1. Speed camera warning signs are standardised across the country
The French road signs warning drivers about the presence of a speed camera are being gradually standardised, with some types disappearing for good.
These signs have been a feature of French roads since 2003, with the first stating ‘Pour votre sécurité, contrôles automatiques’ (For your safety, automatic checks), and positioned a certain distance away from the camera, depending on the speed of the road.
On motorways, for example, they would sit about 600 metres before, while on 90km/h roads they would be around 400 metres before.
From 2010, new signs appeared displaying the message: ‘Pour votre sécurité, contrôles radars fréquents’ (For your safety, frequent camera checks) along with a new image involving a lorry as well as a car and a motorbike.
This reflected a development which enabled cameras to detect lorries travelling above a speed limit specifically applying to them and not to cars.
These signs were often positioned two to three kilometres ahead of the camera or cameras.
In 2017, another new set of simplified signs was created, without the text and with a reminder of the speed limit or an indication of the distance over which you may encounter a camera.
For several years these four different designs have coexisted, but an operation replacing the two older models means that – most likely by the end of this year – they will be removed for good.
This may be helpful to drivers in that it informs them of the speed limit in the case of doubt. However, the fact that these signs are situated at the beginning of a speed camera zone covering several kilometres means that motorists cannot be sure of where exactly the devices are.
Driver association 40 Millions d’automobilistes has criticised this move, claiming that it is aimed at “ensnaring road users by making signage regarding automatic speed cameras less visible and less frequent.
The group adds that this comes “at the same time as the interior ministry recently revealed that 58% of penalised speeding offences in France relate to limits broken by less than 5km/h,” saying that these instances were “involuntary and do not cause accidents”.
2. 100 new cameras installed in Lyon
The gradual replacement of old speed camera signs comes as Lyon’s city council prepares to install around 100 new radars in urban areas.
Last month, a 30km/h speed limit was applied across much of the city, and the cameras will help police drivers ignoring the change.
A map of all the cameras positioned around Rhône-Alpes can be found here.
3. New camera type could pick up offences other than speeding
A new type of camera which could eventually detect other driving offences apart from speeding has recently received approval in France.
The ‘Parifex Nano’ is currently only used to catch drivers travelling above the speed limit or jumping red lights, but also has the potential to spot motorists failing to respect safe distances, driving the wrong way down a road or ignoring stop signs.
This is because the Nano detector sweeps the space with lasers to create a three dimensional view of vehicles and their trajectories over around 100 metres.
For now, the Nano technology is only being used in ‘double-sided’ cameras which can take a photograph of the front, but also the back, of a vehicle. It is not known when – if ever – the device could be employed to pick up other offences.
4. Calvados speed camera flashes drivers travelling below limit
In Calvados (Normandy), a speed camera on the Caen périphérique has surprised drivers by flashing them even though they were travelling below the 90km/h speed limit.
If you experienced this and were not speeding, there should not be any need to worry. It has since emerged that the device was recalibrating itself at the time, and so some of the flashes it made would not have been linked to the speed of the cars passing by.
Those travelling above the speed limit would still have been caught, but those within the limit should not be affected.
Remember that if you have been flashed by a camera even though you were not speeding and you think the camera could be faulty, you can contest the fine.
However, since 2009, all speed cameras must be checked every two years to make sure that they are still in working order.
These checks are the responsibility of the Société Générale de Surveillance (SGS) and the Laboratoire nationale de métrologie et d’essais (LNE).