Be careful if you drive south next Pentecost weekend. Belgium is not only the country of many types of beer, but nowadays also of well-functioning route controls.
The Netherlands has section controls on eleven main roads and 20 provincial roads in both directions. Belgium now has 281. Then there are almost a hundred more than six months ago, according to figures released this month by the Ministry of the Interior. And new routes are added every day. Minister Annelies Verlinden expects that no fewer than 400 route checks will be in operation by the end of this year.
And they really work too. The latter was not self-evident for a long time. Last year, two-thirds of the route controls installed in Belgium did not function due to coordination problems: the measuring equipment is in Flemish and Walloon hands. The database in which the data is stored belongs to the federal government. And they didn’t match at first. “I am ashamed of this,” said the then Minister of the Interior in 2021. But thanks to better software and extra staff, there is now capacity to process 4.8 million speeding fines annually, reports Minister Verlinden. That is about 13,150 per day, or almost 550 fines per hour, De Standaard calculated.
With an average speed check, a car is not flashed at one moment, but the average speed is measured over a longer distance. That actually forces you to drive slower. At one speed camera, the motorist – provided the speed camera is discovered in time, for example with the help of an app – can slow down and continue. Some stretches in Flanders are up to 20 kilometers long and they are no longer always announced with a traffic sign. The latter is also new. The Roads and Traffic Agency, which is responsible for this, believes that there are already too many signs along the roads and has decided to remove these.
With disastrous consequences for some motorists. This month, a man from Liege traveling up and down the coast was ticketed seven times. Het Nieuwsblad also wrote about a family that was ticketed several times every day for three weeks at a local route control, which the family thought did not work. The fines have risen to 6,000 euros.
Because yes, it can take weeks before a ticket is received. The Flemish institute for road safety, VIAS, is now calling for an SMS alert when a motorist has been flashed. Justice is not in favor of this: not only because it then has to set up a system to immediately retrieve a telephone number in the event of an inspected license plate, but also because text messages are not a reliable way of communication. They are too often used for fraud. It recommends checking the Belgian version of Mijnoverheid.nl regularly, where the fines appear when the fine is sent by post. For Dutch drivers, there is little choice but to stick to the speed limit. The fine for 1 kilometer too fast is already 63 euros – you can buy 20 different beers for that.
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