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Radar Blackspots in France

Thursday 01 May 2008

France has over a thousand radars on its roads and motorists are being caught out most frequently in some of the unlikeliest places.

The quiet and sparsely populated department of the Landes in South West France has the unflattering distinction of capturing more speeding motorists on its automatic radars than any other department in France.

Last year 280,158 radar speeding offences were recorded in the department, with around one third of motorists being caught out near the small village of Labouheyre, on the N10 between Bordeaux and Bayonne.

Second spot went to Hérault, in the region of Languedoc-Roussillon, which recorded 266,261 speeding offences, with most being snapped on the A9 at Saint-Aunès, which flashed 92,439 times.

Third place for getting caught speeding is in the Côte d'Or, where the radars flashed 240,067 times. Indeed, the radar situated on the A6 at Bessey-en-Chaume accounted for no less than 101,159 of all radar offences in the department, the most successful radar in the whole of France.

The list of the top twenty radar ‘blackspots’ is shown on the following table:

Table: Radar Blackspots
Number 1Landes (40)280,158
Number 2Hérault (34)266,261
Number 3Côtes d'or (21)240,067
Number 4Haute-Savoie (74)142,681
Number 5Pyrénées-Orientales (66)121,762
Number 6Marne (51)121,287
Number 7Bas-Rhin (67)98,781
Number 8Aube (10)91,020
Number 9Val d'Oise (95)89,819
Number 10Isère (38)89,255
Number 11Saône et Loire (71)74,959
Number 12Haute-Vienne (87)74,683
Number 13Loiret (45)63,648
Number 14Loir-et-Cher (41)62,682
Number 15Seine-Maritime (76)55,099
Number 16Hautes-Pyrénées (65)48,935
Number 17Charente (16)44,458
Number 18Maine-et-Loire (49)42,770
Number 19Charente-Maritime (17)39,489
Number 20Sarthe (72)26,948

There are around 1000 fixed radars on French roads and, in order to combat the continuing carnage of around 5000 deaths a year on the roads, the French Government is committed to a substantial programme of expansion.

The growth in the number of radars is reflected in the sums paid in fines, which increased from €101m in 2005 to €349 million in 2006. Figures for 2007 are not yet available, but are expected to be higher still.

If you are caught speeding then the level of the fine and nature of the punishment depends on the gravity of the offence, ranging from €45 to €1500. The highest fine is only payable if you are exceeding the speed limit by more than 50km/h, when you may also be liable to suspension of your driving licence. Although EU expats are not required to drive on a French licence, those who suffer a points penalty are required to obtain one. In practice, this does not always occur for, as is so often the case in France, the administrative and judicial apparatus cannot keep pace with the laws they are supposed to implement.

Somewhat surprisingly, only 57% of motorists who were flashed ended up receiving a fine, either because they were within the tolerance limit (+5%), or they could not be pursued because of an out of date address, their plates not clearly visible, or the vehicle was carrying foreign registration.

It would seem that German tourists, used to fewer speeding restrictions on motorways in their own country, are foremost amongst those foreign drivers who speed with impunity on French motorways. The EU is discussing a system cross-border fines for speeding offences, but there remain major technological difficulties to overcome before it can be implemented.

It is somewhat surprising that so many motorists get caught by the radars as the presence of fixed radars is clearly signalled by a road sign around 300 metres in advance of the installation itself. Last year, the Government gave consideration to removal of these warning notices, but, having announced the proposal, they then had a change of heart. It is widely believed that the main reason was because of a campaign of destruction of radars that is fairly widespread in France, and the risk that the withdrawal of warning notices would probably incite more destruction.

You can also see the full list of radars at

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