French protesters vandalize traffic cameras

Yellow vest protesters have vandalized most of France’s fixed-speed cameras since the anti-government revolt began over seven weeks ago.

A woman wearing a yellow vest, as a symbol of protest against higher fuel prices, waves a French flag during clashes with police on Paris' Champs Elysee in November. File Photo by Christophe Petit Tesso
A woman wearing a yellow vest, as a symbol of protest against higher fuel prices, waves a French flag during clashes with police on Paris’ Champs Elysee in November. File Photo by Christophe Petit Tesso

A French Ministry of the Interior spokesman told CNN 60 percent of fixed-speed cameras have been damaged by yellow vest demonstrators since the protests against a fuel tax hike and other rising costs broke out Nov. 17.
Protesters are revolting against the government lowering speed limits last year to 50 mph on many main roads, which they say was done to generate money, leeching on the poor.

Officials say damaged cameras create danger.

“I saw on social networks a few fools who appear next to burnt speed cameras,” Interior Minister Christophe Castaner told reporters Thursday. “I do not wish for them to one day face the reality of a death on the road. It’s not about figures, it’s about life.”

France’s road safety agency chief Emmanual Barbe warned that it was a “life-and-death” issue.

“Road safety is a matter of life and death, or injury, or disability, or mutilation,” Barbe told Inter France. “To destroy radars is to lower everyone’s safety level.”

The cost of repairing speed cameras ranges from $574 for minor repairs to $69,000 for replacement.

France could also lose billions in speeding fines.

Roads and motorway toll booths have also been blocked over the protests.

The yellow vest movement is named after the high-visibility vests every driver in the country must keep in their vehicle.

BySommer Brokaw