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Why don't you see any highway patrol cars in Europe?

Cruising along with the flow of traffic on any interstate in the US means you're probably going 10 to 15 mph over the posted speed limit. Like most drivers, I have learned over the years to keep a sharp eye out for the Highway Patrol, even if I'm not going visibly faster than the cars around me.

In Europe there is no such thing as a dedicated highway patrol, and you rarely see police cars of any type on the highways. Partly this may be because most of the highways in Europe have reasonable speed limits of 120 to 130 km/h (75 to 80 mph). Part of the reason, though, is that most countries have radar-triggered speed cameras scattered around the highways.

If you get caught speeding by one of these cameras, you may not even know it until a month or two later – when you get a fine in the mail, including a nice little picture of you at the wheel of the car. If you're driving a rental car, the rental car company will pay the fine using your credit card (you authorize this as part of the documentation that you sign when renting the car), and they'll add on a hefty service fee for taking care of this for you.

France recently announced that they are going to triple the number of speed cameras, using a new generation of cameras that not only checks your speed, but can also track other violations, such as not wearing a seatbelt, not having insurance, or passing on the right (a major No-No in Europe).

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