said that the technology was new and its effectiveness and reliability had yet to be verified. They would be able to work in all weathers and across several lanes of traffic.
Auto Plus said the units would be fitted in unmarked vehicles on normal roads and would initially check vehicles travelling in the same direction, but other systems are being developed that will also work on the traffic on the other side of the road, and even distinguish between cars and lorries.
Road safety organisations have welcomed the project, with Chantal Perrichon, of the Ligue Contre la Violence RoutiÃ¨re, saying they had been waiting for these radars to be introduced since 2006. Others have also called for speed limiters to be fitted to cars so that they could not exceed the speed limit.
Plans to extend the speed camera network were revealed by former interior minister Brice Hortefeux just before he lost his job in the last government reshuffle. They are aimed to help reach President Sarkozy's 2007 election pledge of fewer than 3,000 deaths on the road in 2012.
Last year 3,994 people died in road accidents across France.
Mr Hortefeux said that there would be 1,000 new radars in use before the end of 2012, including 100 average speed cameras.
Photo: GND Fontaine