Last month I wrote about the prudent initiative in France where the speed on secondary roads has now been cut back from 90 km/h to 80 km/h on the 400,000 kilometers of these roads. “Fifty-five percent of  all road deaths occur on these Class “B”  roads that have no central divider or guard rail. In 32 percent of the fatalities  on these secondary roads the major factor was speed.” 

And if you were wondering, France has 5.1 road deaths per 100,000 population; Canada has more at 6.0 road deaths per 100,000.

As The Guardian observed “The government has compared the 80 km/h limit…to the laws enacted since 1973 requiring the use of seat belts, and the installation of automatic speed radars in 2002. Those laws also drew the ire of thousands of drivers, but contributed to nearly four decades of declines in automobile deaths in France, which reached a historic low of 3,268 in 2013.” 

The reaction in France was mixed, with motoring and car clubs vehemently against the speed reductions, and in December 60 percent of the speed cameras had been vandalised.

It has now been estimated that 75 percent of the cameras have been tampered with. And no surprise, the French government has now been able to show a “direct link” between the destruction of the cameras and  increased road carnage deaths on French highways.

France’s Minister of the Interior bluntly stated that  hidden radar while not photographing vehicles continued to record speed, showing a 400 percent increase in speed in December, with four times more speed violations. That resulted in 238 people dying on French highways in January 2019 an increase of nine deaths from  road crash fatalities of January 2018.The vandalism of the speed cameras is estimated to cost 50 million euros to repair, and the government estimates a loss of 500 million euros in fines.

It is a crime to vandalize a speed camera, resulting in a fine up to 100,000 euros and seven years in jail.  The reduced speed initiative was challenged  with the “yellow vest” protests which started in November. While France was celebrating a “historic low” of  3,259 road deaths in 2018, reduced from 3,448 deaths in 2017, road carnage is  now increasing commensurate with increased speed on secondary roads. No one is putting a price on the increased lives lost as a result of the vandalism.

7777381840_des-vehicules-sur-l-autoroute-a1-illustrationImages: Dailymail.uk, rtl.fr.


  1. A photo radar machine does nothing to stop the dump truck tailgating me at the speed limit on the Upper Levels. That’s a daily occurrence in West Vancouver, and will only stop when a real live cop pulls them over and writes a real live ticket. Maybe that will happen on the next warm, sunny day, but I doubt it.

    A typo correction, based on the original article. There were “four times more violations” not ” a 400 percent increase in speed in December.”

    In increase of road deaths from 229 to 238 in one month may be very sad, but it’s also statistically meaningless. Will the media report if the number drops back to 221 in February? And if 75% of cameras have been disabled there is arguably a much bigger problem in France than speeding. It sounds more like full-blown anarchy to me. Or at least the work of the anti-authoritarian, anti-government Gilets jaunes.

    And how many of these cameras do they have in France if the repair bill is at 50 million euros? Either there are cameras at every other corner or the repairs are being done by a private sector “lowest bidder.” BBC says they sell for about £12.500, so there must be thousands of them on the roads. The numbers don’t make sense to me.

    Anyhow, my main concern is that I really dislike “lazy” law enforcement. A real live cop at the side of their road can enforce dozens of different regulations, and help to halt many other kinds of behaviour that can cause accidents. A camera can measure one thing only (and possibly not even fine the actual driver of the vehicle) while ignoring everything else. If the goal, overall, is safety there are better ways to achieve it than picking money put of people’s pockets with automated machines.

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