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Speed cameras...how soon do you know?...

Vancouver, Canada
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418 posts
41 reviews
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Speed cameras...how soon do you know?...

We rented a car and drove around the Loire Valley last week mostly on D and N routes and on one or two occasions passed signs indicating speed cameras. On one occasion the speed limit dropped from 90 to 70 and my husband didn't slow down right away despite my "navigating/nagging". We returned the car to Hertz last Thursday and our credit card bill shows the expected amount, but I am sure that we will be getting a speeding fine so I am trying to figure out when we will know for sure. If there is a fine I am assuming that Hertz will be given the ticket (their plates) and will pay it on our behalf and then charge our credit card. I am hoping that if this happens that they will pay it quickly so we would have to pay the lowest amount.

We were so careful with our speed, driving below the limit in many cases so we could sightsee (we just followed another slow vehicle like a transport truck). We were also driving during the week so the roads were quieter. Unfortunately we found that the speeds changed abruptly in many cases for no obvious reason (I understand speeds dropping in towns but not on straight stretches in the countryside).

Hoping that we are lucky and if not hoping that we know soon so I can stop worrying. Renting a car gave us incredible freedom and we loved driving around (Versailles to Orleans to Tours to Chinon to Chartres to Versailles) but it was also very stressful (parking, insurance, tolls, speed cameras, one way streets).

Edited: 12 July 2013, 15:40
Andrésy, France
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6,062 posts
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1. Re: Speed cameras...how soon do you know?...

Did you see a flash? I you didn't you'll probably be OK. Sometimes there's a sign saying there are speed cameras just to frighten people into slowing down. Often there's an electronic sign showing your speed several meters before the camera. Did you see one of these? Unfortunately if you were caught car rental firms add a "service charge" to the fine.

Chicago, Illinois
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79 reviews
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2. Re: Speed cameras...how soon do you know?...

the rental car company does not pay the fine; the way it works is that they charge you about 30 Euro solely to report your details to the police. then at some future date, sometimes as late as a year later -- but usually within a couple of months, you get a letter from the police with the fine. we had a fine in late October in Normandy and got the bill in January. we are very careful about speed but it is hard to break US norms where 5 or 10 MPH above the speed limit is the typical traffic flow; in France you can get nicked for being 5 or fewer kilometers above the speed limit. none of our tickets has represented more than a few km above the limit.

one advantage of a GPS is that it alerts you to the speed limit changes

Vancouver, Canada
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418 posts
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3. Re: Speed cameras...how soon do you know?...

We did see a few electronic signs and for those situations we were always below the limit. I think I am more worried about the big signs.

We had a GPS and we noticed that the speed limit circle would start flashing at us if we failed to slow down soon enough. We always slowed down but I guess I am worried that we didn't slow down soon enough. We were sightseeing and sometimes got caught up in the scenery. As well, we were often going the "speed of traffic" on busier roads so that we wouldn't impede the flow. But I am aware that the tolerance limits are zero so if we get a ticket we will just pay it and add it to the tuition fee for the school of life.

We will wait and see if Hertz charges us an admin fee in the next month or so and if not then I will relax.

Driving in France was a really great experience overall and most of our funny mishap stories are somehow car related.... like renting the car and parking it in an angled spot and then realizing the next morning that we don't know how to shift it into reverse (oh...you pull up on the stick shift first)...like stalling on the tram tracks in Orleans (not funny at the time)...like exiting the autoroute for Villandry because we see a sign that says "Aire Villandry" and finding ourselves at a giant carwash/service station...like having the gate at the autoroute exit reject my credit card and then scrambling to find E2.80 in coins (okay kids, check your pockets)...but overall it was so worth it. I will never forget the fields with wild poppies and the stone houses and the forests (my biggest surprise was how many areas in France are covered with trees).

Thanks for the clarification...I will keep my fingers crossed.

Montelimar, France
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1,197 posts
1 review
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4. Re: Speed cameras...how soon do you know?...

Yes, fingers crossed.

There is a tolerance.5km/h ,actually.

When you get caught at 54km/h it means that the radar showed 59."vitesse constatée, vitesse retenue".

So if you were driving at 75 it 's OK.At 76 you're done.

On top of that,most car speedometers appears to be slightly "optimistic".

The trouble is that we might undergo a change of legislation requiring 80 km/h on local roads and 120 on motorways.The minister in charge announced that possibility earlier today.Let's wait for the reaction of the various lobbies .

I wouldn't mind a reduction in town but would find it hard on motorways.

Montelimar, France
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5. Re: Speed cameras...how soon do you know?...

BTW, no flash with the newest radars.They can check multiple lanes and spot the difference between vehicles and their respective restrictions .

Paris, France
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for Paris, Loire Valley
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6. Re: Speed cameras...how soon do you know?...

I have been driving around France for years and consider myself well acquainted with speed limits. It used to be quite easy: 50kms in town, 90 kms outside of town. No one wants to reduce speed limits unless it is in his own neighborhood so what has happened over the years is that now many roads are 30kms in town, and 70kms is often found between the zones at 50kms and 90kms. Speed limits now change constantly and often I really do not know at what speed I should be traveling. From what was once 50/90kms to travel almost anywhere, we now have 30/50/70/90kms (and 110/130kms on divided highways and autoroutes) and the current limit at any given place is not always very clear.

All of this would not be such a difficult problem if it were not for the presents of thousands of speed cameras all over France, with more coming all of the time. Some of these are announced, some are not so speeding tickets are very, very easy to receive. Any ticket you might receive will first be indicated by a mysterious 20€, or more, charge to your car rental bill, charged by your rental company to forward your personal information to the Police. Next may or may not be the ticket from the French Police. You never can be sure of what surprises you might be receiving in the mail.

Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Train Travel
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7. Re: Speed cameras...how soon do you know?...

>>one advantage of a GPS is that it alerts you to the speed limit changes<<

Do not rely on this. A major road in Sydney had its limit reduced from 80 to 70 km/h more than 6 months ago. My GPS has had 2 map updates since then, but still shows the old limit. It shows wrong speed limits in a number of other places.

The speed limit information in a GPS is only as good as the information provided by the mapping agency of the country concerned.

Tilburg...
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11 posts
5 reviews
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8. Re: Speed cameras...how soon do you know?...

Well, actually charging foreigners for their traffic violations is a hot topic in Europe at the moment. I am from the Netherlands and we are big on privacy laws here. So 2 years ago we had a "flash" incident in France, but we never got the fine. Why? Well for France inspectors to send us our bill, they have to ask Netherlands our postal information, based solely on the licence plate of our car. However, our country refuses to share personal information with France, when all they have is a "claim" that car with number X was driving too fast.

We had a similar incident in Germany. Since ther is a special contract between Germany and NL (or they just got similar traffic systems, i dont know for sure) we got a letter, all in German, asking for our contact details. After we sent the letter back to Germany we got our fine in a sepparate letter. We only bothered to send back the letter because we often go to Germany, but I guess if we never went there again, we could have just left the fine "hanging", because why would you care that you got a fine in country X, if you never go there again? They cant actually do anything.

So this is why they are currently discussing somewhere (European Parlament?) on how to make all the systems in EU compatible and how to be fair to all. Quite possible there will never be a unified solution to this, because every country has different laws about traffic violations and privacy, but meanwhile we can all enjoy free passes as, quite often, the traffic inspectors have to throw your fine into the garbage bin if your car is from another country (like the NL). Sorry, that this, most probably, wont apply to rental cars.

9. Re: Speed cameras...how soon do you know?...

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