France employs fleet of unmarked Renault Meganes to fight speeders
Despite the picturesque countryside and unblemished roads, driving through France is never quite the relaxing experience one expects.
Firstly, motorists have to check their glove compartment to make sure a breathalyser kit is present. Then there is the compulsory high-vis vest and finally, drivers must turn off any technology that warns of upcoming speed cameras or face a €1,500 fine.
Now motorists have to face another threat in the form of an unmarked Reanult Megane that can snap speeders thanks to a dashboard-mounted camera and a radar detector embedded in the back of the number plate.
A fleet of 300 of such vehicles will be put into action on March 15th in about 20 departments across France. The cars can easily spot vehicles and photograph the number plate without the need of a flash.
While the cars themselves have no markings, the officers behind the wheel will be in uniform. Initially, only speeding cars that overtake the unmarked Meganes will be given a ticket.
The French trial could be replicated in the UK, especially if it is proven to reduce road fatalities. High speed was the cause of 26% of road deaths in France in 2012. A breakdown of the figures reveals this represents about 1,000 deaths on French motorways in 2012 due to excess speed.
"Obviously, if it is a weapon against idiot drivers then one cannot be against it; but if it is just a new way to trap drivers it will lead to real hostility against speed cameras," Pierre Chasseray of drivers' group 40 Millions d'Automobilistes said on French radio station Europe 1.