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Speed checks to be constantly active and tolerance margins removed on Belgian motorways
By the summer, speed checks on Belgian highways will be constantly active with tolerance margins for speeding being abolished, VRT news reports.
Currently, not all cameras are activated or only flash when the speed is much higher than the permitted speed. That's because there are too few people at the public prosecutor's offices to prosecute all traffic violations.
The tolerance margin introduces a certain speed threshold for drawing up an official report. In some places, that tolerance margin is now much higher than the permitted speed on the road signs. Consequently, traffic offenders in those zones are de facto not fined for lighter speeding offences. The tolerance margins may vary from region to region and are mainly applied in Brussels and Wallonia. In Brussels, for example, flashing is only done from 47 km per hour in a Zone 30 area.
In Flanders, quotas are used. The speed cameras only work half the time in many places, which also reduces the chance of being caught.
However, Minister of Justice Vincent Van Quickenborne has announced that from the summer, speed checks will always be active and will flash as soon as a driver exceeds the maximum permitted speed. However, a small margin will still be applied to compensate for technical errors in the measuring devices. That margin is six kilometres per hour for all zones where you can drive a maximum of 100 kilometres per hour.
As soon as the speed threshold goes above that, 120 for example, the margin is six percent on that allowed speed. In concrete terms, there will still only be flashing from a speed of 129 km/h.
Pilot project already carried out in Wallonia and Flanders
In October, a pilot project began in several places in which the tolerance margins and quotas were abolished. On five Walloon routes, flashing was done from 129 km/h instead of 141 km/h. On two Flemish routes, the section checks worked permanently instead of two weeks per month.
The abolition of the quotas logically resulted in a doubling of the chances of being caught. The abolition of the tolerance margin on the Walloon motorways, on the other hand, led to five times more speeding offences. During the test, some 30,000 additional fines were issued.
This increase is temporary, Van Quickenborne explained. "We know from experience in other places that in less than a year, the number of violations detected returns to the old level because people adjust their driving behaviour and moderate speed."
Better progress for road safety
Where the tolerance margins were abolished, the average corrected speed dropped from 130 to 120 km/h, which, according to research by traffic institute VIAS, means enormous progress for road safety. The risk of fatalities would decrease by more than 30%.
The police and public prosecutor's office will be given extra resources to handle fines. According to the minister, 58 extra forces will be deployed in the Regional Processing Centres of the federal police, which are responsible for drawing up the fines. The public prosecutor's offices and the police courts will also be strengthened.
Last year, 484 people were killed in accidents on Belgian roads. In 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic had an impact on traffic, there were 644. That is proportionally a lot more than in many other European countries.