An Epidemic of Traffic Radar Camera Destruction in France

The gilets jaunes movement in France, with its street protests and blockades, has been getting all the press — and has indeed forced significant and painful concessions from the government, while it has grown beyond the control of its founders. But under the radar (or upon the radars, as it were), another significant protest has been taking place: the widespread disabling of traffic-ticket-generating roadside cameras.

While the gilets jaunes were in the streets, they and their allies were also knocking those cameras out of service — by the hundreds! One site that has been tracking reports noted 200 cameras disabled over the course of a single weekend, making about 870 total over the gilets jaunes protest period — about 25% of all such cameras in the country. Another year-long estimate says there have been 1,500 attacks on the 3,200 speed cameras in the country, some 250 of which resulted in the complete destruction of the device.

Many other cameras have been only temporarily disabled, for example by having a yellow vest taped over the lens. Law enforcement can quickly bring these back into service. But others have been painted over, which necessitates hundreds of euros of repair time. The ones that have been utterly destroyed must be replaced at a cost of tens of thousands of euros. This in addition to the loss of revenue from foregone traffic fines, which can be tens of thousands of euros per day per camera.

Several of the many recent reports from around France and French territories:

The variety of methods used in these attacks, even in the same area — with attackers sometimes destroying or further-damaging radars that have already been taken out of service by other methods — suggests that it is relatively spontaneous, unorganized, and attracts many practitioners.