Belgium axes ‘margin of tolerance’ for speeding offences

Belgian justice minister Vincent Van Quickenborne (Flemish liberal) is abolishing the margin of tolerance for traffic fines.  This means that you can be fined from the minute you exceed the technical margin of error that will continue to apply. Are we getting too technical?

The margin of tolerance as it exists today means that motorists are only fined for speeding when the speed that they were measured travelling at exceeds a certain threshold.  The threshold differs from place to place and was introduced because some public prosecutors’ offices didn’t have enough staff to process traffic fines.  In some places this threshold is strikingly high e.g. in Brussels where only motorists speeding at 47km/h or more are fined in 30km/h zones. Under the present system minor speeding offences in Brussels are hardly fined.

This is set to change as the margin of tolerance is being axed across the country, but this doesn’t mean that you will be fined from the minute the police measure you speeding over the limit.  There is also a technical margin of error that takes account of any inaccuracy in measuring equipment. It’s 6km/h in all zones where 100km/h is the top speed.  At higher speeds the margin is 6% of the permitted speed limit.

The change forms part of a drive to increase road safety that will include speed cameras that remain active around the clock. A new federal public prosecutors’ office for road safety is being established.  The federal office will provide support to local prosecutors when it comes to the administration of traffic fines.  The number of traffic fines meted out is expected to rise by the end of the year as more and more efficient checks are undertaken.

In future spead cameras will operate around the clock and this also goes for average speed camera systems.  At the minute only a third of these systems operate.

Top stories