Lorries that overtake in the rain will be flashed automatically
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Lorries that overtake in the rain will be flashed automatically

This year will see the installation at 14 locations on roads in Flanders of cameras capable of automatically photographing lorries that overtake in the rain.

The law in Belgium forbids lorries weighing more than 7.5 tonnes from overtaking on certain stretches of road, but allows it on others.

However overtaking in the rain is forbidden on roads in Flanders with a minimum of two lanes on each carriageway.

The ban is controversial: most other countries have no such ban, and foreign truck-drivers are often unaware of the Belgian exception. At the same time, the measure is barely applied. A driver who overtakes in the rain and is spotted by police can be fined €58 for a first offence.

But until now there was no automatic way of catching offenders other than via eye-witnesses.

Now, 14 of the automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras on roads in Flanders are to be equipped with a pluviometer – an instrument which is able to measure precipitation, whether rain, hail or snow.

The cameras had originally been scheduled to be ready at the start of 2019, but there arose a problem concerning the definition of precipitation. If the rain sensor could not tell the difference between heavy mist and light rain, how could the law be applied?

Another problem was the state of the ANPR cameras in place.

After minister Weyts [then Flemish mobility minister] had taken the decision, our administration realised that the existing camera equipment was outdated,”said Veva Daniels, spokesperson for the Flemish agency for roads and traffic.

Attaching a modern pluviometer to those cameras would be like trying to link a digicorder to an old-fashioned cathode ray television, when you know there’s a flat-screen LCD TV coming in three weeks.”

In the intervening period, the agency put out to tender the contract for new cameras as well as the pluviometers attached, and those are now ready for installation.

When they will actually become operational, we’re not yet able to say,” Daniels told Het Laatste Nieuws. “That depends on how quickly the installation can take place. But once that’s sorted, lorry drivers who don’t abide by the rules in wet weather can be detected by automatic equipment.”

A map showing the placement of the 14 first cameras can be found at the website of Het Laatste Nieuws.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times