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Rhineland-Pfalz takes aim at speeders by using automated cameras

By JENNIFER H. SVAN AND MARCUS KLOECKNER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 30, 2017

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Speed demons take heed: Germany’s Rhineland-Pfalz is preparing to crack down on drivers who exceed the speed limit as part of an initiative to reduce traffic-related injuries and deaths.

The state — host to the largest U.S. military community overseas — says it plans to put 15 more automated speed cameras on its roadways this year. That brings the total number in use by the state and local communities to 52, an increase of about 40 percent.

Ten of the new cameras will be semimobile, and five will be stationary, said Steffen Wehner, a spokesman for the state’s Interior Ministry.

The first five stationary cameras and the first five semimobile systems are expected to be in operation by Feb. 1, depending on the weather, Wehner said. The remaining semimobile cameras will be on the streets by mid-November and will target “accident hot spots,” he said.

The ministry said that in 2015, 194 people were killed and more than 19,000 people were injured in traffic accidents on its roadways. Nearly half of the traffic-related deaths were attributed to speeding, officials said.

“Every dead person and every injured person in traffic is one too much,” Roger Lewentz, Rhineland-Pfalz interior minister, said in a statement. “Therefore, the police are going to intensify their efforts.”

The new semimobile cameras will be unmanned and can be used “around the clock” over a period of several days, officials said.

The devices look like a “stealth trailer,” Wehner said — a small white box with oblique edges that can be hitched to the back of a vehicle, moved and left, unattended, at desired locations. The manufacturer, Vitronic, calls them the “enforcement trailer” on its website.

The trailer’s unusual appearance, however, will make them easy to spot, Wehner said, and that’s the point: Once people realize that the devices can be moved to any location, they’ll pay closer attention to their driving habits.

The locations of the five new stationary cameras aren’t a secret: One is planned for the Mainzer Ring near Mainz; two at Woerth on A65, B10 and B9; and two at A3 Wiedbachtal Landkreis Neuwied, near Neustadt an der Wied.

Of the 10 semimobile units, each police department in Rhineland-Pfalz will be assigned two each.

State officials say the money raised from fines for speeding could nearly double if driving patterns do not change.

Fines for exceeding the speed limit by more than 20 kilometers per hour (12 MPH) start at 70 euros for outside city limits and 80 euros for inside city limits. Besides fines, penalties also include points against one’s driver’s license. Drivers found to exceed the speed limit by 31-40 KPM (19-24 MPH) within city limits, for example, can have driving privileges suspended for a month.

Under the German traffic point system, 8 points triggers a revocation.

svan.jennifer@stripes.com

An automatic speed camera enforces the speed limit on a German roadside. Germany's state of Rheinland-Pfalz plans to crack down on excessive speeding by adding 15 more cameras to its roadways in 2017.
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