back to article Égalité, Fraternité - Oui, peut-etre. Liberté? NON, French speedcam Facebookers told

A judge in France has slapped a month-long driving ban on 15 people for posting info about speed cameras on Facebook. The court in Rodez, a small town north-east of Toulouse in the south of France, took a very literal interpretation of article R413-5V of the French rules of the road, which makes it illegal to alert drivers to …

  1. DavCrav Silver badge

    I don't need to drive in France. Send this information to me by e-mail, and I can put it on Twitter.

    Or something like this.

    1. James O'Shea Silver badge

      Send it to me. I'm on the far side of the Atlantic from France, and haven't driven in France for over a decade. They literally can't do a damn thing to me.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Win Win

        Also, there is absolutely no danger of you or your family being run over by a speeding French driver - so it's a win-win.

        1. James O'Shea Silver badge

          Re: Win Win

          Nah, I live in Florida. Plenty of French-speaking madmen driving around here, mostly Quebecois snowbirds. And we have Cuban Cowboys and their sisters, Las Latinas Brava. There are _lots_ of low-flying idiots, though I'll admit that the Quebecois manage to scare even Las Latinas Brava, something not even a state trooper flashing blue lights in the rearview can to do.

  2. therealvicz

    Not afraid of the European Arrest Warrant then?

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Nope. From Wikipedia:

      "It can only be issued for offences carrying a maximum penalty of 12 months or more in prison."

      Edit: There are other criteria for refusal of an EAW, including the offence was committed outwith the issuing state's territory and would not be a crime in the executing state, which this is.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Besides a French court cannot impose a driving ban on a UK license (or vice versa). The most they can do is fine you.

        1. kraut

          <blockquote>Besides a French court cannot impose a driving ban on a UK license (or vice versa). The most they can do is fine you.</blockquote>

          The French most certainly can ban you from driving in France. Just like the Swiss can ban you from driving in Switzerland, say for speeding.

          Don't ask me how I know.

          Mine's the one with the "go faster" stripes on the pockets/

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            > Just like the Swiss can ban you from driving in Switzerland, say for speeding.

            They can also kick you out of the country, say for candidly exchanging impressions about their motherland with Swiss customs officers.

            Don't ask me how I know.

    2. Psyx

      Pretty sure that a good lawyer and a willingness to go to the court of human rights could probably get them off.

      Frankly, it's a free speech issue.

      1. P. Lee Silver badge
        Coat

        >Frankly, it's a free speech issue.

        This is france. They'll chop your head off just for having the wrong parents.

        icon: ... and your arms and legs.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Think the AA already advise people that satnavs with speed camera warnings can get you into trouble with the French police.

    1. Simon Harris Silver badge

      Shouldn't that only get the satnav manufacturer into trouble if, as the article states, the law does not cover those receiving information.

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Quote: Shouldn't that only get the satnav manufacturer into trouble if, as the article states, the law does not cover those receiving information.

        Actually most SatNav software on sale in Eu will not display camera warnings in France and if memory serves me right in Switherland for this exact reason without you going in and tinkering with the settings.

        Law is an ass and napoleonic law doubly so - it _DOES_ not leave the magistrate _ANY_ freedom of interpretation as in AngloSaxon law. This is a double-edged sword as if there is no offence specified there is no way for the judiciary to engage in creative interpretation and sentencing as they do in the land of the Common Law. However, if there is an offence (as in this case) they have no choice, but to administer the assigned punishment which they did. C'est la vie.

        1. Extra spicey vindaloo

          My tomtom definitely had camera warnings, about 500m +- of the camera. I no longer use it as the updates never worked, CoPilot has the cameras as well, but with less accuracy.

        2. Psyx

          To be fair, our magistrates don't have much leeway, either.

        3. James Micallef Silver badge

          In Switzerland it's illegal to have any form of detector for speed cameras, whether it's a radar detector or a satnav giving you the instructions. So, unlike France, it's not just illegal to publish information about speed cameras, it's illegal to receive any such information.

          Legally, if you have a satnav you are required to turn off any speed-camera-warning functionality as soon as you enter Switzerland. Practically, I'm not sure how this could be enforced... I think a radar-detector can itself be detected, but police would have to have stopped you for some other reason and would probably require some suspicion to check your GPS

          1. Lee D Silver badge

            Stop speeding and stick to the driving laws of the country you're in. Pick another country if you disagree with them.

            Why, when it's driving, do we all suddenly feel the urge to break the law but NEVER campaign to, for example, raise the limits (the 80mph on motorways proposed in the UK was shot down due to complete lack of interest) if we want to drive that fast? What is it about cars that makes us magically want to break a clearly set-down, long-established number?

            Stick to the limit. Then it doesn't matter if you have a speed camera every foot of the road that's entirely invisible and you're not allowed any devices at all. Or the complete opposite.

            Honestly, people, I'm not a goodie-two-shoes but every time I discuss this, people take offence at the suggestion that they should just keep it under 70 rather than bitch and moan about what colour the pole was that the camera which caught them was attached to.

    2. Dr_N Silver badge

      Only if they are " too accurate".

      So long as they conform to NF Logiciel n° 203 and alert to a zone of a few kilometres rather than pin-pointing the exact location of the radar to within a couple of hundred meters they are legal in France.

    3. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      What about Maps?

      The Michellein Road Atlas of France that I have has all the fixed camera locations marked.

      Perhaps this whole thing is the typical French 'Do as I say and not as I do!'

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: What about Maps?

        Germany as well, I think you can add it after purchase (small print, as long as you don't activate it in Germany), but you can't purchase with it enabled. It is a 75€ fine if you are caught.

  4. Whiskers

    Hazard

    Why not post 'hazardous road' warnings for the places where the speed cameras are placed? After all, there is no other legitimate reason for installing speed cameras - and who could object to informing drivers of hazards?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hazard

      Why not post 'hazardous road' warnings for the places where the speed cameras are placed? After all, there is no other legitimate reason for installing speed cameras - and who could object to informing drivers of hazards?

      Precisely what http://www.viamichelin.com does

    2. James Micallef Silver badge

      Re: Hazard

      "there is no other legitimate reason for installing speed cameras"

      That doesn't stop governments from installing them as revenue-generators. I always said, if there was a genuine hazard and the intention was to really slow motorists down, you would have a highly visible camera housing, painted in bright orange. If you actually don't care about motorists slowing down, but are just interested in revenue, you would hide the cameras round corners and paint them in nondescript colours or even camouflage.

      The fact that cameras are always configured in the latter way discloses their real functionality.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Hazard

        Thankfully in the UK, disguising the things was made illegal over a decade ago.

        That doesn't stop the speed camera outfits from trying (putting them in a gap in the hedgerow, as a f'instance), but tickets from such devices are likely to be thrown out if challenged.

        It's fairly interesting that should you try and film a mobile operator, they'll try to stop you doing anything which would result in them being identified, particularly if they're in a dodgy position (including driving off with the gear still running).

        1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

          Re: Hazard

          in the UK, disguising the things was made illegal over a decade ago

          It didn't really work. I think the law says they have to be yellow, but fails to specify what kind of yellow. The small, presumably digital, cameras that are replacing the big square boxes all seem to be painted a dull buff colour.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hazard

        If you actually don't care about motorists slowing down, but are just interested in revenue, you would hide the cameras round corners and paint them in nondescript colours or even camouflage.

        Precisely what the french police do... (the boxes are grey and have very little of the yellow/black tape) ;-)

        They do post big signs on the autoroute warning you when one is comping up though.

      3. Terry Barnes

        Re: Hazard

        "That doesn't stop governments from installing them as revenue-generators. I always said, if there was a genuine hazard and the intention was to really slow motorists down, you would have a highly visible camera housing, painted in bright orange."

        That makes no sense though. Apart from specific junctions on some roads, it's stretches of road that are dangerous. It's impossible to have a camera that covers the whole stretch, though I suppose we could start to use average speed cameras instead and time people in and out of the dangerous section.

        Stats show that people who have points for speeding are roughly twice as likely to have an at fault accident than a driver without, so there's clearly some merit in the cameras. they're unlikely to work as revenue raisers though as 1) in the UK all the fines go on driver awareness courses and 2) you only need to catch someone four times and the revenue the exchequer receives from a driver in terms of fuel tax (and sometimes income tax) tends to decline rather rapidly.

        I avoid any problem by simply never speeding. I don't have camera warnings on my satnav, I just have it set to alert me if I exceed the limit by 1MPH.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hazard

          > It's impossible to have a camera that covers the whole stretch, though I suppose we could start to use average speed cameras instead and time people in and out of the dangerous section.

          It's not impossible. As you have stated, average speed cameras do take care of that, largely in a slightly more civilised way.

          I am aware however of people beating those by having "pilot" cars do the stretch between the two cameras at just below the posted limit. They start at the same time, speed up for a bit, then slow down to a crawl until their pilot car catches up with them which they then follow until the next camera--rinse and repeat.

          I think those people are utter idiots though, and should just go and hire a racetrack (which is precisely what I do when I want to race) instead of being a nuisance and a danger to the public.

      4. Manolo

        Re: Hazard

        "That doesn't stop governments from installing them as revenue-generators."

        Whoosh.

        I think Whiskers forgot the sarcasm mark when he wrote "there is no other legitimate reason for installing speed cameras".

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hazard

      "Why not post 'hazardous road' warnings for the places where the speed cameras are placed? After all, there is no other legitimate reason for installing speed cameras"

      Unfortunately the main hazard is mobile and called "other bloody drivers".

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    This doesn't apply to the UK.

    otherwise this lot would be in trouble.

    http://www.srpwestmercia.org.uk/camera-statistics-2/

  6. Khaptain Silver badge
    Flame

    Google Waze

    Intially I had a GPS which I could update with the locations of all the SpeedCams, they got banned.

    Then I bought a Coyote, which alerted me in real time about those damned SpeedCams, Coyote were told to stop the dynamic updates or go out of business, Coyote followed the rules, wimps.

    So now I use Waze, I hate the cartoon style characters but the application is actually pretty good. It doesn't just warn me about speed traps but it also includes accidents, stopped cars, traffic jams, weather alerts etc etc .. I just wonder how long it will be before they ban it too....

    Here in France they are have now started doing tests to limit the 90 Kmh B roads down to 80 Kmh. You can be sure that this will give them yet another excuse to increase the number of Fixed SpeedCams/Mobile Speedcams...

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. unwarranted triumphalism Bronze badge

        Re: Google Waze

        No, they couldn't possibly do that. It's a violation of their Yooman Rights, you see.

        1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
          Childcatcher

          Re: Google Waze

          I worked with a cop who had switched careers to IT. He had previously done a broad range of jobs while working as a sheriff's deputy. I asked him what thing he had dealt with that bothered him the most. He told me it was speeding - that endangering your (the driver's) life and the lives of everyone around you for the sake of a few minutes was inexcusable. I don't speed any more.

          I believe speed traps are pure crap as they are effectively there to impose an additional tax on people rather than ensure their safety. In fact, drivers are apt to panic and make a mistake if they are surprised by one coming around a corner at a too high a speed. I believe the Finns, Swiss, et cetera have it right in matching the penalty to the goal of decreasing dangerous and unwanted behavior. I realize many people do not feel that way about speeding, but it is refreshing to have fairly rational laws in place.

          1. Khaptain Silver badge

            Re: Google Waze

            @Robert.

            >Swiss, et cetera have it right in matching the penalty to the goal of decreasing dangerous and unwanted behavior.

            All that this creates is a situation whereby the rich people are the ones doing the speeding because they can afford it and also because they have very nice, very fast cars.

            Almost every week in the "20 Minutes" a free local Swiss newspaper, you read about someone in a fast expensive car breaking the speed limit and getting severly fined.

            Here is a link to what I believe is the current record breaker. 300 000 Chf for doing 140Kmh in a 100kmh zone.. The driver, a german, who has already been fined for the same thing multiple times, is a multimillionaire...... Does it stop people driving fast, not in the slightest.

            http://www.20min.ch/ro/news/suisse/story/Un-exces-de-vitesse-a-300-000-francs--24794610

            Here is another, this time a Swiss driver

            http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Swiss_millionaire_gets_record_speeding_fine

            There really are examples of this kind of thing, albeit smaller fines but similar speeds, every week.

            (It's quite common to see bikes).

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Google Waze

              > All that this creates is a situation whereby the rich people are the ones doing the speeding because they can afford it and also because they have very nice, very fast cars [....] Does it stop people driving fast, not in the slightest.

              It does considerably reduce the number of people driving fast though, thereby increasing safety and making roads more civilised places in general.

              I live in a country where most people abide by the posted speed limits because of a) proper driver education, b) frequent checks, c) stiff penalties (loss of licence, criminal record) and d) it's generally considered impolite to drive without due consideration for others. It makes a day and night difference compared to places like France and the UK, and I actually enjoy driving here.

              1. The First Dave

                Re: Google Waze

                One of the effects that speed cameras have is to make the roads more dangerous. For example, until recently, there was one on a trunk road near me (no longer a trunk road, so the camera has now gone) which was on the one straight bit of road for several miles. Rural location, so lots of tractors around, so everyone had to overtake them on the bends instead...

      2. Martin-73 Silver badge

        Re: Google Waze

        So you've never done 30.05 in a 30 zone?

    2. John R. Macdonald
      Alert

      Re: Google Waze

      Are you sure about the Coyote dynamic updates? I'm not. When I upgraded my Coyote, the salesperson showed me the undocumented way of reporting the new mobile radar trap zones (unmarked police cars with radar hidden behind the front number plate that snap your rear plate if you are speeding when overtaking them).

      The drivers in this Rodez case are appealing their sentence.

      Oh and a better subtitle could be "Vous rigolez n'est-ce pas?"

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: Google Waze

        @John are you in GB or France.

        The other problem with Coyote was a monthly fee was required , whereas Waze if, for the moment, is still free.

        Do you have a link to those undocumented features. ( just for information purposes of course)

        1. John R. Macdonald

          Re: Google Waze

          I'm in France.

          The monthly fee for the Coyote I have is 10 or 12 euros depending on your subscription plan.

          For your, ahem, research and if you can read French

          http://www.moncoyote-forum.com/t20178-radar-mobile-mobile-dit-mouvant (about 1/3rd down the page)

          1. Khaptain Silver badge

            Re: Google Waze

            @John

            Ok merci, je vais de nouveau etudier la Coyote... ZAR ou ZARM zat is ze question....

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Jeremy Clarkson Effect...

    Haven't all the motorists here, passed their driving test?

    To pass the Driving Test and obtain a licence you have to show that you are in complete control of the vehicle 100% of the time.

    Being able to control the speed of the vehi..........you know what, forget it.......just keep moaning about the cameras.

    1. Psyx

      Re: The Jeremy Clarkson Effect...

      "Being able to control the speed of the vehi..........you know what, forget it.......just keep moaning about the cameras."

      Travelling at the velocity of a speed limit in no way has a bearing on one's control of the vehicle. There is no relation between the two.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: The Jeremy Clarkson Effect...

        Exactly Psyx, sometimes the weather conditions mean that driving at a speed anywhere near approaching the speed limit would be dangerous.

        But you can control the vehicle and drive at or under the posted speed limit. If you don't, then you have to live with the consequences.

        I've used the navigation feature on my smartphone once in the last 2 years. I don't even know whether it offers speed trap notices. I usually know where I am going and I look around me.

        1. Psyx

          Re: The Jeremy Clarkson Effect...

          "Exactly Psyx, sometimes the weather conditions mean that driving at a speed anywhere near approaching the speed limit would be dangerous."

          Quite. 70mph in fog is an insane speed to drive at.

          And likewise sometimes travelling in excess of it is perfectly safe as well. After all: Most were established when cars lacked disc brakes, independent suspension and ABS.

          1. Eponymous Cowherd

            Re: The Jeremy Clarkson Effect...

            "And likewise sometimes travelling in excess of it is perfectly safe as well.

            But illegal.

            If you knowingly exceed the speed limit and get caught, you only have yourself to blame. That is the way the law works. Its no good whining about sneakily placed speed traps, you know the law, you broke it, you got caught. Man up and take it on the chin rather than crying like a baby.

            Oh? You already have 9 points on your licence? Well you were triply stupid speeding knowing that another ticket would result in a ban and no job then, weren't you.

            1. Psyx

              Re: The Jeremy Clarkson Effect...

              "But illegal."

              Nice rant, but that was not the point that was being discussed.

              "If you knowingly exceed the speed limit and get caught, you only have yourself to blame. "

              If you unknowing do, it's your own fault too. Should have paid attention to the big numbers two feet from your face, or got the speedo fixed.

              "Man up and take it on the chin rather than crying like a baby. Oh? You already have 9 points on your licence?"

              Great assumptions and mud slinging there. Mine's clean. Partly because I keep an eye out for sodding great bright yellow boxes stuck on poles on the roadside. Anyone caught by one of them deserves the fine for inattentiveness behind the wheel as much as their velocity. However I have zero personal issues as regards putting my foot down when appropriate to conditions, rather than obeying an arbitrary legal limit.

              Anyway, you are statistically likely to be no angel yourself, having perhaps broken equivalent laws: Parking on curbs, dropping people off on double yellows, driving or drinking when driving, using a phone while driving, driving with faults that would cause an MOT failure which had slipped your notice, cutting up the curb on a bike. Each one of those is in the same ballpark as putting a toe down on an empty stretch of road.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: The Jeremy Clarkson Effect...

                I agree - we should all be allowed to choose which laws are relevant to us.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: The Jeremy Clarkson Effect...

                  I already do, I just avoid letting every know, hence the secret facemask that I use as an avatar.

                  1. Martin-73 Silver badge

                    Re: The Jeremy Clarkson Effect...

                    A point once made by someone who was more lateral thinking than me, is that the damn things CAUSE accidents. People see them, slam the brakes on (usually to about 1/2 the posted limit) and then proceed to watch their speedometer rather than the road.

                    Yes the people doing that may be in the wrong, but the people placing the cameras should take account of human nature. Their failure to do so causes accidents

                    1. buyone

                      Re: The Jeremy Clarkson Effect...

                      Yes, I've done that. Slammed on the brakes when I saw the camera because I was lost (no Sat Nav lock) and driving on a strange dual carriageway in Southampton. I was trying to spot the speed limit repeaters on the lamp posts, which were legally required to be there but were not. Legally I should have passed 4 or 5. So who caused the road hazard?

                2. Psyx

                  Re: The Jeremy Clarkson Effect...

                  "I agree - we should all be allowed to choose which laws are relevant to us."

                  And you never have?

                  Has that need for a pi$$ never eclipsed that massive respect for the law that you have on the way home from the pub?

              2. Terry Barnes

                Re: The Jeremy Clarkson Effect...

                "However I have zero personal issues as regards putting my foot down when appropriate to conditions, rather than obeying an arbitrary legal limit."

                Driving isn't a compulsory activity. If you feel unable to comply with the rules and laws regarding driving, you are free to choose not to drive.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: The Jeremy Clarkson Effect...

                  @ Terry Barnes

                  Yes Terry, and you also have the freedom, if you think that someone travelling at 2mph over a speed limit is dangerous, of choosing not to drive.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The Jeremy Clarkson Effect...

            > And likewise sometimes travelling in excess of it is perfectly safe as well

            Even though myself I prefer not to exceed the posted speed limits, I am OK with other people speeding if done safely and without annoying others.

            Unfortunately, many people will just hug the overtaking lane as if they had had it built for themselves and prevent other drivers from passing lorries or other slower traffic, and even get all hurt and angry if you shouldn't move out of their way while doing so. I cannot begin to fathom why they would do that. :-(

    2. MJI Silver badge

      Re: The Jeremy Clarkson Effect...

      Funny but when I took my test I asked about this and my instructor said drive at the limit if safe and do no worry if you go a couple mph over. 28mph was more likely to result in a fail than a 32mph.

      Oh and driving standards were better then.

  8. kmac499

    Rodez ?

    Rodez isn't that in the mountains with about one road in and one road out ?

    "Well Alphonse which road shall we put the camera on ce matin"

  9. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Illogical

    What is the purpose of speed cameras? is it a) to encourage people to stick to the speed limit or b) to prosecute as many people as possible for speeding and make lots of money?

    If it's a) then warning people of the presence of a camera and thus to slow down is surely helping enforce the law. If it's b) then they're a bunch of slimy scumbags

    It's noticeable that even in this evil country we call home they now make speed cameras very visible and yellow, having decided that a) is the reason for having them. Round here they publish the list of next week's locations for the mobils traps in the paper!

    1. Simon Cresswell

      Re: Illogical

      Actually most* fixed speed cameras in France are visible by way of a chuffing great sign warning of said camera - on Autoroutes the camera will normally be within 1km of the warning sign, on rural and urban roads, normally less.

      The only people that stick to 90 here are the sans permis that can't do that anyway - stinks of revenue raising.

      *the A15 at Franconville North of Paris being one exception I've found. Say cheese.

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Illogical

      They are there to catch people who don't obey the law... If you are not driving illegally, you should need no warning, if you are driving too fast and not being observant, then you get what you deserve. :-S

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Illogical

        > The best way to enforce the law would be to hide the cameras and move them around so people have to drive legally everywhere.

        In my opinion and experience, the best way would be to teach everyone to have proper respect and deference to others when (but not just) they are learning to drive.

      2. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Illogical

        Personally I don't care what speed someone is doing if they are safe, but too many people are dangerous WITHIN the limit.

        I would rather people did 40 in the 30 near me on the through estate road rather than drive at 30 with no lights, or fog lights, or not signalling at roundabouts, using correct lanes, not parking in stupid places*.

        * one person lost two cars to Tesco lorries just because she refused to park by her house and parked on the main road instead (on a bend by a junction), she also regularly lost mirror glasses, a pedestrian crossing stopped her.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Seems the French are trying their best to make UK speed camera operations positively friendly.

    UK must be highly visible, must have warning signs. All locations freely available and mobile sites published before the vans park up (they are always listed in the local paper and its web site).

    Almost as if the French don't use them to warn of dangerous roads where speeding could cost you your life, but, are there to make money.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's almost as if they don't just want you to stick to the speed limit where the cameras are, but everywhere else as well! Some people, eh?

  11. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

    Toll roads

    Am I right in remembering that there was a plan at one point to also do something similar with the toll roads over there? Basically that at every payage your number plate would get read, and if you reached the next one before the prescribed time (ie you'd driven too fast between the two fixed points) then you got a photograph and a letter in the mail?

    Must admit in the past 15 years or so that I've been fairly regularly driving there (usually the alpine route from Geneva across to Grenoble via Chambery) I've noticed the number of cameras on that route grow massively. There didn't used to be any (other than the Gendarmerie sometimes sat at the exits of the Aires with their hand-helds), but now in the 150km or so I think there must be at least half a dozen if not more.

    The worst one being the 50kph one literally just on the border as you go back into Switzerland - it's notorious within the company, and so my French colleagues tell me it's the highest grossing camera in France. I certainly know several of my colleagues who've been snapped anyway.

    1. bpfh

      Re: Toll roads

      The state cannot access toll road data to clock you between 2 "gares de péage", though that had been discussed several years ago. The local IPO quashed state access of privately held information, especially as autoroute operators did not all have cameras to take your plate, timing was not accurate enough for legal measures and there was nothing stopping you going balls to the wall for 80 kilometers then stopping for half hour coffee break at the last services before the toll booth.

      There *are* section limits though, where your plate is read, then read again 2 km further on, and they calculate how fast your plate got between them, and you are on candid camera if you get there too fast (you then get a letter, and have to write back to get the photo, and I believe after "consigning" the amount of the fine that will either be paid back if it is not you, or cashed irrevocably if you fess up.), but these "radar de tronçon" are operated by the ministry of the interior and synched - hopefully - with an atomic clock.

      @Steve Davies 3: Good point about the Michelin maps. My latest one has a list of speed cams on it... I'd love to see the appeal's court when they walked in with a map and asking why the Michelin Man is not in the dock with them?

  12. Amorous Cowherder
    Facepalm

    I just can't be arsed anymore!

    I used to load speed camera POI warnings on my SatNav but I stopped using them a few years back, now I just can't be arsed with constantly faffing about watching for cameras and speeding up and slowing down. It's easier to just drive just under the speed almost all the time, might be a slower journey and it might piss the odd fecking eejit off who wants to scream up to a 40 speed camera at 65, then slam on the brakes. They're putting in more average speed checks now as they know people do that speed up/slow down thing between cameras. The advantage by driving at the limit is that I'm not emptying my tank with a single journey, a bit more "bang for my buck" so to speak when I pump in the diesel.

    1. pepper

      Re: I just can't be arsed anymore!

      Aye, I do that as well, and I've noticed that speeding doesnt yield me any time advantage anyway.

      Just today some plonker was hugging my tail and flashing his lights because in his opinion I obviously wasnt overtaking the traffic quick enough, even though I was doing 125KM/H and overtaking lorries that were doing 90KM/H... Then again he could have overtaken me earlier and was probably miffed that he didnt do it. In retrospect I should have shown him the finger.

      Also, I could still see him ahead of me 4 minutes later...

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: I just can't be arsed anymore!

        Speeding is a weird thing - it doesnt seem to do you any good. I had a campervan that wouldn't break 70 and on long journeys (Edinburgh to London) it would take about 1/2 hr longer than quantum leaping the same route in the Missuses 20v 2l Fiat turbo and about 3 tanks of fuel. The thing about the camper was you could just step out of it at the end fresh as a daisy whereas the other car required 2 hrs rest and counselling afterwards.

        As you can see that was a while ago - last time I did it a camel could have beaten the traffic.

      2. P. Lee Silver badge

        Re: I just can't be arsed anymore!

        >Just today some plonker was hugging my tail and flashing his lights because in his opinion I obviously wasnt overtaking the traffic quick enough,

        Which is precisely why speed limits shouldn't be strictly enforced. In Oz, strict speed limit enforcement (3kmph is your leeway even on the motorways) scare many people into staying well below the speed limit (often 20kmph below the limit, in the outside lane) which is frustrating. Being slightly less, er, pedantic, would allow people to drive on the limit without fear of accidental prosecution, removing all reason and excuses for those tailgating.

        But Oz is weird. Going east from Melbourne, the speed limit rises when you get off the motorway and onto A roads. Speed limits vary constantly along a road, usually by 10kmph (yes - that's a fast moving pedestrian) and they don't differentiate between repeater signs and speed limit bounderies, so you'd better make sure you see all the signs. They have electronic speed signs on the motorways which never change. They are obsessed with driving slowly, with continuous exhortations to "wipe off 5." I'm not sure if they are saying they got the speed limit wrong for the road, or at what speed you should stop "wiping off 5" - zero I suppose. Running red lights, however appears to be a Melbournian hobby, probably due to the long four-way grid cycle and lack of traffic sensors. They also give turn-left traffic and crossing pedestrians simultaneous green lights. What could go wrong?

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: I just can't be arsed anymore!

          "In Oz, strict speed limit enforcement (3kmph is your leeway even on the motorways) scare many people into staying well below the speed limit (often 20kmph below the limit, in the outside lane) which is frustrating."

          It's also illegal and in Oz (or New Zealand, or the UK) can get you a ticket for dangerous driving if the copper feels so inclined - or at the very least, ticketed for failing to keep left.

          The UK's just changed the rules so that coppers can issue fixed penalty notices (Oz or NZ equivalent are infringement notices) for such behaviour instead of having to go through the court summons rigamarole but so far it's made zero difference to middle/right lane hogging by slow drivers.(*)

          (*) If you're in the right lane and passing traffic then the guy in a X5 or woman driving a MX5 (it's usually one or 'tother) sitting 2 metres off your bumper at 80mph, gesticulating and flashing lights can take a long walk off a short pier. It's tempting to "brake check" them, isn't it?

          1. pepper

            Re: I just can't be arsed anymore!

            > (*) If you're in the right lane and passing traffic then the guy in a X5 or woman driving a MX5 (it's usually > one or 'tother) sitting 2 metres off your bumper at 80mph, gesticulating and flashing lights can take a long > walk off a short pier. It's tempting to "brake check" them, isn't it?

            It did cross my mind but I would have expected this gentlemen to swerve into me the first oppertunity he got. When he passed me it was obvious that he also wasnt paying the attention he should to maintaining control of his vehicle.

            In retrospect, I should have flipped him off after he started flashing his lights(which is illegal where I live). But oh well, better let him trundle off and wait behind the other traffic just ahead.

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: I just can't be arsed anymore!

        "Just today some plonker was hugging my tail and flashing his lights "

        They tend to back off quickly when they notice the rear-facing camera inside your car.

    2. Eponymous Cowherd
      Thumb Up

      Re: I just can't be arsed anymore!

      Quite.

      I plan my journey so that I have plenty of time, stick to the limits, have a much less stressful journey and get an extra 10 or so mpg out of the car.

      And there is the added advantage that you know you won't be having a nasty surprise landing on your doormat in a week or so.

      Win-Win.

    3. dv

      Re: I just can't be arsed anymore!

      I commute almost 2 hours every day, and actually regularly travel long distance (400km) to the onsite office - say once or twice a week. We have GPS loggers in company cars, and we get the report at the end of each month. During an average month I spend around ~100 hours behind the wheel on work-related trips. I have found out that during the daily commute there's not much to be gained by speeding (extreme speeding yields "time savings" to the order of 5 minutes - totally not worth it). On the other hand, the long-distance weekly travel is mainly a highway route, moderate speeding there can easily shave HALF an hour off each trip, saving me six to eight hours monthly. That's one night's worth of sleep, or two afternoons with kids.

      I have absolutely no problem sticking to the limit inside cities, and actually go a lot less in some places. What I DO have a problem with, on the other hand, are speed traps on motorways, where there's negligible risk in speeding to all participants (see Germany etc...). And what really triggers me is the stupid laws - I could live without radar detectors, almost noone uses those anyway. But why do I have to cripple my satnav to make it legal to drive through stupid fucked-up places like France?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I just can't be arsed anymore!

        > there's negligible risk in speeding to all participants (see Germany etc...)

        Actually, Germany has got the highest rate of traffic fatalities in Europe (I checked this some time ago).

        I have a powerful car and love going fast in Germany when the road is deserted (I obey the limits when they exist), but I am well aware that if I do prang it I'm toast with almost certainty rather than mere likelihood. I do my best not to put anyone else at risk though, so I keep it civil when approaching other traffic.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I just can't be arsed anymore!

      > might be a slower journey

      Usually not significantly slower to make a real difference.

      Also, on longer motorway journeys a higher speed means shorter range to empty (fuel burn increasing more or less with the cube of the speed difference IIRC) so it may actually be slower. I do take this into account when travelling along unlimited roads in Germany.

      And on urban trips, there is a good example from Barcelona: years back, when they added lots of speed cameras to the Rondes so that most of the traffic actually stuck to the posted 80 kph or so, they reduced the time required to cross Barcelona by a few minutes. This is because they eliminated much of the accordion effect at entry/exit ramps.

  13. stringyfloppy

    As a result of this decision, drivers will drive faster in those areas than they would have if they knew there were speed cameras and speed traps, resulting in more traffic accidents. Well done, France.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    surely if you are fined / otherwise in trouble because of evidence from a camera, you have the right to tell people about a) the fine/trouble, and b) the "witness" against you. Otherwise you'd be in some tin-pot little dictatorship with moronic laws, like the UK's RIPA, that lets councils use anti-terror powers to check on your school attendance ...

  15. Grease Monkey

    They didn't think they were doing anything illegal? Since when has ignorance been a valid defence?

    1. bpfh
      Headmaster

      "Nul est censé ignorer la loi"

      None are to be ignorant of the law, but given the size of France's texts of law, you can get off fairly often with a slap on the wrist and the procurer reading you a "reminder of the law"

  16. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    Not a new problem

    A long time ago, in the UK, it was customary for AA patrolmen (on motorbikes) to warn passing AA memers of speed traps by saluting them. This resulted in prosecutions for obstructing the police, or some such offence.

    The AA then changed their policy so that patrolmen always saluted members when they passed them. Sometimes they seemed to forget, or didn't notice the member, but you couldn't make that an offense, even if it always seemed to happen just before a speed trap.

    1. Grease Monkey

      Re: Not a new problem

      Not quite. It had always been a tradition of the organization that it's patrols would salute members. When spped traps came into being patrols would flag down members to wan them that they were approaching a spped trap. The story goes that this was deemed to be illegal, so they came up with the idea that patrols would not salute members if there was a speed trap ahead. The theory being that the member could then stop to ask the patrol why he didn't salute and he could then tell them about the speed trap. I've always wondered about that story simply because the patrol was still warning the driver of the speed trap and therefore breaking the law. I think it more likely that the omission to salute was a clear signal that therefore meant the driver didn't have to stop. After all stopping to be warned of a speed trap would probably lengthen you journey time more than simply driving below the limit.

  17. Oldfogey

    Slow Down

    When I am cruising at the speed limit, and some idiot comes and sits on my tail to try and make me go faster, I just lift my foot until my speed is appropriate for the gap behind me. If he closes up, I go slower.

    Probably helps that I drive a Land Rover, and idiots can see that if they ran into the back of me they would have a write-off, and I would need a to re-apply the mud.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Slow Down

      Unless that has a tdi or newer donk in it, that'll be you flat out on the uk motorway, and 20km/h below the limit abroad on the autoroute then? :D

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Slow Down

        Depends, anything 1998 to 2007 will be fine, as would anything V8.

        I drove a 2014 one recently, horrible engine, the older engines are MUCH nicer.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How to avoid speed cameras in any country

    Slow down to below the limit and stop driving like a self-centred twat.

    If you can't do thus, you deserve to lose you license.

    These Frenchies were right to be punished for making it harder for police to enforce the law and improve France's appalling road safety.

  19. Barry Mahon

    Couple or three of things:-

    1. Rodez, have a look at the map, yes NE of Toulouse but.... 'near' ??

    2. Fixed cameras in France are marked about 200m before by a triangle with an R in it.

    3. Speed limit warnings are fitted in French GPS units, about 500m round the location.

    Slow down and, better, rostbifs, don't drive in France, vote UKIP.

  20. Whiskers

    Speed limits are a distraction

    While drivers are peering at the speedo and trying to remember what the last speed-limit sign was, and searching the verges for the next one, they aren't paying attention to the road and weather conditions and the pedestrians and animals waiting to leap out in front of them.

    A speed limit also leads people to think that 'that is the correct speed for this road' regardless of anything else, which is I'm sure at least part of what causes motorway pile-ups in fog and rain.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Speed limits are a distraction

      > While drivers are peering at the speedo and trying to remember what the last speed-limit sign was, and searching the verges for the next one, they aren't paying attention to the road

      That's a valid point. Which is why my car has (adaptive¹) cruise control and a traffic sign recognition camera. :-)

      ¹ Which has the added benefit that I now know exactly what a two-second safety distance looks like at any legal speed. That's beside the collision detection bit that comes with it.

  21. Kubla Cant Silver badge

    One interesting side-effect of the ETA shown on the satnav is that you can see exactly what difference your speed makes. On long motorway journeys the time taken is a fairly direct function of speed, but elsewhere it seems that driving as fast as I dare makes so little difference that it's not worthwhile.

    There seem to be more and more average-speed cameras, and these seem ro be much more effective than the old fixed cameras. Sometimes I wonder, when I'm sitting in a tailback on the A14, whether I'd be entitled, or even obligated, to complete my journey at 150 mph in order to achieve the required average.

  22. Potemkine Silver badge

    Freedom != Do whatever you want

    "La liberté consiste à pouvoir faire tout ce qui ne nuit pas à autrui : ainsi, l'exercice des droits naturels de chaque homme n'a de bornes que celles qui assurent aux autres Membres de la Société la jouissance de ces mêmes droits. Ces bornes ne peuvent être déterminées que par la Loi."

    " Liberty consists in the freedom to do everything which injures no one else; hence the exercise of the natural rights of each man has no limits except those which assure to the other members of the society the enjoyment of the same rights. These limits can only be determined by law."

    1. dv

      Re: Freedom != Do whatever you want

      How do I injure anyone (including me) by going over the speed limit on an empty motorway during the wee small hours after midnight? Legit question, I really can't see the damage to society.

      1. buyone

        Re: Freedom != Do whatever you want

        Who sets the speed limit? Is it the same people that make roads more dangerous so psychologically influencing drivers to slow. Near me, they have turned a blind series of S bends into a single lane death trap for families out for a walk and cyclists. The near misses I have seen are frightening.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Freedom != Do whatever you want

          > Who sets the speed limit?

          That's not a simple question to answer but I'll try. Initially, the speed limit is determined by the design speed of a given road, and any deviations from it. The legal speed limit is (almost) always slower than the design speed limit, the latter being basically an engineering number used to calculate turn radii, slopes, and other parameters. The higher the design speed, the higher the cost and environmental impact of a road--its counterpart is usually increased capacity.

          Latter on, other factors come into account though, as might be economic, pollution, or noise considerations (mentioned in another post), safety hazards that did not exist or were not identified at the design stage, deterioration of road surface or highway environment conditions, changes in traffic patterns, temporary restrictions or obstructions, etc., etc.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Freedom != Do whatever you want

        > Legit question, I really can't see the damage to society.

        There are a number of arguments that have been made in that respect. A couple that I remember off the top of my head right now are:

        * Increased speed means increased energy consumption and more pollution for little if any gain, both of which have a negative social impact.

        * In some places, speed limits are in place at night in order to reduce traffic noise, which can be very disruptive for those living close to a major road.

  23. Roj Blake Silver badge

    What Really Annoys Me

    Drivers! When encountering a speed camera in a 60mph zone, you do not need to slam on your brakes if you are already travelling under 60mph.

    1. buyone

      Re: What Really Annoys Me

      There are laws about speed limit signs and if the council ignore those laws you have no alternative but to brake to 30.

  24. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    "Swiss, et cetera have it right in matching the penalty to the goal of decreasing dangerous and unwanted behavior.

    All that this creates is a situation whereby the rich people are the ones doing the speeding because they can afford it and also because they have very nice, very fast cars."

    But at least they do have the "progressive" fines. Here in the US, 140kph in a 100 (well, 90 in a 65, we use MPH here thank you very much) would get a ~$300 fine (depends a lot on the state)... whether you might have $10 a month left over at the end of the month and that $300 is a crlppling fine, or your a multimillionaire and that $300 is a joke.

    You guys whining about any and all speeding (and claiming going 1MPH over means your not controlling your car) sound like a bunch of wankers. There's times when traffic or weather conditions make it inappropriate to even approach the speed limit; there's places where the speed limit is simply higher than it should be (where the speed limit is appropriate on part of a road, but some part might have heavy turning traffic, or driveways, or just plain piss-poor rough road without reduced speed limit.) Other roads are set way too low for revenue generation, these speed limits are not set based on the proper legal basis of speed limits so there's really no reason to follow them if you can get away with it.

    What you really need (and luckily we have here in the US) are actual police cars on the road. The most dangerous drivers I see are the ones who usually aren't even speeding... but when traffic thickens up and slows down, they are bouncing from lane to lane like speed-racer instead of waiting a minute or two for traffic to clear on it's own. A speed camera will NEVER catch this.

    Of course, the worst are left-lane pacers (I guess for you that'd be right-lane pacers.) They really need to get tickets for obstructing traffic (and unfortunately they don't), they sit there and never get past whatever vehicle is in the right lane, just obliviously letting more and more traffic build up behind them for miles on end.

    1. kraut

      +1 for fines proportional to income. £X may be a lot or a little to you - £y% of annual income applies the same effect fairly to the whole population.

      Fines expressed in day rates are quite common in continental Europe AFAIK.

      Left/right lane pacers may be a nuisance to speeders(*), but the real problem in terms of danger are tailgaters. If you can't understand that your distance to the car in front should at the very least be 2 seconds(**), you shouldn't be driving (***)

      * fetch me my tiny violin

      ** for the pedants: "the distance your own car travels in two seconds". Preferably expressed in lightyears for added piquancy(****)

      *** anything faster than a mobility scooter.

      **** and zeros after the decimal point.

  25. FunkyEric

    My 2c

    Clearly we don't speed because it saves time, as it doesn't significantly on most journeys. It's much more likely that we do it because it is fun, for 2 reasons:

    1 you are being naughty and breaking the rules.

    2 it's just so much more fun pushing your car to the limits (a little) ;-)

    So the best way to stop us from speeding would be to make it illegal to sell cars that could exceed the speed limit. But they won't do that. Do we really need cars that will do 100+ mph? Do we want them?

  26. Amorous Cowherder

    Here's a stupid idea that always works for me, stick to speed limits on non-motorway roads?

    Although even on motorways now they have speedcams, the M25 from Enfield to Watford is a fun drive, every every half mile or so it's a like a red carpet night at swanky London opening 'cos there's so many flashes going off! LOL!

  27. John Savard Silver badge

    Saving Lives

    Driving at excessive speeds places human lives at risk, and so harsh penalties for attempting to reduce the efficiency of legitimate law enforcement measures to ensure that every motorist, every second of the time he or she is on the road, drives at or below the posted speed limit, are entirely appropriate.

    After all, if someone were to die in a car accident, not all the tax revenues of the French government could bring that person back. So it must never be allowed to happen in the first place.

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