First private speed radar cars hit French streets

Motorists' association launches legal bid to stop roll-out of privatised unmarked cars equipped with speed radar

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Road safety should not be a matter for private companies, a drivers' association has said on the day the first privatised speed patrol vehicles were due to hit the roads.

The first privatised unmarked cars equipped with automatic speed radar were due to take to the streets of Evreux in Normandy on Friday.

The scheme, which was unveiled in February 2017, is intended to free up police and gendarmes, and could mean up to 10 times as many tickets will be issued. Drivers’ groups say that the extra fines revenue could be worth €2.2billion.

The group 40 millions d'automobilistes said road safety and security is a job for law enforcement agencies, not private companies and has filed a complaint against the introduction of privatised radar vehicles at the Conseil d'Etat.

"The debate goes far beyond whether we are for or against radar," spokesman Pierre Chasseray said. "Privatisation does not work."

Other commentators have argued that taking police officers off the roads means vehicles with false plates will not be stopped and that other offences may also be ignored – such as driving without a seatbelt or while using a mobile phone.

Officials have previously said that the speed control unit, camera and software in the privatised vehicles is automated and the driver will not be able to affect its operation.

The private unmarked speed cars will be on the streets for a least six hours a day, compared to the average of 1hr 15mins for police-driven vehicles. Officials deny motorists' associations claims that the increase in hours is intended solely to drive up revenue for the State.

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