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Markets in disprespect for speeding laws

Via Reason magazine’s Hit & Run blog, here is this rather amusing item about how French motorists with clean driving licences sell their speeding points online for a fee to drivers who are in danger of using up all their points and then getting banned. Yes, yes, I can see the usual Dudley Do-Rights out there bleating that this is all terribly naughty, a sign of decadence, blah, but in fact what this demonstrates, in a slightly naughty French way, is how if you oppress people enough with laws and taxes over a period of time, it breeds such disregard for the law that even laws that have sense – and driving very fast can be bloody dangerous – get spurned. (It appears the French are smarter at getting around certain rules – look at what happened to former Spurs, Manchester United and England player Teddy Sheringham for allegedly trying to pull the same speeding-point move).

I have driven a few times along France’s magnificent, sweeping autoroutes, and am occasionally reminded that France invented Formula 1 motor racing. Maybe there’s plenty of life left in Gaul yet. If only they could do capitalism in a slightly more routine way.

Talking of such alternative markets, here is an old article about the market in air miles.

13 comments to Markets in disprespect for speeding laws

  • Matt

    Good for them, I happens over here, when I was at Uni a few years ago there was quite a thriving market for foreign students who would take the points, shortly before returning home. I believe several hundred pounds was the going rate if you had 9 points.

  • RAB

    I may be being thick here (not an unusual occurence)
    But how do you work it?
    The last time my wife got a ticket it had her name on it, because the car is registered to her. Therefore her licence had to be produced for endorcement.
    Why would they take somebody elses?
    That ticket was for doing 60 on the m4 at three in the morning without another vehicle in sight!
    Best of luck those trying it though!

  • Sunfish

    RAB: What may have happened is, the camera system knows that the car was used to speed, but not the driver’s identity. The registered owner is then compelled to give up the driver. Otherwise, the camera’s operator will assume that the speeder was the RO. In the story above, I’m guessing that Jacque, the soon-to-be-suspended driver, will send in Pierre’s information instead, as Pierre has a much cleaner record, and paying Pierre for renting his identity.

    The thing that made this a head-scratcher for me was, we have a similar point system in my state: Twelve in a year is a suspension also, and speeding 10-20MPH over is typically four points. However, no points are assessed when an automated system (I.E. “photo radar,” a radar linked to a camera) is used. Our legislature realized that trusting a camera and computer to actually identify the actual driver was more than a little foolish.

    My own city doesn’t use cameras. There’s been off-and-on talk about using them for red-light enforcement, but I don’t see it any time soon. Enough people realize that it’s the points that really limit bad drivers, and that a camera won’t arrest a revoked driver or charge them for driving uninsured, or recognize that they’re driving like an ass because they’re drunk. You know, kind of like a camera won’t actually break up a fight on Main Street or shoot a suicide bomber in the head.

    Personally, I see cameras as a revenue measure more than a traffic safety measure, and that makes my life harder since I see safety as being the whole purpose of traffic enforcement. When I write paper, it’s because the place in question was sufficiently unsafe a place for that sort of driving that I want some guy to tell all his friends to watch out at the stop sign in the school zone because that prick Officer Sunfish is just waiting there and is really not nice.

    10MPH over the posted limit on a freeway is not normally worth setting down my coffee. 10MPH over in the aforementioned school zone is a little different. A reasonable, mature human being can recognize the difference and use a little judgment. A camera, well, works about as well as any other really stupid idea.

  • James Waterton

    If it works the way Sunfish describes, you’d want to be a departing foreigner. In Australia, if you’ve lost licence points, your car insurance premium seems to grow exponentially as your points are depleted.

    It would really suck if you were a local and you’d cashed in your points and then tried to insure your new car a few years down the track, only to find that long-forgotten windfall had reversed itself several times over.

  • France auto routes are fine. Their 3 lane roads terrify. I live in a Welsh village – Penyffordd District. We have 2000 speeding motorists a day. I find people standing up to traffic calming stupid. The idiots who pile through our village need a jail spell.

  • MikeG

    No Colin, what your village needs is a bypass road

  • Pa Annoyed

    “You know, kind of like a camera won’t actually break up a fight on Main Street or shoot a suicide bomber in the head.”

    Is that a good thing or a bad thing?


  • Midwesterner

    MikeG, that’s a bit like saying that because someone is firing random gunshots in the village, people need to wear body armor. No, the shooter needs arrested. This idea that society needs to pay for things to be altered to avoid discriminating against the ‘underprivileged’ is a familiar one. But it is not often expressed here. You are not entitled to anything. It is not your privilege to drive like that. If you don’t want to use the road the way it is posted, build your own bypass at your own expense.

    The absence of a bypass is not some excuse for people like you to threaten the lives of people who live there.

  • Paul Marks

    I agree that how roads should be used is up to the owners of the road (in this case the government) subject to normal common law principles (no tort damage to people on the borders of the road).

    Of course (like the “evil corrupt Warren Harding” that the establishment historians so hate) I am against big government road schemes.

  • I think this is rendered all the more germane by the recent loss of a case in the European Court. Remarkably, the judges decided that the right to privacy and the right to avoid self-incrimination were not ‘absolute rights’. In other words, those concepts articulated in the Fourth and Fifth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution find no expression in European law except in the most etiolated sense.

  • Sunfish

    I think the comments about bypass roads are silly? What’s the value of creating another road for the convenience of people who drive like asses on the first one? And who is to build it? Vogons? On whose land? With whose money?

    James Waterton:
    Funny, that’s how auto insurance rates are set in the US as well. Okay, there are a number of factors, but history of accidents and moving violations is a huge factor.

  • I don’t know. If I lived in a small quiet town that happened to sit on some kind of a major traffic route, I would be willing to pay for a bypass, even if the people driving through were all perfectly calm drivers. On the other hand, it would also make sense for the people from the municipalities that the route happens to connect to pay for the bypass, as it does drive a normal person nuts to have to slow down when they are in a hurry to get from point A to point B. I guess the financing could be a combination of both.

  • Oh, and of course there is always a possibility of a toll highway.