Switzerland has some of the world’s stiffest penalties for speeding. In exceptional cases fines can rise to a percentage of the drivers income in addition to licence removal and prison time. In 2010, a wealthy speeder was fined CHF 299,000 for driving at 140 km/h in a 100 km/h zone.
Swiss road rules became stricter in 2013 after the government passed new laws known as Via sicura in 2012. These new regulations also made it illegal to warn the public where speed cameras are located. However, the new law did not prevent cantonal authorities from pointing out the cameras, something a number of cantons have decided to do, reports RTS.
The cantons of St. Gallen, Ticino and more recently Basel-Landschaft have all decided to advertise the whereabouts of their speed cameras in a bid to cut the number of accidents. In the canton of Solothurn a proposal to follow these three cantons is before the government.
Road users in these cantons are still strictly banned from publicly sharing information on the location of speed cameras and speed detecting officers. And using coded phrases such as “a paparazzi” or “smile” does not make any difference.
In 2020, around 200 people were brought to justice for publicly sharing such information via WhatsApp and Facebook in the canton of Bern, reported RTS. At a certain number of participants social media groups reach a tipping point where they are considered public.
The argument in favour of advertising the location of speed cameras is that it reduces accidents. If drivers know there’s a speed camera they slow down to avoid fines. If they don’t they might not.
In St. Gallen the number of accidents has fallen by 15% since it introduced the practice, although the link remains unclear. The nature of the warning may matter too. Not all types of speed detection have their locations revealed and the location indicated is often approximate to maintain an element of surprise.
Not all cantons are convinced however. In Bern two such proposals have been rejected by the government and in French-speaking Switzerland there are few signs of a change in policy. Instead Geneva seems to have increased the amount of speed testing it does.
And there is a potential conflict of interest. Advertising the location of speed cameras might reduce accidents but it might also reduce the revenue that comes from issuing tickets.