Protesters Have Damaged or Destroyed a Majority of France's Speed Cameras

Ronnie Schreiber
by Ronnie Schreiber
protesters have damaged or destroyed a majority of frances speed cameras

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, 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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  • -Nate -Nate on Jan 17, 2019

    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

  • EGSE EGSE on Jan 17, 2019

    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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  • Cprescott It is not a disaster like the 2024 Ford Mustake.