The information eventually struggled through my thoughts on credits, savings and banks and I realised I was speeding slightly, so slowed down. Probably not enough though, so I warned my DB he could probably expect an envelope in the post (which I would of course pay!).
Funnily enough, this week too, I was sent a link to a video made by the Ligue de Défense des Conducteurs on the over-zealous use of radars by the cops. The LDC are particularly incensed at the blatant manipulation of the truth by the government which declares that the new repressive regime is all about road safety and saving lives. We are all for road safety and saving lives, but let's face it, the only way for there to be zero fatalities is to ban cars and motorbikes, so there has to be a balance.
At the heart of the new imbalance is business, money and jobs for the boys (who'd a thunk). The ethylotest (to test for alcohol) was the first main example. Manufacturers of the test lobbied the government and persuaded ministers that by making them obligatory they would show how dedicated they are to saving lives, and be able to introduce a new PV (fine) of €11 for non-possession. For their part, manufacturers were guaranteed 100% of a market of 40million drivers... Luckily there was an outcry and the law was quietly dropped, especially seeing as the test didn't even work properly!
Giddy with the prospect of other, more successful ideas, the government called upon the private sector to come up with products to fill the market, such as radars. Last year, the PV harvest brought in €1.6billion. To cope with the avalanche of envelopes, a lovely new processing centre of 11,000m² was built where operators seize 500 license plates per hour and send out around 60,000 envelopes per day.
Repression on the roads is reaching epic proportions here. In 2002 drivers lost 3million points on their license; in 2011 they lost 12 million points. About 85,000 people lost their license completely, often losing their job at the same time, and not because they are speed junkies - 95% of all speeding fines concern speeds of less than 20km/hr over the limit.
But surely, the number of deaths is going down so this must be a good thing... no? We are told that repression saves lives, but that is a gross exaggeration. What has been saving lives since the early 70s are safer cars, improvements to roads, airbags, making danger spots safe, quicker intervention by the rescue services, campaigns against drink driving, and more awareness by drivers of the dangers.
|The virtuous circle of road and car improvements has led to fewer deaths on the roads|
The truth is, repression brings in massive amounts of money. But it's not just all about speeding. The police have quotas to fill too - a certain number of PV for each type of offence: jumping a red light, parking, not stopping at a Stop sign, not wearing a seatbelt, and even 51 'refusals to comply' which means that the policeperson will have to provoke drivers to the point where they stop cooperating - definitely an important one that will save countless lives, no doubt.
If you live in France and don't agree with this 'matraquage du conducteur', the Ligue de Défense des Conducteurs has put an 8-question survey online to ask drivers what they think. They need 5million responses, so please please take a couple of minutes to fill it in here: Consultation Nationale sur la Securité Routière.
One proof that this is all about jobs for the boys was visible on Facebook today. I saw that someone had posted a picture showing a radar that had been out of service for three weeks because the company that owned it hadn't paid the electricity bill, a company whose CEO was none other than the brother of Gilles de Robien, former Minister of Transport, as it happens...
Repression for road safety my arse, basically.