Unmarked radar cars to quadruple in France by end of 2020

The number of patrolling unmarked radar cars currently used by the police and private firms under contract is set to rise significantly next year

16 November 2020
By Brian McCulloch

Numbers of unmarked private radar cars patrolling French roads are to quadruple by the end of this year.

So far, about 40 cars have been on test in Normandy and Brittany but tenders are out for another 140 cars which flash speeders on the move and automatically notify the fine centre.

Tests started in Normandy in 2018 and then Brittany and Centre-Val de Loire from early this year. The scheme will soon cover nearly two-thirds of the country with cars in Grand-Est, Bourgogne- Franche-Comté, Hauts-de-France and Nouvelle Aquitaine.

Today there are about 400 radar cars

Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said 362 are used by gendarmes and police and the rest run by private firms under contract.

A ministry spokesman confirmed to Connexion that plans to extend the private cars scheme to the new regions were still on course.

“We are at the stage where a tender has gone out to companies which might be interested in running the service. The procedure to have private services run the cars in the new regions is well advanced.”

The ministry later clarified that it will start in the new regions by the end of November.

A report on their efficiency is being prepared, but there is no timetable for its publication yet.

Media reports said early results from Brittany showed much lower numbers of speeders caught by private radar cars than by those used by gendarmes or police.

This was attributed to the fact that private cars can only record offences while being driven, but police and gendarmes can park beside known speeding black spots and still catch offenders.

Confirming that private radar cars can only operate in the flow of traffic, the ministry spokesman added: “Although they represent just under 10% of the fleet of radar cars, they have been responsible for a third of the hours of radar-car speed control, as each is used for five-and-a-half hours a day.”

In 2019, the 400 cars notified 1,211,026 speeding offences to the control centre, with 876,990 fines issued.

Where fines were not imposed, it was usually due to the lack of a clear picture of the offender’s number plate.

Lockdown saw numbers fall. Between January and mid-April, 264,743 offences were reported and 137,504 fines issued.

Cars used in the controls are intended to be inconspicuous.

Magazine AutoPlus identified Renault Mégane, Dacia Sandero, Citroën Berlingo, Peugeot 208, 308 or 508 models as common, along with Ford Focus, Seat Leon, VW Passat and Golf 7.

The cars have a black opaque square below the front number plate, a large black object on the dashboard, and possibly camera lenses visible on windscreen pillars and boot lids.

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