Tough new radars brought in as 80kph limit is eased

Some speed cameras damaged or destroyed by gilets jaunes protestors are to be replaced this year by new, more powerful radars tourelles.

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They can track more than 100 vehicles on both sides of a four-lane motorway.

They are intended to reinforce government road safety measures and, with the towers being 4m high, avert future attack.

However, one controversial measure – cutting the national speed limit to 80kph – is being softened with departments and mayors being allowed to return to the previous 90kph limit.

The move comes as the number of road deaths fell in 2018 for the first time in four years, to its lowest level ever of 3,488, with 196 fewer fatalities.

This included six months of the new 80kph speed limit on ordinary roads but it was not credited for any of the change.

The interior minister said 75% of fixed radars had been damaged in gilets jaunes attacks and were being replaced by French-made radars tourelles with capacities to detect speeding plus red-light offences. Usage for other offences, such as tailgating, white-line crossing and use of phones while driving is being tested.

Several have already been installed in Allier, Bouches-du-Rhône, Côte d’Or, Gironde, Landes, Moselle, Nord, Puy-de-Dôme, Bas-Rhin, Rhône, Seine-et-Marne, Yvelines and Vosges.

The ministry said 400 would be fitted by the end of this year, with others in the 3,000 “fixed sites” replaced in 2020.

France has set a limit of 4,700 speed cameras but 6,000 tourelles will be set up, containing 1,200 active units on a rotation.

The ministry told Connexion the aim was to extend the effectiveness of fixed radars and stop drivers slowing down then speeding after a camera.

A test of unmarked radar cars in Normandy is also being extended into Brittany, Centre-Val de Loire and Pays de la Loire (see Editor’s note page 16).

Although damaged radars will have reduced revenue from fines, the government is also set to face legal challenges following the return to an 90kph limit.

Motoring lawyer Rémy Josseaume said penalty notices could be challenged under the rule of an automatic application of the re-established limit (90kph) to ongoing cases.

However the min­istry denied this It said offenders broke the law as it stood and this view has been upheld in court appeals.

Me Josseaume said drivers could contest fine notices to avoid losing licence points but would still have to pay a fine.

So far, 48 departments will revert to 90kph but only on secondary roads, not routes nationales, so a small fraction of the 400,000km of 80kph roads. You can find a list on our website.

In other safety moves, government MPs are backing a plan to ban Sat Nav firms Waze, Coyote and TomTom from giving warnings of police road controls in terrorist incidents.

A new insurance database will target the 750,000 uninsured drivers on the roads, with police checking number plates for offenders, who face a €3,750 fine and confiscation of the vehicle.

See more:

UK speeders sent fines

Speed limiters on way

Unmarked radar cars