Tiny Italian town issues 58,000 speeding fines in ten days

Mayor says high number of people driving through Acquetico at 'crazy' speeds have left residents too scared to cross the roads.

Tiny Italian town issues 58,000 speeding fines in ten days
File photo of a speeding car: jonson/Depositphoto

Acquetico, a village with just 120 residents near the French border, has long been plagued by speeding motorists. But when the town’s mayor installed temporary traffic cameras, he found the scale of the problem was worse than anyone thought.

Mayor Alessandro Alessandri installed the cameras after a deluge of complaints about speeding that had left the town's elderly residents afraid to walk around the village. 

The speed trap caught over 58,000 cars driving through the village at up to 135 kilometres per hour (84 miles per hour) in under two weeks, despite it being a 50km/h (31mph) zone.

No one knows if it’s a record, but Alessandri said he couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw the data, which showed one in three drivers breaking the speed limit.

“It's really madness, considering that we have inhabitants who regularly move within the village and cross the road,” Mayor Alessandri told Corriere Della Sera.

Set up near the village's main pedestrian crossing, cameras recorded cars speeding through at well over 100km/h – double the limit in a town mainly populated by older residents.

'A pedestrian risks being hit by a speeding car at 135km/h, maybe at 4pm on an ordinary afternoon,” the Mayor's office stated.

Figures showed that the 20 worst offenders sped through the village in the middle of the day, along the state highway which passes through Acquetico.

Alessandri said the problem was that, with three main routes connecting the neighbouring Piedmont region to Italy's northern coast, the route through Acquetico was the best for those looking to avoid speed bumps, cameras, or tolls.

And he said motorcyclists use the “ideal asphalt, good width, [and] continuous bends” to stage races between larger towns on the road.

The mayor now says he has little option but to turn the trial run of speed cameras into a permanent fixture.

“We hope these speed gauges can be an effective deterrent to motorists and that they can benefit the citizens of Acquetico, because we don’t want to make money with the fines, but they’re necessary to protect people's safety,” he said.

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TRAFFIC: The worst dates to travel on Italy’s roads this July

Heatwaves and traffic jams are not a good mix - but both are inevitable during an Italian summer. Here are the busiest dates to avoid when travelling on Italy's motorways this month.

TRAFFIC: The worst dates to travel on Italy's roads this July

Italy’s autostrade (motorways) usually see little in the way of heavy traffic, at least outside of the major cities.

But in summer that all changes, as everyone escapes the baking hot cities for the cooler air of the mountains or the coast.

Not only do motorways become much busier, but many smaller roads, particularly in coastal areas and around holiday hotspots, become completely clogged with traffic.

The increased number of vehicles on the road isn’t just inconvenient: it can also be dangerous, with traffic deaths rising by an estimated seven percent in August.

READ ALSO: ‘Expect the unexpected’: What you need to know about driving in Italy

That’s why the Italian government issues warnings each year advising motorists to avoid peak travel times, and even publishes its own calendar showing when traffic is predicted to be at its worst.

The official forecast, produced as part of the ‘Viabilità Italia’ summer travel plan drawn up by the government, emergency services, and and state road agency ANAS, notes particularly busy dates to avoid.

The calendar is colour coded, with a ‘yellow’ spot indicating heavy traffic, ‘red’ indicating heavy traffic with ‘possible critical conditions’, and ‘black’ indicating ‘critical’ (i.e., dire) traffic. 

No ‘black’ days have been predicted for July, but there are plenty of ‘red’ spots: the forecast says drivers can expect to experience heavy traffic on weekends throughout July with conditions worsening towards the end of the month.

Italy July traffic calendar warning
Italy’s July traffic calendar warning. Source: Polizia di Stato.

The roads are predicted to be particularly crowded (a ‘red’ level warning) on Saturday and Sunday mornings, the government’s forecast shows.

Traffic is expected to get heavier on the weekend between Friday 22nd and Sunday 24th July, with highways especially clogged throughout the whole of Sunday 24th.

READ ALSO: How will Italy’s Amalfi Coast traffic limit for tourists work this summer?

The situation is then due to worsen further the following weekend, with the roads starting to fill up from the morning of Friday 29th and a ‘red’ warning appearing from Friday afternoon until the end of Sunday, July 31st.

The last weekend of July is traditionally the date of the first ‘mass exodus’ away from cities as many Italians start their summer holidays.

Traffic is expected to remain at normal levels during the working week (bar Friday afternoons) throughout the month of July.

READ ALSO: Q&A: Your questions answered about driving in Italy on a British licence

While the highways are likely to be jammed at various points over the next few weekends, July is still a better time to travel than in August, when Italians begin their holidays and travel en masse to the beach. 

ANAS has yet to issue its forecast for August, but in previous years there have been multiple ‘black’ weekends warning of hours-long stationary traffic jams, particularly around the main Ferragosto summer holiday on August 15th.