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Speed cameras in France ‘selected for profit, not to make roads safer’

French drivers’ group claims average-speed cameras are being replaced because they don’t generate enough speeding tickets

French motorists’ association, 40 millions d’automobilistes, say average-speed cameras are most effective at reducing speed Pic: sdecoret / Shutterstock

Road safety authorities are choosing profits over safety by replacing average-speed cameras with different cheaper models, a leading motorists’ association has claimed.

France introduced so-called radars tronçons, which measure average vehicle speed between two points over several kilometres, in 2012.

Now that the first models are beginning to require repairs or replacing, many have been removed and replaced by single cameras that record the speed at a specific point, specialist websites claim.

Read more: MAP: See which areas of France have reinstated a 90km/h speed limit

Average-speed cameras do not make enough money

Motorists’ association 40 millions d’automobilistes has criticised the decision to replace what it considers to be the most effective speed cameras, which are “the most widely accepted” by road users.

Association president Philippe Nozière said: “The drawback is the cost of these machines, for maintenance as well as installation: they are among the most expensive.

“Officially, Sécurité routière [France’s road safety body] justifies their progressive replacement by another type of camera by the lower cost.

“But, in reality, authorities are more concerned about the profitability of these machines: fewer than 5,000 flashes per unit per year on average, compared to 14,000 for an autonomous camera. 

“They simply do not generate enough money through speeding tickets.”

The association said this was proof that speed cameras were “not there to ensure road users’ safety, but to go through drivers’ pockets”.

Read more: We’ll resist a cut in motorway speed limit, say French car activists

Modern cameras check many cars at once

There are only approximately 100 average-speed cameras in France, out of a total of 4,447 –  2,523 of which are fixed-speed cameras. 

These are placed in areas where there is a significant number of accidents.

Some decommissioned average-speed cameras have reportedly been replaced by radars tourelles – modern cameras that were rolled out in France from 2018.

They are placed at a height and can check the speed of dozens of cars in both directions at the same time.

The flash is invisible, making it difficult to know if you have been caught speeding until you receive a fine in the post.

The overall number of speed cameras has remained relatively stable since 2019.

A map of all the country’s speed cameras is available here.

Sécurité routière did not respond to requests for comment.

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