New private speed camera cars patrolling France - explained

With hundreds of thousands of British drivers heading to France, reports of private speed camera cars catching more than half a million drivers will offer a warning to all motorists planning to cross the Channel. This follows on from the introduction of Nano Parifex speed cameras that are said to be unbeatable.

Here motoring journalist and expert Pete Barden takes an in-depth look at the speed camera cars and if British-registered drivers need to be concerned about being caught in their lenses.

Woman stressed searching for Amazon contact with real personNew speed cameras cars are prowling French roads - here are the details  (Credit: European Roads/Flikr)

More unmarked private speed camera cars coming to French roads

Along with existing areas where the private speed camera cars operate, see lower down for more information, starting next year, unmarked private speed camera radar cars will begin patrolling roads in three additional regions of France.

These vehicles, which track drivers' speed from concealed positions along pre-determined routes, will soon be operational in:

  • Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes,
  • Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur,
  • Occitanie.

What are the private speed camera cars in France?

The cars first came into action in 2018 and are typically driven by non-police operators. The cars are all unmarked and look just like normal cars driving on the roads – with no signage to reveal their true purpose.

The cars can catch speeding drivers while they drive, and do not have to park and set-up a camera to target approaching traffic.

It has also been confirmed that the drivers do not get paid according to the number of speeding tickets they give out. They must also stick to assigned routes.

Private speed cameras typically operated on the roads for shifts of six hours at a time.

How prevalent are the private speed camera cars in France?

It has been reported that the private speed camera cars checked more than 6.5million vehicles in 2021, and that they caught over 500,000 of these cars breaking the speed limit, according to figures from the Sécurité routière.

That figure equates to 38% of speeding violations recorded by all sources in France, a figure that has increased from just 9% in 2020.

As an example of how prevalent these care are, according to la Ligue de défense des conducteurs, a French group supporting motorists, each car is estimated to generate €194,000 per year in fines for the state.

Where are the private speed camera cars most active?

Figures show that 96% of the speed checks carried out by the cars were on roads where the speed limit was 80km/h or 90km/h. These are typically main roads outside of city centres.

Just 77,000 of the checks took place on roads where the speed limit was 110km/h or 130km/h.

Do the cars operate at night, weekends or bank holidays?

The cars operate seven days a week, both day and night, including bank holidays. However, each vehicle is only active for approximately six hours a day.

Where are the camera cars operating in France?

At the time of writing, the cameras are active in eight regions of France: Normandy, Brittany, Pays de la Loire, Centre-Val de Loire, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Grand-Est, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté and Hauts-de-France.

From 2025, the new private speed camera cars will also operate in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, and Occitanie..

How can the speed camera cars be spotted?

While the cars are not marked and look just like normal cars, they have a camera to the rear, which looks like a black square. Additionally, there are two smaller cameras that can often be seen through the rear screen.

At night, the cameras have small red lights that can often by spotted within the car.

There will also be a large black box placed on the dashboard, which contains a camera and controls to operate the systems.

What type of cars are used for the private speed camera operators?

The main models of private speed camera cars are: Citroën Berlingo, Dacia Sandero, Ford Focus, Peugeot 208, 308, 508 and Partner, Renault Megane, Seat Leon, Skoda Octavia, Volkswagen Passat and Golf.

How else can I recognise the cars?

There is French website that is attempting to collect the numberplates of all undercover police and private speed camera cars. You can visit the site here and search by region.

What are the fines from these cars?

Fines vary based on how much a driver exceeds the speed limit. They start at €68 and a point deduction for being less than 20 km/h over the limit and can go up to €1,500 and a three-year ban for those exceeding the limit by more than 50 km/h.

Can British drivers get fines from the private speed camera cars?

While we should all respect speed limits, drivers with UK number plates will not be sent fines after violations caught by French private speed camera cars. The ability to find information on UK drivers ended with Brexit. Brit drivers can still be presented with on-the-spot fines.

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Author: Pete Barden:

Twitter: @pete_barden

Pete Barden is a qualified journalist who has written and produced for publications including The Sun (, New Statesman Media Group, Whatcar? ( Stuff Magazine (, Fastcar Magazine (, Maxim Magazine and UK broadcast stations within the Heart network (Formerly GCAP). Pete specialises in motoring and travel content, along with news and production roles. You can find out more about Pete Barden on LinkedIn.

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