15 people on trial in France for alerting others to speed traps through Facebook

Alerting fellow motorists through Facebook to where speed traps are in France is apparently illegal. And so is giving police officers unflattering names, it appears.

Members of the group Which Tells You Where The Police Are In Aveyron are on trial for helping motorists and motorcyclists avoid speeding fines.

The trial against 15 people, including the group's co-founder Mathieu Chane, began on Tuesday.

The case is the first of its kind in the country.

Eight of the suspects also face charges of insulting police officers by referring to them by unflattering bird names on the site.

From hero to zero

The group's lawyer, Mr Remy Josseaume, said in court: "It is hypocritical to put these people on trial while there are many products that inform drivers where radars are positioned and they are legal."

The Facebook group was created in 2012 and has more than 10,000 members.

A message on its site says: "Alert this group if you are in a car and you see a blue (police) van, a radar or police on motorcycles in the Aveyron.

"It won’t take you more than 30 seconds and you will be a hero for people who read your message."

Respect speed limits

Mr Josseaume said that while radar detectors were banned and carried a fine of 1,500 (S$2,400) and a suspension of six points, the Facebook site could not be termed as such.

Mr Chane said the trial was "hypocritical" adding that the "judges want to make an example of us and create a precedent".

But road safety groups say such sites are dangerous.

Mr Bernard Stasiowski, the head of a local road safety group, said: "Speed kills and the fact that one is trying to thwart radar controls puts the lives of motorists and others in danger."

"Such social networks must be stopped and everyone must respect speed limits," he said.

Source: AFP