Hundreds of urban speed cameras are to be activated in France and will start issuing fines from January 16.
Up to 700 of the discreet cameras, or radars urbains, were installed throughout France in 2023 but until now they were all only used as decoys and were simply empty cases without cameras.
The technology that goes inside the case is mobile, meaning that the authorities can deploy it where they want.
This is seen as a strategy to counter apps such as Waze that tell drivers how to avoid speed cameras.
On January 16, up to 200 of the 700 radars will be activated and start issuing fines for speeding and red light infractions.
They are smaller, with more functions than the older fixed speed cameras, and can look in both directions when the road allows it.
The authorities can also position them behind road signs, effectively concealing them.
However, the presence of these cameras must still be displayed by a road sign.
In theory, they could also be used to issue fines for other infractions, such as cars driving in the cycle lane or non-respect of a no-turn sign.
It is not known where the first batch of cameras will be deployed, however news outlet RMC reports that they will be activated in Belfort, Marseille and Toulouse.
Can the new urban speed cameras check Crit’air car pollution stickers?
Neither of the manufacturers of the two new models of urban speed cameras claim that their camera can check Crit’air stickers, a pollution rating sticker that drivers must display to enter certain towns and cities.
A Crit’air spokesperson confirmed to The Connexion that no cameras are used to detect driver’s Crit’air stickers yet.
Read more: A guide to Crit’Air stickers in France
Only the Police Nationale, Gendarmerie or Police municipale can issue fines to drivers who display the incorrect Crit’air sticker.
Paris police fine thousands of drivers each year, however, elsewhere, in Montpellier for instance, drivers will only be issued a warning for an incorrect Crit’air sticker until August 2024.
It is highly likely that cameras will be fitted to check drivers’ Crit’air stickers in some towns in 2024. Crit’air said that this would be a matter for local prefectures.
However, some prefectures might judge the task of checking automatic photographs of Crit’air stickers (in order to issue fines) to be too labour intensive a task.
How many speed cameras are there in France?
In 2021, France’s 4,422 cameras resulted in 14.69 million fines bringing in a total of €859m.
At present, there are around 5,600 cameras.
However, there is a deep seated mistrust of their role as a road safety tool, and a widespread opinion that speed cameras are simply a way for the state to raise money.
One indicator of the French public’s relationship with speed cameras is the fact that 75% of them were damaged or destroyed by the gilets jaunes in 2019.