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      05-16-2011, 07:06 AM   #1
First Lieutenant

Drives: E91 Sportwagon
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: NoVA

iTrader: (1)

Driving in France likely to get slower/more $

Over the past few days there have been several announcements from the French govt that I thought might be good for people driving in/through France to know. As many of you who have driven in France have experienced, speed enforcement has become more frequent in the last 10 years - both on the autoroutes and on the national roads (alas, enforcement in the cities, where most accidents happen, esp pedestrian deaths, is still very low).

The new policies will do a couple of things: first they are taking down all of the traffic signs that announce fixed radar sites and the gov't will not be providing maps to show the location of fixed cameras. Originally this was supposed to happen only in 2012, but several cities and departments are going ahead "tout suite." Second is the roll out of 1000+ new moving/mobile radars that will be used on the autoroutes (up to now, almost all speed enforcement here has been either fixed radar-cams or handheld laser units). The mobile radar units - to be mounted in police cars like the ones used in the US, will be real gamechanger if combined with unmarked police cars. Third and possibly biggest impact: GPS warning devices will be prohibited - this is a big deal here where several companies, like Coyote and InfoRad, have sold several hundred thousand of these units which are networked very effectively (and now benefit from another 400-500,000 addt users relying on iPhone, Android and Blackberry applications providing almost ubiqitous coverage). Unclear whether GPS navigation units will be covered if they have the camera data in the DB (and how to enforce this, no clue).

Other enforcement methods are being tried out for wider application - I saw one near the south of France a few weeks ago. Radar cams with license plate readers that average your speed over a long stretch of autoroute. The one I saw on the A6 had a large display at the end of the tracking portion - it would flash the license plate of each car passing if they were exceeding the limit. Lots of people clearly taken aback to see their plate flashing in big lights with "trop vite" message.

Generally speaking I am seeing a very large spike in enforcement of limits - but as all the press coverage notes, the increase in traffic deaths in France is mostly connected to the huge increase in motorcycle driving (gas costs) and "distracted" driving. All this generally happening in the cities where you rarely see enforcement.