Driving fine bonanza as France increases number of speed cameras

More than €2bn taken in 2023, says government report

Three-way split image of tourelle and radar chantier speed cameras, and a French speed camera road sign
The number of both the new tourelle and the older semi-mobile radar chantier speed cameras increased in 2023
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Driving fines earned more money than ever before in France in 2023 with a record €2 billion pouring into state coffers, half of which came thanks to automatic speed cameras, according to a report by France's national auditor.

“More automatic speed cameras are now deployed than at any time since their creation”, states the special report by the Cour des Comptes, issued in April. “There were 4,661 devices at the end of 2023 against 4,530 in 2022”.

Direct fines from these cameras amounted to €747million. However, when late payment and penalty charges are taken into account, this figure rises to more than €1billion.

Another €1billion came from police fines, including for parking offences, bringing the state’s total windfall from driving fines to just over €2billion, surpassing the record set in 2017 (€1.9billion).

Read more: How can I check if speeding fines were sent to my French second home? 


While 2017 set the previous record for the money brought in from driving fines, the level declined in subsequent years, due both to the Covid-19 lockdowns and to the gilets jaunes, or yellow vest protesters, who relished in destroying speed cameras. 

In 2018 and 2019, vandalism against speed cameras cost the state €33m and €36m. 

The cost of vandalism in 2023 was €19.6m, states the Cour des Comptes report, which points to a spike in repairs needed on its radars chantiers and tourelles during “the period of the debates on pension reform”. 

More speed cameras than ever

There have been around 4,700 speed cameras in France since 2021 - at least in theory. The real number has fluctuated as the older cameras are withdrawn and replaced with newer models.

Read more: New smaller urban speed radars begin operation around France 

In 2022, 96% of the theoretical 4,700 speed cameras were considered operational, which increased to 99% in 2023. 

Only around 3,800 of these cameras are in continuous use. The rest are either moved around or only used when the roads are particularly busy.

Many of the speed cameras being withdrawn are the older radar fixe, which are replaced by both the radar tourelles and the semi-mobile radars chantiers. A total of 240 of these new cameras were fitted in 2023.

An interactive map of French speed camera locations is available here.

“Road safety in France essentially means speed cameras,” the spokesperson for drivers’ rights group La Ligue de Défense des Conducteurs, Alexandra Legendre told The Connexion. “There is little political desire for much more than that.

“Of course, for real improvement they would need to pay for more police officers, more road markings and better infrastructure, but they would rather just use automatic speed cameras and blame drivers for going too fast”.

The impact of speed cameras on actual road deaths is debatable: the number of people killed on French roads has remained stable for the past ten years despite the increase in the number and effectiveness of cameras.

Read more: Explainer: Speed cameras, fines and driving licence points in France 

Towards a decline in speed fines?

The Cour de Comptes report concludes with speculation that policies related to climate change may contribute to a decline in driving fines in the coming years.

“Factors associated with climate change and associated policies could lead people to limit their use of cars,” states the report. 

This refers to the government push towards a low-carbon economy, including Crit’air stickers in cities, the ban on petrol and diesel cars in 2035 and the expansion of the high speed rail network.