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No speeding fines, yet, for UK drivers

French speed camera fines soared 18.5% in 2016 to bring in €920million for the state with a large part of the increase due to a rise in the number of cameras but also because of a 40% rise in fines issued to foreign vehicles.

A European road safety directive allows foreign drivers to be fined for offences in another EU country with notices sent to their home addresses. France sent 2.86m penalty notices to nine countries in 2016.

This year has already seen a sharp rise again in the number of fines – more Belgian drivers were fined in the first seven months of 2017 than in the whole of 2016, for example – and since May 7 British drivers may also be fined.

The UK, along with Ireland and Denmark, was given a two-year exemption to comply with the directive but while this has ended and UK-registered vehicles have been flashed no penalty notices have yet been sent.

The Antai fines centre in Rennes said that it was working with British authorities to start the exchange of information – and that could mean fines starting to be sent to up to 60,000 drivers in the UK. Antai said 237,000 UK drivers were flashed between August 2016 and July 2017, meaning a possible 60,000 from May 7 to the end of August. It has a year to send penalty notices with fines of up to €640.

Some Britons have already received penalties after being flashed in hire cars, as the rental firm passes on their details.

Groups such as the RAC and AA advise drivers to pay fines as the penalty stays on their record and they face an increased fine if it is not paid.

The Sécurité Routière said police would make drivers pay any unpaid fines.

In all, about one in five vehicles flashed in France is foreign and this soars in summer to reach one in two near borders.

Belgian drivers get the most tickets: 446,161 in 2016, followed by Spanish drivers on 406,669, German on 386,287 and Italians on 287,299.

In all, speed cameras flashed a total of 25.6m times in 2016 – up 26% on 2015 – but checks by police officers at Antai cut this to 16m penalty notices sent out.

The Interior Ministry said cameras protecting roadworks sites, two-way cameras and car- mounted units had made a big difference and last year saw 181 new movable cameras being installed, flashing 3.5m times. Similarly, two-way cameras also saw a rise, with 2.5m flashes.

A movable radar protecting roadworks near Montpellier on the A9 flashed 411,352 times but a fixed radar on the A9 between Nîmes and Béziers was the No1 ‘normal’ camera, flashing 159,520 times.

France will next year fit new ‘super radars,’ taller and slimmer than present units that will check 32 vehicles simultaneously across eight carriageways at up to 300kph and adapted for lorries, cars and two-wheelers.

Called Mesta Fusion, one is on test in the Paris area, and can pick up tailgating, drivers without seatbelts or using a phone.

Later this year France also aims to set up a ‘virtual driving licence’ scheme for visiting foreign drivers. It means repeat offenders could be identified and, if they lose all 12 points on the ‘licence’, could face being banned from French roads.

The UK has also changed its penalty system and anyone driving at 51mph or above in a 30mph zone could face a fine of 150% of their weekly income, six points or a 56-day ban.

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