By on January 17, 2019

We reported in early December that the ongoing Gilets Jaunes [yellow vests] protests in France were sparked by private motorists, angered by government regulations that they felt landed most heavily on the middle class. One of those regulations was a decrease in the speed limit on two-lane highways from 90 kilometers per hour (56 mph) to 80 kph (50 mph). Those highways represent about 40 percent of France’s roads.

Now, the French government has acknowledged that a majority of the automated cameras used to enforce speed limits in that country have been made inoperable, either vandalized or destroyed by protesters.

In announcing that 60 percent of speed cameras in fixed locations have been damaged since the protests started in mid-November, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said, “I saw on social networks a few fools who appear next to burnt speed cameras. I do not wish for them to one day face the reality of a death on the road. It’s not about figures, it’s about life.”

French website radars-auto.com, which warns motorists about the location of speed cameras, said that as many as 65 percent of speed cameras in that country have been vandalized and that in 2018, over 7,000 installations were damaged. The Europe 1 news agency estimated last month that about half of all French speed cameras had been put out of commission at least temporarily, usually by being spray painted or wrapped in film, and that almost 300 have been destroyed, most of them by fire, though some have been shot with guns or destroyed with explosives. Some of the vandals have a sense of humor, with cameras turned into cows and blocks of cheese. In some French departments (something like an American county), like Vaucluse, in the south of France, nearly all speed cameras, over 90 percent, were put out of service after the Yellow Vest protests began.

Emmanuel Barbe, who heads the Sécurité Routière, the French government’s road safety agency, gravely warned that disabling the speed cameras would lead to more carnage on the roads.  “This damage to the speed camera network… will lead to deaths. And that makes me profoundly sad,” CNN reported.

[Image: Thomas Bresson/Wikimedia (CC BY 4.0)]

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54 Comments on “Protesters Have Damaged or Destroyed a Majority of France’s Speed Cameras...”


  • avatar
    JimC2

    Merveilleux! Maqnifique! Liberté!

    Both the interior minister and the head of the highway patrol forgot to remind us to think about les enfants.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    OUTSTANDING!!! Vive la France!

    Traffic Cameras are one of the biggest extortion sCAMs in society.

    If anything, the roads of France will be safer.

    We have too many potholes in Michigan, but I’m thankful we do not have these tyrannical devices strangling our roads.

    Numerous studies have found accidents go up. Several municipalities in the US have been forced to shut them down, as it has been discovered the cameras are rigged to generate tickets.

    The French public has the right idea! Hopefully college fraternities will make destroying at least one traffic camera a rite of passage for every pledge–brotherhood AND community service!

  • avatar
    energetik9

    I was tagged with a camera speeding ticket last year in France, near Nice. Always great to get a ticket in the mail written entirely in French. Thank you google translate.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Not so Nice after all.

    • 0 avatar
      trackratmk1

      One got me too, funny enough, just outside of Nice. I had to translate my entire ticket as well, and it turned out I was doing 12kph over the limit. The allowable speed buffer they give is 11kph. Come on. I just paid it online through a dubious looking payment portal (for government at least). Lucky I paid it before the ticket arrived from the rental car agency, with their BS $65 fee tacked on top. I asked them why I am being charged an administration/“convenience” fee when I had already paid the ticket on my own? They actually waived the fee! I nearly fell over I was so surprised. Humans are understanding, machines, not so much.

    • 0 avatar
      Hawk Handsaw

      I was also tagged by one outside of Paris last year. I do actually read French, but the ticket took so long to come in the mail that first deadline was passed the fine and gone up into the second tier. I called them, but they didn’t care. I went ahead and paid it, as I have hopes of actually going back someday. Still irksome.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I got tagged by one in 2015. Thankfully, in my own car, on my Euro Delivery trip in my M235i, not a rental car. On German Tourist delivery plates. The Germans are just about as willing to help out the French with that sort of thing by providing the owner information as one would imagine. :-) Though I have heard that if you get pulled by an actual cop, it is pay on the spot or else in that situation.

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    I think the population is trying to say something…

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Good for them!

  • avatar
    YaCar

    There are times when vandalism is a good thing. Destroying mommy-state, revenue-sucking traffic cameras is one of those time.

    • 0 avatar
      MoparRocker74

      Agreed 100%. This is how you protest: government tries to force you to do something or pay something, the people push back against that tyranny. The only real property being targeted by vandals is instrumental in taxation.

      Unlike the idiots here, “protesting” the very democratic process and destroying private property or their own neighborhoods.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, agree, we have to learn from French how to treat Big Brother. Like the storming of the Bastille.

  • avatar
    Rnaboz

    If 6 mph is the difference between life and death, what are these cars made of…tissue?

  • avatar
    IBx1

    Good. Destroy all the speed cameras and watch when accidents and fatalities go down.

    • 0 avatar

      They might. A number of towns in Europe have experimented, successfully, with eliminating most traffic laws. Human beings, it seems, are capable of acting like human beings.

      • 0 avatar
        Erikstrawn

        You still have to have a standard so that when that one dirtbag routinely does 100 mph through city streets you can do something about it. Laws should be about setting standards for curbing dangerous behavior, not about making people meet an arbitrary standard.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Shhh…you’re interrupting the libertarian “we all just regulate ourselves” magical thinking.

          (The problem with “just remove all the laws and let people self-regulate” isn’t that people will do stuff that they shouldn’t, but rather that they’ll start getting away with it.)

      • 0 avatar
        trackratmk1

        @ronnie thanks to Hans Monderman for his wonderful contributions to society. I hope his work is implemented on much grander scale.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        But Europeans tend to be a lot more human on average than Americans. Americans would see that as a license to do whatever they want, screw the other guy.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    That’s not all the Yellow Vests are doing…

  • avatar
    arach

    This is the greatest movement for liberty in the modern age.

    J’aime les Gilets Jaunes.

    Je suis fier de mon héritage français!

  • avatar

    I have driven extensively in France for 3 decades. Well over a majority of the km involved do NOT need 80 kph limits for safety, the 90 limits were correct for the actual conditions. The French psyche is different than the US and heavy protests are a lot more common. It might well be that the yellow vests will force the French government to back down.

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      I find the french psyche to be much more like the US than any other european country I’ve experienced.

      I always chuckle when I see Facebook posts from my gun toting, 4 wheeling relatives. I’d call them Redneck in the states, but they are 1 hr south of Strasbourg (Mulhouse). I spent some time living in Grenoble. Culture there was similar to that of a place like seattle.

      • 0 avatar
        Add Lightness

        I have always thought of France as the USA of Europe with the biggest difference being the right wing politicians believe climate change is caused by humans and are seriously trying to reduce CO2 emissions.

        BTW, drivers are very well advised of upcoming camera locations and 80 KPH on a lot of D roads can still be seriously fast as France has not made all roads SUV compliant.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    In addition to Lafayette and the D-Day landings, revulsion for speed cameras is another thing that will bond the French and American peoples.

  • avatar
    65corvair

    While I’m against violent protests, I have not problem destroying speed and radar cameras. I am a strong believer in automotive safety, but cameras aren’t about safety, but taxation.

    • 0 avatar
      EGSE

      A county executive in Maryland effectively said as much during an interview on a radio talk program. He talked about two speed cameras the county put in and stated how good it was that they brought in 2.7 million bucks, then quickly tried to say it was about safety and not about money.

      That county exec was later busted for corruption. The U-tube link is worth a listen.

      y o u tubedotcom/watch?v=5ZmJ24IEfEk

      Talk about dirty money…..

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Europe in general does this sort of thing reasonably though. The fines are pretty low, and there is no BS with points on your license and insurance company gouging in most countries. In many places there is a warning sign, because the cameras really are in places where speeding could be an issue – just before a town center for example.

      Definitely NOT the cash grab that they usually are in the US.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    I support. I wish, yellow vests came with some side arm.

  • avatar
    MoparRocker74

    VIVE LA FRANCE!!!

    Good for Frenchmen, sending a LONG overdue message. Government governs only with the consent of the people, and when government oversteps freedom, it’s the people’s job to push back and HARD. Can’t wait to see this here in the US.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Keep up the good work, boys (and girls)!

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    “Emmanuel Barbe, who heads the Sécurité Routière, the French government’s road safety agency, gravely warned that disabling the speed cameras would lead to more carnage on the roads. ‘This damage to the speed camera network… will lead to deaths. And that makes me profoundly sad,’”

    What a pantywaist.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I think our crazy President T could get on board with this, and so can I.

  • avatar
    scott25

    So the one thing that can unite the B&B on all sides of the political spectrum is supporting this. I also salute them.

    • 0 avatar
      EGSE

      “So the one thing that can unite the B&B on all sides of the political spectrum is supporting this. I also salute them.”

      Outrage at being abused cuts across all ideologies.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    And folks here thought the French were wimpy. LOL…

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Hahahahahahaha!

    Protesters bad! How dare they protest those leftists!

    Speed cameras bad! Damn government overlords!

    Leftist protesters destroy speed cameras.

    Protesters……………good………….but destroying government is………..paradox, paradox, paradox…

    • 0 avatar

      It is not a leftist Government – Macron is the French version of Trump. Just like anything French it is elegant and good looking while Trump is bold into your face American approach. Macron is pro-business right wing president.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Well, yes. Brigitte is elegant and very nice looking. I suspect she is Emanuel’s prime counsel in all matters, including matters of state.

        I believe President Trump calls his own shots, as we will hear tomorrow afternoon.

        America’s leftie-libbies better buckle up. Everything President Trump has done, enacted, or proclaimed over the past 24 months has shredded or demolished the ‘crats.

  • avatar
    carguy67

    Sure hope there isn’t a speed camera on the little, two-lane backroad in the California Central Valley where I uncorked the Bullitt. Finally got it broken-in a little and got her up to 100MPH (in fourth gear).

    Ironically, I suppose, the road has a railroad crossing that’s killed a lot of people (including a family of 5 a few years ago). Millions were spent to make the crossing ‘safe’–lights, barriers, medians, curbs all over the place–and now the safety ‘experts’ are saying it’s more dangerous than ever:

    https://preview.tinyurl.com/yatdnvf8

    Double ironic: the road is named ‘Terminal Avenue.’

  • avatar
    James2

    IIRC, the yellow vests are also protesting an increase in the gas tax. Have they considered that driving faster is, in a roundabout way, an increase in the gas tax?

  • avatar
    Michael Reese

    Hmm,wonder if we Chicagoans could get a few to come over and give pointers on redlight cameras..

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I’m in support of these guys I *think* ~ speed traps for revenue are flat wrong as are the red light cams that are rigged to generate tickets instead of punishing red light runners .

    I was in East Los Angeles in the rain to – day, by Purgatory Pizza on 1st. watching the red light camera flash at almost every passing vehicle including the Metro trains, all on the green…..

    I have _zero_ problem with the disabling or vandalizing of these cameras when they’re not doing the public any good .

    I keep wondering when Americans will rise up and do the same .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    EGSE

    I live in Maryland. We have speed cameras in some areas. There are also radar devices that say “your speed is” and indicate the speed in large numerals but don’t take pictures, they just try to shame you if you’re lead-footing it. One popped up a block from the defense contractor I was working at. We had contests to see how high we could get it to read and we’d boast about our achievements.

    Another appeared on a mountain road I took going to a different job. One day it didn’t light up when I approached. Getting closer it was clear someone had nailed it with a shotgun; the numerous pellet marks gave it away. It never reappeared.

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