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Ban speed camera warning devices, says Belgian traffic safety institute

09:00 25/01/2024

Belgian traffic safety institute Vias is calling for a ban on speed camera detectors and other types of warning systems that alert drivers to police controls.

In Belgium, more than one in three drivers (37%) regularly uses one or more warning systems - for example Coyote, Waze or TomTom Go - that alert users to the location of speed cameras and other police checks.

But a Vias study found that, despite the warnings, drivers who use such devices receive 50% more fines per kilometre than others.

According to the study, which was commissioned by the Belgian government and carried out over two years, drivers equipped with a speed camera warning system are more likely to get fines because they disobey road rules under the assumption that they will be tipped off to any checks, which is not always the case.

“Drivers whose cars are fitted with a radar warning device think that they will always be warned if they are being checked, so they also assume that if there is no warning, there is no risk of being checked, and they tend to drive faster,” said Benoît Godart, spokesman for the Vias Institute.

These drivers are also more likely to think that there is no danger in speeding if the road is empty - a sentiment shared by 26% of them compared with 19% for non-users of warning systems - and are facing additional distractions from visual and audio alerts (or even ads) from the apps and devices, and can potentially evade police alcohol checks.

“It’s easy for a driver who has had too much to drink to change route and avoid getting caught,” Godart said.

“The effect on road safety is therefore clearly negative, especially as the drivers concerned are likely to take a longer route than initially planned, which increases the risk of accidents.”

Vias recommends that Belgian legislation be adapted and that systems for evading mobile police controls be banned, a measure already in force in countries such as Switzerland and Germany.

The institute pointed out that Belgium's objective is to reduce the number of road deaths to 320 by 2030 and, with this in mind, such a ban “would be entirely appropriate”.

Written by Helen Lyons