New French road radars 'slash accidents'

10th December 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Dec 10 (AFP) - The introduction of automatic radars in France last year has resulted in an 85 percent drop in accidents on the parts of roads monitored by the devices, the transport ministry's road safety department said Friday.

PARIS, Dec 10 (AFP) - The introduction of automatic radars in France last year has resulted in an 85 percent drop in accidents on the parts of roads monitored by the devices, the transport ministry's road safety department said Friday.

"The fight against speeding has had exceptional results in terms of reducing accidents," the head of the department, Remy Heitz, told journalists.

The number of deaths in motorway blackspots had noticeably dropped by 50 percent since the deployment of more than 200 radars in those areas and elsewhere around the country, he said.

Authorities intend to have 560 such devices set up alongside roads by the end of next year, with an ultimate goal of having 1,000 fixed and mobile radars checking motorists' speed.

But while the once-aggressive behaviour of French drivers has been toned down, foreign drivers continue to speed with impunity.

According to a Heitz's deputy, Jean Panhaleux, up to a third of the fines automatically sent out to motorists breaking the speed limit are not paid - in large because they are non-French drivers who simply ignore them.

French officials are pushing for cooperation agreements with other European countries, including Britain, Italy and Switzerland, to ensure foreigners violating French speed limits are also forced to pay up.

Other reasons for the non-payment of the fines were the inability to read some number plates in the digital photograph taken, sometimes because of fog or rain, and the number of speeding motorbikers who escape identification because they have no number plate on the front of their vehicles.

Le Figaro newspaper estimated last week that 525,000 fines were sent out to foreign drivers that were not paid, and 100,000 infractions involving motorbikes.

Nine out of 10 of all fines sent out are for speeds within 20 kilometres (13 miles) per hour over the set limit.

The French government this week halved the amount imposed for small violations of up to 20 kilometres per hour over the limit outside city and towns to EUR 45 (USD 60) from EUR 90.

French Transport Minister Gilles de Robien said last month that, while the number of fines sent out had greatly increased in 2003 and 2004, they did not represent a "jackpot" for state coffers.

The 208 radars currently set up had brought in EUR 95 million (USD 126 million), slightly more than the EUR 91million cost of installing the devices, according to the road safety department. Around 1.5 million fines had been mailed since the units were introduced in October 2003.

Heitz said new radars being installed would have technology allowing police to remotely change the registered speed above which their automatic cameras were triggered, so that, for example, lower velocities during heavy rain or pollution could be enforced.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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