Lidars spread over 250 locations in Wallonia
By the end of this year semi-mobile speed radars will be spread over 250 locations all over Wallonia. Since September 2016, Walloon Minister for Road Safety Maxime Prévot (cdH) has made it possible to police zones to borrow for free a semi-mobile Lidar system to set up speed traps where needed. And demand is high.
“Since January we have installed 115 systems in Wallonia”, says Pierre Grisard from Securoad, the company that has won the tender to commercialize all the Lidars. In the first three months the first Lidars were placed, 30.184 infringements have been registered, being 10.000 per month or 355 per day. A number that will increase significantly.
“Now that all police zones have access, 35 of them have called upon us for the renting system and we install an average of 8 systems per week in Wallonia”, Grisard adds. He foresees 250 systems being installed by the end of the week. In the Brussels Region, Securoad installs 3 systems per week.
30.000 flashes a week
These Lidar systems, resembling a heavy safe with a camera lens, are placed for a week at time at different locations. During this week they flash independently, taking a picture of the front and the rear of the vehicle with a remarkable efficiency. After a week, batteries need to be recharged.
“These radars deliver an amazing amount of work”, Grisard says. “In some cities they flash between 3 and 4.000 times a week. The record was 30.000 in one week at a road warf in Sambreville. And all of this in spite of people having devices like Coyotes or apps for signaling speed traps”.
Smudged, shot at and dragged away
More and more acts of violence of raged drivers againts Lidars are registered. “We stopped counting the incidents”, Grisard tells. “We have dozens of them every year. Last week we saw three acts of vandalism. One was smudged with paint, another was put on fire and a third was shot at with a .22 caliber”.
“It’s stupid to do that, because we always find the offender. And its almost as secure as a safe. It is never put out of service”, Grisard adds. The machine, weighing between 2 and 3 tons, has a fire-extinguisher inside that goes off automatically when to much heat is sensed. Behind its blinded glass, it has seven cameras, ideal for taking a picture of the vandal or a lincence plate.
Only once a Lidar was put out of service when an angry trucker towed it behind its truck for 600 meters on the A54 highway near Luttre (Hainaut). It is the only case in several years the device really suffered.
Luckily, because a Lidar like this costs around 200.000 euro. Today Securoad disposes of a dozen Lidars to be borrowed, aiming to expanding this to twenty to cope with the growing demand.
775.250 speed infringements per year
According to the Walloon agency for road safety AWSR speeding is still a major cause for accidents. Today Wallonia has 78 mobile radars and 218 fixed speed trap boxes with 67 radars being moved from box to box and one average speed radar at the tunnel in Cointe (Liège). They accounted for registering 775.250 infringements in 2016, being sligthly less then in 2014 (852.271).
Minister Prévot will install a dozen new average speed traps in sensible zones, he announced earlier. The Belgian institute for road safety IBSR/BIVV is in favour of installing more average speed radars. Lidars are very effective locally and for a limited time, spokesman Benoit Godart says. But they have no real effect beyond that.
In front of the office
The institute placed a Lidar itself (that is actually flashing) in front of its offices at the Chaussee de Haecht in Haren (Brussels). “We did that to prove that motorists drive slower when they detect one”, Godart says. It’s a dangerous zone with a speed limit of 50 where several deathly accidents occurred in the past. “Sometimes cars pass at 120 kph”, Godart tells.
Since the installation car drivers pass at significant lower speeds and don’t use bus lanes anymore, the spokesman adds. But outside the zone where the radar flashes, the speed isn’t decreasing. “People have the tendency to brake before the radar and give full throttle afterwards”.