The number of private speed radar cars operating on roads in France is increasing, with some regions having more of them than others. We look at where these cars are currently in use and where their number is set to increase.
As of December 31, 2022, there were 223 such vehicles in service, after the cars were first introduced in 2018. This is set to rise to 450 in the next few years.
What are speed radar cars?
Speed camera cars (voitures-radar) have cameras and other tools to track speed on board, although they tend to be discreet and difficult to spot. Private cars belong to private companies that have been authorised by the government to track vehicle speeds.
They tend to travel on roads with speed limits of 80-90km/h, although they are permitted on all roads.
They travel on pre-set routes and check vehicle speeds from the traffic lanes themselves. Unlike speed cameras, they tend to pass by unnoticed and their camera ‘flashes’ are invisible. This can often lead to drivers receiving speeding tickets without being aware that they were ‘flashed’ or where.
The private companies and drivers are paid a set amount, and do not receive extra or commission linked to the number of cars they ‘flash’.
Where are the cars currently?
The cars are currently driving in eight regions: Normandy, Brittany, Pays-de-la-Loire, Centre-Val-de-Loire, Grand-Est, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté and Hauts-de-France.
In the rest of the country, vehicles from security forces check speed but these are slowly being replaced by private companies in a bid to free up the forces for more specialised tasks.
Where are the cars increasing the most?
Private cars are becoming more common in Ile-de-France, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur and Occitanie.
Their numbers are set to almost double in the next few years across the country.
Which cars are radar vehicles, and can you spot them?
Nine types of vehicle are currently used: the Ford Mondeo, the Citroën Berlingo, the Peugeot 508 and 308, the Volkswagen Passat 7 and 8, the Seat Leon, the Skoda Octavia and the Golf.
The radar equipment is discreet but you can spot the cars if you look carefully. The front number plate is usually written in a different font to a typical car, and the plates also have a reflective edge.
They also have an infrared sensor on the dashboard, which can sometimes display flashing LED lights visible through the car’s windows and the cars often have tinted back windows.
What are the fines issued by these private cars for speeding?
Fines vary according to how much over the speed limit the driver is going at.
They start at €68 and a point deduction for being less than 20km/h over the limit, to up to €1,500 and a three-year ban for drivers who are more than 50km/h over the speed limit.
How likely am I to be caught by a private radar car?
Their numbers are increasing but private and public speed cameras are still rare. You are still far more likely to be caught by a ‘regular’ speed camera.
In 2022 in France, they accounted for just under 9% of the 4,422 speed cameras in service, and 5.9% of speeding tickets issued.