France: Government guarantees firms won't make profit from private speed radars

France: Government guarantees firms won't make profit from private speed radars
Copyright Reuters
By Cristina Abellan Matamoros
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As the French government rolls out the first set of private speed radars in Normandy, it reassures the public that firms won't be making a profit from speeding drivers.


France has decided to privatise speeding cameras but they’ve assured the public the private firms won't make money at the expense of drivers.

Cars with the new radar technology will be rolled out in Normandy next week while the rest of the country will be covered by 2019, France's road safety department said.

According to a press statement, the decision to privatise speed cameras is meant to free up police to work in other tasks and to have radars out for longer periods of time.

Due to a lack of resources, police cars with speed cameras could only be used for an average of one hour a day, which was not "useful because drivers learnt where the radars were and they knew when to slow down," said Emmanuel Barbe, interdepartmental delegate to road safety, according to local newspaper Paris-Normandie. It is estimated the new cars will be able to stay out an average of eight hours a day.

The new technology automatically detects cars going above the speed limit, so where two police officers were needed to do the job, private firms will only need one person. Additionally, the new cars are loaded with sensors in the front and back that are only able to detect speed signs.

The new cameras will be looking for anyone going over 10km/hour above the speed limit in places where the limit is under 100km/hour and people going 10% faster where the limit is above 100km/hour.

The road safety department said that the employee of the private company driving the car will not be paid according to the number of speeding tickets given out by the speed cameras — nor will they receive any sort of bonus.

According to their contract with the government, private firms will only be allowed to drive on roads pre-determined by the police, have to respect an itinerary drawn out by the prefecture, and have no access to how many or which vehicles were caught speeding.

"The private employee will have a pre-fixed number of kilometres they have to drive during their shift. If they do less, their salary will be reduced and if they do more they will have to pay a large penalty. But there won't be any profit-sharing from fines," said the statement.

"The drivers' mission is to drive the vehicle on the route set out by the government," a spokesman for the road safety department told Euronews.

The company chosen to drive the new radars in Normandy, Mobiom, was not available to comment on their contract with the government.

Interior Minister Gerard Collomb told a French broadcaster on Monday that speeding tickets would still be handled by police: "There won't be a push to give out the most tickets possible," adding that the private firms will not be able to make money out of the number of tickets given.

But not everyone believes privatisation is a good thing. The motorist association 40 Million Motorists, told Normandie-Paris that the private radars "would only generate more money for the government but not improve road safety."

The number of road deaths increased in 2016 for the third year in a row after a 12 year decrease, according to data released by the road safety department.

Asked when they planned to examine if the new speed cameras were working or not, the road safety spokesman told Euronews that they would wait until their annual report to see if road deaths had decreased or not.

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