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'Margin of tolerance' on speeding in Zone 30 to be abolished
The “margin of tolerance” which allowed drivers to exceed the speed limit in 30kph zones within the Brussels-Capital region will be abolished, according to justice minister Vincent Van Quickenborne.
Anyone driving over the posted speed limit will now receive a ticket, although the six kilometre per hour “technical correction” margin which takes into account potential errors with speed cameras will remain.
The “margin of tolerance” allowed cars in Brussels’ Zone 30 to drive up to 46km/h before being penalised. The controversial policy was put in place to limit the number of official reports on traffic violations that officials feared would become too large and unmanageable for the judicial system when the Zone 30 was introduced at the start of 2021.
Several road safety associations reacted with concern when a memo from the Brussels prosecutor's office, which stated that zero tolerance in Zone 30 was no longer the norm but the exception, was leaked to the press in March this year.
"The findings of speeding offences will only be the subject of a report if the corrected speed exceeds the maximum speed limit, increased by 10kph," the memo, reported by Sudpresse, stated. This suggested that a speed of up to 46km/h in a Zone 30 area would go unpunished.
"It had been agreed with the public prosecutor's office and the police areas that, at the beginning of 2021, we were more in the pedagogical approach to Zone 30,” said a spokesperson for Brussels Mobility at the time. “We didn’t want to photograph and fine everyone for the sake of it especially during the Covid period, this would add oil to the fire. On the other hand, this memo has a limited duration, from 3 February 3 to 2 May. An evaluation will take place in April.”
In addition to abolishing the tolerance, Van Quickenborne also plans to do away with the ticketing quotas established by some public prosecutors in different regions, which often result in the cameras simply turning off once they have flashed a predetermined number of vehicles.
“Speed cameras and section controls will be able to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Van Quickenborne said.
Extra police judges are being recruited in anticipation of an increase in tickets once the margins and quotas are removed, with a goal of adding 45 employees to public prosecutors’ offices and 30 employees for police courts by the end of 2022. "We are going to invest in the Brussels public prosecutor's office and the Brussels police court and remove step-by-step the margins of tolerance," Van Quickenborne said.
“We welcome every measure to increase the chance of being caught,” said a spokesperson for the traffic institute Vias (formerly the Belgian Road Safety Institute). “Research shows that the chance of being caught is much more important than the amount of a fine in order to change behaviour.”