*This is a French language learner article. The words in bold are translated into French at the bottom of the article.
Of the 3,275 fixed speed cams in France, at least 250 have been damaged beyond repair and an additional 1,500 have been vandalised to the point where they no longer work.
This means the government will lose the huge amount of money it was hoping to reap in speeding fines in 2018, which had been expected to be a record year with well over a billion euros due to be brought in to state coffers.
“We can reckon on 500 million euros in losses (due to lack of fines) for the state and 50 million euros in repair costs,” Valérie Rabault, a Socialist member of parliament and a former parliamentary budget rapporteur, told Le Parisien newspaper.
Romain Grau, a member of parliament for the Pyrénées-Orientales department, noted that “local authorities are not rushing to send repair men (to fix the cameras) … and that will likely be the case as long as they go on being vandalised.”
READ ALSO: Why are half of France's speed cameras out of action?
The means of destruction range from covering speed cameras in paint to wrapping them in clingfilm or in rubbish bags to prevent the camera from working.
France's Road Safety association had tried to keep the news under wraps to prevent the trend from spreading, but it happened regardless.
The vandalism had already begun last summer when the speed limit on most country roads was reduced to 80 km per hour, but it went into overdrive when the “yellow vest” protests kicked off in late November and quickly sent the bill for the state soaring.
Vandalising a speed camera is considered a crime in France which can see culprits handed anything from a seven year prison sentence to a €100,000 fine.
Les radars: speed cameras
Les caisses de l’Etat: state coffers
Faramineux: staggering, astronomical (when speaking of a bill)
La facture: the bill
Un sac poubelle: rubbish bag
La sécurité routière: road safety
Un exutoire: an outlet (trouver un exutoire à la violence – find an outlet for violence)
And there was me thinking that all speed cameras were installed purely for the safety of drivers and other road users…. ! Silly me.
I’m unsure of French statute; but, in Brexitania, the statute declares it unlawful to profit from the imposition of penalties (fines) for such as speeding, parking, etc.
The term “penalty” is meant to be just that; a fine imposed to deter further offence; it is NOT (supposedly) a means of raising revenue for the state’s coffers.
The fact that the state is concerned by the loss of income is disturbing and must lead one to conclude that the whole system is implemented for no other reason than to make money.
Speeding is not, of itself, a danger to anyone; Lewis Hamilton does it all the time, and he’s not dead. Failing to come to a controlled stop, however, can be (and often is) fatal to any number of people… !
If the state wants to safeguard the road-users and pedestrians of France; it should prosecute tailgating, reversing out of blind areas into the main highway, not indicating at junctions and roundabouts, over/undertaking on roundabouts, blocking exits – just to list a few.
That, however, would mean getting out of the chair and actually working for the money which, presumably, no one is that interested in doing when a camera, connected to a state database, can raise half a billion euros for doing bugger all.