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Speed traps save lives - Minister

Drivers’ group claims 72 radars are sited just to levy fines but Valls cites ‘66% fewer deaths’

CLAIMS that France has dozens of speed cameras sited just to “trap” drivers and fleece them of fines have been rejected by Interior Minister Manuel Valls who said “safety was the priority” and that there were “66% fewer deaths in radar zones”.

He was speaking after drivers’ group 40 Millions d’Automobilistes drew up a map of 72 “traps” which were sited only to levy fines.

They said the radars were sited at the bottom of hills, on zones where speed limits were different depending on direction of travel, on motorways where speed limits changed from 110kph to 90kph depending on the time of day. They also cited one motorway radar that flashed vehicles travelling faster than 50kph.

Valls hit back saying he would “not drop my guard” and that “speed limits had just one aim: that of saving lives”.

Last year, speed was implicated in a quarter of fatal accidents, although alcohol was named as the No1 cause of road deaths. Last year, too, speed cameras raised €730 million in fines – an increase from 2005 when the total was €200m.

Road safety agency Sécurité Routière said cameras had helped cut the average speed on French roads from 90kph in 2004 to 80kph today. This had also meant road deaths fell from 8,000 in 2002 to less than 4,000 today.

Agency director Frédéric Péchenard compared the radar controversy to the launch in the 1970s of the law enforcing use of seat-belts and said that speed cameras alone had saved 36,000 lives since they were introduced.

A recent survey for the Fondation Vinci showed that 90% of drivers admitted regularly going over the speed limit.

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