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Speed cameras: fines for braking are ‘unworkable’ in French law

Radars that catch drivers braking sharply before the camera could not lead to fines - motoring lawyer explains why

Driving car in France

‘It is completely understandable a driver would brake to avoid breaking the law’ says French lawyer Pic: Hadrian / Shutterstock

Police in Spain are testing a new type of speed camera that can detect drivers who brake heavily just before they reach the camera zone and then speed up again once past.

These drivers can save themselves a fine but are a collision risk for other road users as they brake suddenly.

The new radars mean drivers could be fined for ‘braking’ and not for ‘speeding’.

Cannot fine driver for complying with speed limit

Lawyer Rémy Josseaume, a motoring law specialist, told The Connexion he felt it unlikely the new cameras would be introduced in France. 

He said: “How would you write a law to stop someone stopping themselves from breaking the law?

“It’s farcical to charge someone who legally avoids breaking the law when nearing a radar check. There’s no law against braking and it’s completely understandable a driver would brake to avoid breaking the law.

“The application of this in French law seems complicated.”

He agreed that if police sited a mobile control where a driver would still be at speed, then “it is just another speed camera”.

Spanish clamp down on braking then speeding up

The new cameras in Spain come in two types: anti-braking and cascade. 

For the first type, a mobile camera is installed just before the fixed camera and will catch drivers who, even if braking, are still speeding.

The cascade radars are similar, but in reverse, with a mobile camera sited just after the fixed one to catch drivers who speed up again. 

Cyclist deaths have risen

Speed cameras were first used in France just under 20 years ago and, although decried by many road users as just money machines for the government, they are now part of the scenery that have helped cut speeding.

Road deaths have also fallen – with 2,944 in 2021, down 9% from the pre-Covid year of 2019. 

All categories of road users saw fewer deaths, except for cyclists, where they rose 21% to 227 – and users of new electric trottinette scooters, where deaths doubled to 21.

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