1/28/2019Speed Camera Resistance Drains French Coffers
French government estimates loss of speed camera profit in the half-billion range, while attacks on automated ticketing slow.
Yellow vest-wearing protesters turned out in force throughout France over the weekend for the eleventh time in a row. An estimated 69,000 took to the streets to register their discontent with President Emmanuel Macron's decisions to raise the tax on gasoline, install more speed cameras and lower speed limits on secondary roads. Macron fought back by attending more townhall meetings and ordering the use of increasingly harsh police tactics against the movement.
Out of 4446 red light and speed cameras in the country, more than 7000 were attacked in 2018. In 2017, the state only spent 9.3 million euros (US $10.6 million) to repair the devices, according to budgetary documents. The experts at Radars Auto estimate that the pricetag for repairs in 2018 is likely to be 25 million euros (US $28 million) because of the higher number of devices that were completely destroyed, as opposed to just covered with a trashbag or spraypainted. Le Parisien cites a higher 82.3 million euro (US $93.8 million) pricetag for repairs plus 430.5 million euros (US $490.8 million) in lost profits while the devices remain idle. The same outlet notes that officials are looking to replace destroyed cameras with sneakier forms of automated ticketing, such as mobile speed cameras used in unmarked cars and pole-mounted speed cameras. The government in December awarded a 149.2 million euro (US $170.1 million) contract to Parifex and Idemia to install the brand new devices throughout the country.
A significant number of cameras remain out of service -- 15 out of 22 cameras are out in the Sarthe department, for example -- but local media reports of attacks on speed cameras slowed dramatically last week.
Officials in Saint-Quentin were happy to have repaired the speed camera on the Boulevard Jean-Bouin only to find it blinded by red paint the next day. Vigilantes in Fougeres used yellow spraypaint on Tuesday to keep the speed camera from issuing tickets. On January 21, the spraypaint-covered speed camera on the A75 in Coudes had a yellow vest wrapped around it, further preventing it from citing passing motorists.
On Saturday, vigilantes torched the speed camera on the RD465 in Chaux. The photo radar device in Mathieu on the D7 burned on Friday while the camera on the D27 in Varaville was also set ablaze. On Wednesday, fire destroyed the automated ticketing machine on the D6015 in Bolbec.