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Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Marseille's overzealous radars have motorists seeing red

Careful how you drive if you happen to be paying a visit to the southeastern French city of Marseille.

Recently-installed radars are doing their work - and then some - and not always to the benefit of the law-abiding motorist it would appear.

In a manner of speaking they're going into overdrive to such an extent that they're even flashing stationary motorists...or nothing at all.

The "culprits" - for let's call them that - are radars installed at traffic lights at notoriously busy junctions in the city.

There are five of them so far and their arrival was greeted with something of a fanfare when they were first made an appearance in France's second largest city last October.

The intention was and remains not to measure whether drivers were keeping to the speed limit, but simply to ensure they respected the traffic lights.

There were a few (inevitable) teething problems in the first couple of weeks, when some of the radars were taking their job a little too seriously and flashing any and every passing vehicle, no matter what colour the light.

But as it was a test phase during which no fines were being handed out for motorists "caught on camera", their installation was greeted with what could perhaps be called a certain degree of "favourable sceptism".

According to a poll conducted at the time by the regional newspaper, La Provence, 58 per cent of those questioned said they welcomed the new radars.

Admittedly there were of course some who thought that the whole scheme was just another way of the local authority to increase its coffers with each infraction carrying not only a loss of points but also a €135 fine.

Those initial problems don't seem to have been solved though, and the radars are still flashing in cases where there has been no infraction and that opens up the way for anyone to make a challenge as far as a local lawyer, Arnaud Attal is concerned.

"The system just isn't reliable," he says.

"I dread to how often people who cross these junctions several times a day such as local traders are being 'flashed' (for no reason at all)," he continues.

"Sometimes the radars go off when there isn't even a car around."

Whatever the problems drivers in Marseille might currently be facing, the problem could get worse.

The scheme is due to be widened to include 150 similar radars being installed in the whole of the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (PACA) in south-eastern France.

Happy driving?

1 comment:

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