The speed camera marathon has started: because of the campaign in several federal states, drivers will have to be prepared for increased radar checks on Friday. As part of a Europe-wide initiative, the police want to pull speeders off the road and draw attention to the danger of driving too fast. Flashes should be used especially in front of schools, daycare centers, retirement homes and at accident black spots. Experts doubt the added value of the action. There is also criticism from the ranks of the police.

“Penalties are not the goal, they are just the means,” says Henk Jansen from the European traffic police network “Roadpol”. The aim is to make speed offenders aware of their dangerous behavior. The campaign is part of the Europe-wide “Speedmarathon”, which has been running since Monday. It is therefore the tenth time that European traffic police have acted together against speeders.

The states are taking different approaches. Flashes have been used in some places since Monday – but Berlin, Bremen and Saarland are not taking part at all. The action is primarily aimed at prevention, says a spokesman for the Saarland police. “However, the success of such measures is difficult to measure, which is why the relationship between costs and benefits cannot be estimated.” In recent years, too, individual countries have opted out of the campaign due to excessive costs or a lack of staff.

Some police stations announce where the speed cameras are located. It is different in Baden-Württemberg, for example: “We want road users to adhere to the applicable speed limits across the board and not just at certain points,” said the Ministry of the Interior.

Even if motorists often know where the laser is, the ADAC automobile club believes that the campaign makes a contribution to road safety. They would thus be made aware of the dangers of driving too fast – also because it is reported more than usual in the media.

Where the police do not reveal the locations, the traffic radio can help. On the other hand, the so-called speed camera apps, in which road users warn each other about the controls, are not allowed. Incidentally, the passenger is not allowed to use the app either, as the Karlsruhe Higher Regional Court ruled in February.

Michael Schreckenberg, traffic expert at the University of Duisburg, doubts the usefulness of the marathon. “Drivers adjust their speed for the next lightning marathon, but not in general,” he told the German Press Agency. He does not see any benefit beyond the day of action.

In the past it has also been shown that people simply left their cars at the speed camera days. “People have become much more flexible,” says Schreckenberg. It remains to be seen whether this will also be the case on Friday, when railway employees go on strike.

According to traffic psychologist Karl-Friedrich Voss, flashing is hardly suitable per se for slowing down speeders. “More is needed, for example structural measures such as lane changes at town entrances,” says Voss. This can be an island in the middle of the lane, for example, which gives the road a kink. “They have proven themselves over the years.”

The police union (GdP) is also critical of the speed camera marathon. “A time-limited speed measurement does not necessarily lead to lasting changes in driving behavior,” says Vice Chairman Michael Mertens. Outside of the focus controls, the risk of being caught is far too low. “Secondly, we are still driving in a fine discount country in this country,” says Mertens.

Since the end of 2021, however, anyone who drives too quickly into the radar check has had to dig deeper into their pockets. The new catalog of fines penalizes illegal parkers and speed offenders in some cases much more severely. As a result, the income of a number of cities in the first half of 2022 was already significantly higher than in the same period of the previous year, as a survey by the German Lawyers’ Association’s Traffic Law Working Group showed.

The speed camera marathon on Friday is not the last in the current year, as the ADAC announced. In the middle of the holiday season, from August 7th to 13th, the police are planning their next action.