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Nightmare Italy traffic infractions with rental car

I was in Italy earlier this year from Jan 22 to Jan 31. First time there, beautiful gorgeous country, incredible architecture and monuments, friendly people, fantastic food, just a wonderful and memorable trip. Rented a car from Hertz, requested and paid extra for a car with GPS. It would have been impossible to drive and navigate to all the places I went to with a map. I stayed in Tuscany, and each day I drove to a different place.. Florence, Bologna, Modena, Siena, Pisa, Rome, San Gimignano, Cinque Terre (parked at La Spezia, then took train), Venice (took train there, parked in Florence).

However, at the end of March, nearly 2 months after I got back from the trip, I received an email from Hertz that I have committed a road offence. The attached poorly scanned pdfs are all in Italian, I cannot understand it but I manage to make out a few words here and there and believe the offence is speeding. And I noticed Hertz charged my credit card 40 EU. At first I thought fine, no big deal, paid, done. Then I noticed this charge is not paying for the actual speeding fine, it's for paying the charge levied by Hertz to give the police my information only!

A couple days later, another 2 e-mails from Hertz. I notice 2 new 40 EU charges on my credit card!

Fast forward to now, just yesterday another 2 Hertz e-mails trickle in. So far, 9 charges from Hertz on my credit card totalling 400 EU.... all for Hertz giving my name to the authorities. This is ridiculous and a cash grab plain and simple by Hertz. Is there any recourse for me in terms of fighting this ridiculous 40 EU "administration" charge that is pure bull***t?

My cost to rent the car during my trip was about 550 EU. Now the cost of that looks to be doubling with these fees. And I don't know if it's going to stop. And these are NOT even the actual traffic offence fines.

If I have 9 Hertz charges, that implies 9 separate speeding fines? Let's say each speeding fine is 150 EU ? (I have no idea) I'm looking at potentially 1350 EU (or more) still to pay?

Tell me there isn't something wrong with this fkg system.

You go to vacation. You come back. 2 months later, you get charged 400 EU on alleged speeding that happened 9 times. I have yet to see a single shred of proof that I committed any of the alleged traffic violations.

So I am here because I googled this and it seems Italy has traffic cameras everywhere that I apparently did not notice at all. My question is, will I be able to see proof of each infraction? That is, each photo that substantiates their claim?

I'm not saying I'm unwilling to pay. If I'm guilty then I will pay. I'm not willing to pay blindly without first seeing incontrovertible proof of the offence. And, secondly, the Hertz charges are unacceptable. I'm sure the information exchange is all computerized and automated without anyone lifting a finger, and even if it wasn't, 40 EU charge to have someone find my information and send it, really?? This is beyond ridiculous. 10 EU for this would be a lot, but much more reasonable than 40 EU. I refuse to pay this. What can I do about this?

Also, I find this traffic fines system ludicrous and unfair. Here in the western world, if we speed we get pulled over, so afterwards we do not continue to speed. But in Italy, I was not stopped at all or even given any sign that I had done anything wrong. So I continued without knowing and therefore was not given the chance to take corrective action and abide by the traffic laws after the first infraction. Most of the time I was just following the rest of the traffic flow.

It's unfortunate that my memorable trip is now tainted by such a blatantly abusive traffic fines system. Not saying I am not guilty. I'm saying it's seriously unreasonable, and there has got to be a line drawn somewhere about this abuse.

Posted by
3 posts

Any thoughts, comments, recommendations are welcome and appreciated.

Thanks,
victor

Posted by
1352 posts

Sad to say, if you type in "Italy traffic fines" in the search box at the top of this forum, you are going to find there are lots of similar stories. Not all fines are for speeding, most are for ZTLs which are basically restricted access areas. From the number of stories that we see on this forum, I wish there was a better way to get the information out before people started driving in Italy. You covered a lot of territory, so Hertz probably received requests from multiple municipalities, which is why there are so many charges. I may be wrong, but I think every time you generated a traffic infraction (parking or driving in a restricted area), you generated a request to Hertz. The actual fines will be along, but maybe not for another month or so.

The same thing happens in the US when a rental car causes an infraction, but the cost is not quite so high. Most posters that know these things (like the ones that live in Italy or travel there frequently ) will tell you that there are signs, but I'm guessing that most tourists are so busy enjoying the location that they miss the significance of the signs. The best thing you can do now is share your new knowledge with those you hear might be planning to drive in Italy.

The best part of traveling is to visit places that are not like home. Their country, their rules.

Posted by
576 posts

I doubt you have any recourse. Have you called Hertz for more information? I think I would start there. If you followed the pack, I bet they all got caught too. I can see how this would be upsetting. I have read about this same issue on this forum and many people get caught unknowingly. Even if you did research on driving in Italy, you still could fall into the no drive zones without permits. It is frustrating to say the least!

Posted by
11768 posts

When you say Western world I hope you don't refer to California, because around here red light violations are enforced by photo camera and you receive the fine in the mail. Many other places around the Western world enforce traffic laws by camera.

I bet you thought that since you didn't see Italian cops around you could get away with violating speed limits or maybe drive on bus only lanes. It doesn't work that way. The American Government reads our emails, and the Italian Government films us driving.

Regarding Hertz practice of charging an outrageous amount for communicating your name I'm not going to opine. I don't like many of their practices. However I can assure you that clause is in the rental agreement we all sign without reading the small print.

Posted by
1083 posts

Here in Italy, which is part of the western world as well, each speeding radar is preceded by a warning sign that your speed is going to be checked shortly. Of course the sign is in Italian as it is the locally spoken language. There is a 5% or 5 km/h leeway, whichever is the highest, on speed measurement. Fines are proportional to infringement speed; for a very large violation, Italians would get their driving licenses suspended as an additional penalty.
If you have been found overspeeding nine times in a week you should seriously review your driving style.

Posted by
14894 posts

Although you could have run up a bunch of speeding fines, my bet is that some of the infractions will turn out to be ZTL violations. I think you'll be able to figure it out when the actual fines arrive, though you may have to use something like Google Translate to do so.

The ZTL zones in the historic areas of many cities are one of the reasons why many people urge travelers to use trains rather than rental cars except when they are needed to visit the countryside. That suggestion, and information on traffic laws, appears in guidebooks to Italy. It's very risky to head off on a driving vacation in a different country without researching its traffic laws in advance. It can turn into a very costly experience. Every time someone comments here that car-rental costs look less expensive than train fares, I cringe a little.

Posted by
2759 posts

You apparently do not realize it, but you consented to the administrative fee charged by Hertz when you signed the rental contract. You may feel the charge is excessive, but you have no recourse. When the traffic camera captures a violation, it is identified as a car belonging to Hertz. They are then asked to provide the name and address of whomever rented the car on that date to the police. You will get the tickets later, often much later. Is it all computerized? I doubt it. Someone somewhere has to key in the information to find the matching rental, and then forward the name to the police.

If these are all speeding tickets, shame on you for violating the posted limits. You cannot assume in Italy that 10 mph over the posted limit is acceptable like itis in some US states. Nor can you challenge a traffic camera violation as lacking in proof. When you are in a foreign country you must play by their rules. It is not an abusive system, as you claim, simply because it is different from ours. Next time take care to read up on the local laws, learn to read nd understand the traffic signs, and things should go better.

Posted by
15146 posts

Another unhappy customer. First time poster who obviously has not been lurking on the forum, since these rants show up so frequently, like clockwork. A little research before the trip would have paid big dividends, like noting the the last paragraph in Rick's Driving Tips and Rules of the Road, which I admit, he could make in super-bold print regarding Italy:

Assume that Big Brother is watching. In many countries, traffic is monitored by automatic cameras that check car speed, click photos, and send speeders tickets by mail. It’s smart to know — and follow — the area speed limit.
Once you’re behind the wheel, you may curse the traffic jams, narrow roads, and macho habits, but driving in Europe carbonates your experience. Driving at home is mundane; driving in Europe is memorable.

I think the OP's experience was indeed memorable.

Posted by
2124 posts

"Here in the western world, if we speed we get pulled over, so afterwards we do not continue to speed."

So when we get pulled over, that's by a police officer who is earning $60-80k per year (for example), driving a cruiser that cost some county $50k or more, who takes vacations and gets sick pay and insurance, and in lots of cases a decent retirement package. It also puts that officer in danger-from traffic speeding by, or the nutjob who doesn't think they should get a ticket on that particular day, or many other factors. Do you see why cameras are used so much in Europe, and a fair amount in the U.S.? Cameras don't call in sick and they don't take vacations (like we do!), and if they get run down by a motorist they can just install a new camera. The flow of traffic, i.e. locals, know where the cameras are.

As for the we do not continue to speed part? Well....I beg to differ.

Posted by
5088 posts

The original post is a useful reminder about the benefits of transit options other than rental cars. Even disregarding French transit rules by throwing away your validated ticket is cheaper than a Hertz administrative fee plus the traffic violation fine. Great reminder to use trains and buses in Europe.

Posted by
30509 posts

vdcheung,

The topic of the "potentially expensive caveats" with car rentals is frequently covered here on the forum, in Rick's guidebooks and in other numerous locations on the internet. This is not a scam, as Italians and tourists from other EU countries also have to deal with these fines if they violate the rules.

Based on your narrative, it appears that you didn't do your homework prior to driving in Italy, and assumed that traffic enforcement practices in Italy would be the same as at home. As you've learned, it would have been prudent to have done some research on the subject.

You could have also been fined for driving without the compulsory International Driver's Permit. Did you have one of those?

If you've only received the administrative charges from Hertz so far, hang onto your hat as the actual traffic fines are coming, and they will be considerably more than $40 each. Based on what you've said, your fines are not necessarily just for speeding. They could be....

  • driving through a ZTL (limited traffic) zone in the historic old centres of cities. Florence is just about saturated with automated ZTL cameras, and each pass through one of these will generate a ticket. Most towns in Italy have ZTL areas, as I've seen them in both large and small towns, and in the north, south and as I recall also Sicily.
  • driving in Bus lanes.
  • Speeding. You may have also been "nicked" by the devious Traffic Tutor system which measures not only instantaneous speed past the camera, but also average speed between two points. Violate both and AFAIK that's TWO tickets.

Traffic fines can be more severe in other countries. For example, if caught without a highway tax vignette in Austria, these are the fines.....

" A €240 fine with an additional obligatory payment of a substitute toll are charged to travelers without a valid vignette, and unpaid fines lead to penalties between €300 and €3,000. Furthermore, the vehicle may be confiscated from foreigners to guarantee payment of the penalty."

The next stage of this saga will probably be a notice in the mail from European Municipality Outsourcing with the actual tickets (which will also be in Italian). Based on information I've heard from others, they're now getting more aggressive in collecting, and are engaging North American collection agencies who badger people incessantly until they pay up. Of course once the collection agency gets involved, the grand total is usually considerably higher than the amount of the tickets.

If you plan on making another visit to Bella Italia, I'd recommend using the excellent transit system if possible. However, there are some "potentially expensive caveats" to be aware of with public transit as well. Anyone here on the forum will be able to provide information on that.

Good luck!

Posted by
11613 posts

The OP is probably not coming back to check this thread, but I'll address one other point:

If you refuse to pay your credit card company, it will affect your credit score. "Losing" your credit card will not change this, and is bad advice which also violates Forum guidelines.

Refusing to pay the actual tickets may yield the same result.

Posted by
1519 posts

Imagine the faces of the french, the germans, the spaniards and the swiss when they'll discover that they are not part of the western world anymore because they dare to use speed traps.

The greeks, who basically invented the western world, will be delighted to hear the news.

Speeding inside those cities isn't easy during the day, I think most are ZTL fines.

Vdcheung, the agreement you signed doesn't say that you must have committed a violation to have to pay Hertz that fee. You have to pay when the cops ask for you data, for whatever reason they ask for your data.

I'm quite sure that the 40 € clause would be overturned in an italian court as "unfair" and "one-sided", the problem is that it hits only foreign drivers who prefer to appeal the fine via mail instead of hiring a lawyer to contest an agreement they signed.

Posted by
1513 posts

Yet another horror story from someone who evidently didn't their homework. I'm not concerned about his predicament, but I am concerned that there will be those who might come across this post in their research regarding driving in Italy.

We spent a wonderful 10 days in Tuscany. We rented a car from Hertz at Rome FCO and drove the car every day. We had absolutely no problems and didn't receive the first administrative fee or fine. Why was my experience so different from the OP? I don't know for sure, but I can tell you how I prepared before we left. It seems to have paid off.

  • Do your homework. In this day of Google and other methods of searching the internet, there's no excuse for not being informed. I just entered "driving in Italy" and Google returned 75 million responses! I learned about signage, rules of the road, International drivers permits, traffic cameras, ZTL's and even Autogrills, which we loved!
  • Get a Garmin and an Italy and Greece maps SD card. Also, get a good Michelin map of Italy. With the combination of these two, we were able to not only easily navigate the main roads including the Autostrada, but also confidently explore the most remote pig trails we could find.
  • Get your head straight. You are going to be a guest in a foreign country. There will be differences (vive la difference!). It is my responsibility to not only understand those differences but also to accept those differences, be it the way they enjoy their coffee or their traffic regulations.

Finally, when you get there, be adaptable, flexible and open to advice from those who live in your host country. We knew we wanted to visit Florence. We had planned to drive from our Agriturismo into town. Gino, who lives in Florence and works at our agriturismo, advised against it. He helped us with bus schedules and stops once we got into the city. When we reached the outskirts of Florence, we immediately realized that Gino had given us great advice. We also picked up a new skill (using bus transportation in Italy) and had a wonderful experience making new friends on the 45 minute ride into town.

As far as the OP goes, the remark "Here in the western world" and his general attitude tells me all I need to know. Those of us who embrace the RS philosophy of foreign travel have all run into this guy when abroad. Mark Twain even wrote about him.

Posted by
213 posts

I'm thankful I was able to read horror stories like this, and do my research prior to driving in Italy last year. I drove nearly 1500 total miles including a memorable drive into Florence (parked near the train station, avoided ZTL thanks to planning!)

Glad to say not one infraction, and I had my IDL.

Learning the road signs in advance was a great help, as was this forum.

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks for all the responses and feedback, all!

Lessons definitey learned.

There is another twist to my circumstance though, it was my friend who did most of the driving. I signed the rental car contract and used my credit card to pay for it. My friend was registered as an additional driver of the rental vehicle. But because I was the one driving "too slow" for his patience, most of the time, especially on highways, he was the driver.

My question is, when there are multiple drivers registered for a rental car, and when the authorities ask Hertz for the driver information, how does Hertz know who was actually the one driving when the infraction took place?

In other words, I'm expecting that I will eventually receive all the fines for the tickets from the Italian authorities. But what if the photo evidence they have is not actually of me driving?

Would I have recourse in this situation to appeal any tickets backed by photos of another person driving?

If there is recourse and I can appeal these tickets, what are the implications? Would the Italian authorities then contact Hertz to get the information of the other drivers? (there were a total of 3 registered drivers ... how would they know who was the offending driver?) Potentially there could be many information requests before they finally get it right. Would these additional information requests be subject to an additional 40 EU each time? Surely, now anyone can see the absurdity of this system. And what about the 1 year statute of limitations? What if it's well past 1 year by the time I have the tickets appealed.. ?

I apologize to all if i painted an unfair, biased, and/or inaccurate depiction of driving in Italy. I am not well traveled at all, it was my first time to Europe. None of us did any homework. I have very fond memories of Italy - nothing will change that.

Again, all comments, suggestions, advice are welcome and appreciated!

victor

Posted by
8273 posts

Thank you, Victor, for your civil response and for fleshing out the details of your driving experience. Surely your driving companion should pay half of your fines, if he is at all fair minded. Has he already offered to do this?

Posted by
245 posts

There will be no photo of the driver, just the license plate.

I'm sure if you are close enough to someone that you travel together to Italy and rent a car together, you are close enough to arrange the payment of the fines between you without involving authorities or Hertz....

Posted by
1519 posts

how would they know who was the offending driver?

They don't need to, it's a fine not a criminal offense.

Read the contract you signed: as the first signatory you agreed to pay the bill and you are responsible for other drivers. Like the owner of a car is responsible for non criminal offenses by those who drove his car with his consent. An appeal based on the fact that you were not driving a car that you accepted to be held responsible for would be rejected.

The 1 year statue of limitations is calculated from the moment cops receive the offenders' name and address by the rental agency. The "countdown" stops when you receive the registered letter with the actual fine, if you appeal you have obviously already received it.

The speed limit is 130 kms per hour on most tolled highways, when it's lower it's always posted. I'm pretty sure those are ZTL fines, I can't believe your friend drove at 136.5 kmh in a foreign country with a rental car.

Posted by
5637 posts

Victor,
Here is your answer.

I signed the rental car contract and used my credit card to pay for it.

You'll be the one getting all the bills because you're the primary contract holder and it's your credit card they have on file. I think you're making many distinctions without a difference. The rental car company doesn't care who the driver is when multiple people are on the contract as additional drivers. They don't need to prove who the driver was for each infraction to assess the penalty, it's all the same to them (the penalty is assessed against the car - not individual driver - and the car rental is traced to you)...you guys have to work out how to split the fine amongst yourselves.

In any case, you're definitely not "singled out" or the first one this has happened to...there are many, many, many rookie mistakes like this reported on this Forum. It only happened because, as you admit, you didn't do your homework beforehand (or read the rental car contract fully and assumed things operate as they do in the States). Good luck sorting this out with your buddies.

Posted by
6881 posts

Wonder if the OP is still happy with all the "Freedom" a rental vehicle affords??

Posted by
11768 posts

The fine amount varies depending of how much you exceeded the speed.
For speeds 10 to 40km/h above the limit (the most common infraction on highways) the minimum is 159€ the max is 639€. If the limit was passed by less than 10km/h the fine ranges from 39 to 159€. The latter is more common if you exceeded inside a city. The general speed limit in built up areas is 50 km/h but the autovelox machines start taking photos if you go above 55km/h.

I know in the old days Italy was very lenient on traffic rules enforcement, hence the reputation of Italian being fast crazy drivers. The camera technology and the 2003 vehicle code, which introduced the point system for Italian licenses (lose 20 points and the license is suspended, and some manage to do that in a day), put an end to the anarchy.

Every country, Western or eastern, enforces the laws they see fit. In a italy they give you little leeway for speeding. In America you get arrested for drinking wine while walking in the street, or for paying for sex with a prostitute. In Italy that is all legal.

So you got speeding tickets while driving in Italy. You should have stuck to drinking with your buddies and hiring hookers. No Hertz charges for that.

Posted by
792 posts

This is why I recommend that anyone who is going to be in Italy for 2-3 weeks or more LEASE a car instead of renting. Autoeurope will lease you a brand new car (Peugeot -registered in France) and deliver it to Milan or Rome. You won't receive any automated fines in the mail.

Posted by
10704 posts

Victor, very sorry that you're learning a very expensive lesson. Some of the replies may seem harsh but as you said, you didn't do any homework and just assumed things abroad work like they do at home.

This appears to be your first visit to the RS forums? Those of us who've spent a lot of time here have seen the same complaint many times, very often from first-time posters, and almost all of those posts call these fines scams, rip-offs, "cash grabs" (your words) or similar. We see the same from tourists who were fined for not validating public transit tickets. It's frustrating as the pitfalls to be aware of and how to avoid them are discussed in these forums almost daily. A little time poking around in here and with a good guidebook before you ran into difficulties could have saved you a lot of trouble.

As unfair as it all seems, it's the way things work. Whether you're American, Canadian, German, Japanese, Italian or from Mars, it's the cost of breaking Italian law: no scam or absurdity about it. Your task now is to figure this all out with your buddies, divvy up the charges and pay them.

And do come see us BEFORE your next trip across the pond? :O)

Posted by
5637 posts

Jim,
How would getting a leased car exempt someone from traffic violations? You're still signing a contract with the car leasing agency. The cameras don't know the difference between a traditional vs leased rental - they just get the license plate.

By the way, Victor, some years ago Washington DC installed a bunch of speed cameras throughout various neighborhoods. By the time I "learned" that I was repeatedly going too fast in one particular stretch, I received no less than 3-4 tickets in the mail - one after another. Since this was my regular route to work, the only feedback was to get all those tickets - unfortunately they came crashing down at once. So these types of systems do exist in the States and you have to really watch out for them.

Posted by
1695 posts

If it is any consolation you are not alone.

The general lesson for others to learn from your bad experience is don't go to another country and rent a car without reading up on the local traffic laws, pitfalls, etc....
Italy is not alone on this, I am sure there are many US violations and signs that would confuse foreigners traveling to our home country as well.
I think the big difference is we Americans are more likely to go somewhere and rent a car without research or care for things that are different, where other foreigners are so used to having different rules outside of their smaller country that not researching would never be considered.

You learned the lesson the hard way and I have no doubt will research pre-trip rather than post-trip before your next adventure.

Only benefit I imagine to what Jim is suggesting is your would not have the additional tack on fees from the rental agency for providing the authorities your information. Those seem like salt in the wound.

Posted by
792 posts

Agnes, with the Autoeurope lease you are actually buying the car and it is registered in your name. They then buy it back from you. The license plates are red. Italy just doesn't follow up with minor traffic offenses on leased cars taken by cameras.

Posted by
5637 posts

Italy just doesn't follow up with minor traffic offenses on leased cars taken by cameras.

Any idea why they would treat leased cars differently than, say, personal vehicles that commit infractions? I can see why you wouldn't get admin fees if the leasing company turns over the title to you, but does that imply that any foreign driver of a leased car can commit infractions with impunity because they won't bother collecting? That's an interesting loophole. Rental car companies are empowered to report and likely get some kick-backs but seems like leasing companies are not in the same position. It's odd that this type of "context" makes a difference for someone breaking the rules...in one case, there's no follow-up and, in the other, the rental company will harass you to no end and keep racking up one fee after another.

Posted by
2759 posts

They do ot have to prove who was driving at the time of the violation. You signed the rental contract and you are responsible for paying for the violations. You only recourse is to seek contribution from your friends. Surely they will be willing to do that.

I don't kow if they send you a copy of the photo with the ticket, but if you do, maybe you guys can identify the actual driver and sort it out.

Posted by
20091 posts

In Italy the car is responsible and, therefore, who owns the car is responsible. You owned it during the time your rented it. In some states, Colorado for example, the car cannot be responsible so the driver has to be Id. But that was mostly a result of the state legislature wanting to make it more difficult for the camera ticket to be collected. Also why you see people drive cars with sunglasses over their license plate.

To vdcheung, if you were constantly speeding that you admitted to why is it abuse if you get the tickets. One thing you have in Italy is constant speed monitoring. They take a chunk of the road - maybe ten miles - take a picture at the beginning and another at the end and average your speed. If you are above, you get the ticket. Looks like you have wantonly violated a lot of traffic regulations so now you pay the price.

...chance to take corrective action and abide by the traffic laws after the first infraction.... Just how condescending and arrogant is that ? You have an obligation to know and follow the local traffic rules. Good luck - this is going to be expensive if Hertz had turned your name over 9 or 10 times.

PS You don't get pulled over for speed in Denver the majority of time. Just mail the ticket.

Posted by
792 posts

OP screwed up on his driving and got multiple tickets. I do agree they should only charge him one admin fee for providing info to the police, not every time a ticket shows up. They, the police, have the info from the first ticket. Why keep asking for it? A shady practice in my opinion.

Posted by
500 posts

They, the police, have the info from the first ticket. Why keep asking for it?

Because, as somebody mentioned above, it was probably multiple different sets of police. The OP said they drove to many different cities.

Posted by
30509 posts

"They, the police, have the info from the first ticket. Why keep asking for it? A shady practice in my opinion."

No, not a shady practice at all. If the tickets are from different policing jurisdictions, they only have the license number and vehicle description from the photo system. They don't know who was driving the car until after they get that information from the rental company, so they likely have to ask for this information for every violation. I doubt that police forces from different jurisdictions are going to share information with neighboring jurisdictions on tickets they issue to rental car customers. If the rental car firm has a policy of charging each time they have to look up this information (which will likely be on the contract that the renter signed), then a charge will be applied to the credit card each time they have to do this.

Posted by
2522 posts

I will probably never drive in Italy, but if I ever do, and after driving as carefully as possible, I will cancel the credit card used to rent the car immediately upon return. I think that solves the problem.

Really, the big difference is that an American in their whole life gets 0-2 tickets. In Europe with all the cameras, 1 or 2 is the typical rate per year. So with a fine rate at 30-50 times what you experience in the US, you are going to see a lot of Americans return from Europe with unmet expectations, that they drove and got no fines.

Posted by
1695 posts

To the OP:
Not to keep piling on, but you mention you rented a car with GPS.
Most GPS systems will beep at you when you are approaching the automatic speed cameras located as you say throughout the country.
This gives you a little warning one is approaching and many GPS units and apps will tell you the speed limit at the time before the camera is on you so you have a chance to slow down.

I think this is why the Tudor system as mentioned above was implemented which tracks average speed in certain places, since it is overall far too easy to speed and then just brake hard before each camera location, especially if you live there and no exactly where the cameras are.

You clearly ignored all semblance of laws while driving.
I fear in addition to speeding violations you may have some ZTL fines and Bus lane violations as well incoming to you as you mention driving to different cities.

if you want to feel better read this article and consider yourself lucky you did not vacation in a Nordic country:
http://www.autoblog.com/2011/01/07/highest-speeding-fines/

Posted by
1 posts

I just want to say that we are on vacation right now in Italy, and I came to this forum trying to decide whether we should drive tomorrow morning from Florence -Bologna - Parma- Milan or Florence -Pisa -Cinque Terre -Parma -Milan. I've been to 39 countries and drove in France last year but now we're wondering if we should cancel the car rental and see where we can get by train.

Posted by
11613 posts

Once again, how is cancelling a credit card a remedy?

Posted by
1830 posts

With nine citations this could easily run into the thousands of dollars. You have my sympathy. Italy is free to set and enforce their laws as they see fit, and we as travelers are subject to those laws. BUT clearly the way the laws are defined and enforced in Italy stacks the deck against travelers who are average or above average in their level of driving skill, observational powers, and preparation. You see new messages on this board similar to this every other week, few almost none about any other country. I am sure it's possible to be wary and well prepared enough to avoid this situation, but it does not sound like a recipe for a relaxing vacation. I have driven in countries with speed cameras (England, Ireland, France twice each) without incident, maybe the tolerances are wider in those countries. Italy seems to be a special case, based upon the high number of people who seem to have problems like this.

Posted by
97 posts

"Once again, how is cancelling a credit card a remedy?"

It's a remedy the same way as making sure you don't shoplift in the same store twice. I mean aside from being illegal and wrong and all that.

Posted by
8273 posts

Cancelling the credit card is being really sleezy. Why give such an option? I find that reprehensible.

Posted by
2784 posts

Cancelling a credit card does not relieve you of paying legitimate charges that post after the card is cancelled. And the fees from your car rental company, no matter how ridiculous they might seem, are legitimate in the eyes of the credit card issuer.

Posted by
2522 posts

Canceling the card probably prevents the admin fees, which are exorbitant anyway. And no, the fees are not spelled out in the contract or on the website, just generic language about reserving the right to add unspecified admin fees, is that even legal? Of course they already know what they are going to charge you at the time of rental for this service.

The actual fines themselves still remain.

Posted by
11768 posts

The info needs to be requested for each ticket because tickets may have been incurred with different city jurisdictions.

Also, even assuming they were in the same city, they could have occurred in different days. Just because Joe Doe has the car rented from Hertz on July 3rd, doesn't mean that the next day the same car is still rented by Joe Doe. There might be a different person renting the same car the next day.

I agree that charging 40 euro for providing a name is a bit much, but that's the rental companies for you. I was charged $350 for extra cleaning fees in California. Also was charged $15 for each bridge toll crossing using their Fastrak transponder provided with the car (the bridge tolls are $5 each, so they made $10 each time I crossed a Bay bridge).

But don't feel too bad. Most of my Italian friends in Florence have had their licenses suspended at least once since 2003 (every year I see one that is stuck for 3 or 6 months having to commute with their moped). Some of them beg their elderly parents to sacrifice for them and tell the police they were the actual people driving (they deduct points to the driver, not the owner, but the driver must agree to sign off they were the person driving). A recent article in Italian newspapers said that elderly Italians, according to authorities, commit an incredible number of camera enforced speed limit violations (some of them are probably residents of assisted living facilities). You can always count on Italian parents to come to the rescue of their kids.

Posted by
792 posts

Well, pushing a button on a computer terminal to forward the SAME info should not cost $40 a pop. That is just greed

Posted by
20091 posts

These discussion always wind up in the same hole. Do the crime, pay the fine. If you don't, wait to see if a bill collector in the US can be successful. There has been limited reports here and elsewhere of collection agencies being used to collect Italian traffic fines. If you think the Italian fines are bad, wait till you see what the collection agency adds and it hits your credit report.

We spent a couple weeks last May with a car in and around Rome and Florence. We noticed that every town in Tuscany had a speed camera, will marked, at the entrance to the town where the speed limit changed, also remember the signs about the rolling average on the multi-lane roads, parked at a remote lot in Florence one day to avoid TLZs, hit most of the hill town using parking lots outside the town gate, and did not get a single ticket. From some of the discussion you would think that the Italian have constructed a big traffic maze just to entrap American tourists. It is easy to drive in Italy and avoid problems. Unfortunately for some part of the American culture is that if I do not get caught do it, then it is OK to do it. Man up, you got caught.

Posted by
30509 posts

sue,juliano,

"we're wondering if we should cancel the car rental and see where we can get by train."

You can easily get to all the places you mentioned by train. In some cases you'll be using fast trains that travel at up to 300 km/h which is a much more efficient way to travel compared to cars.

The other question to ask - do you or others that will be driving the car have the compulsory International Driver's Permit, which is used in conjunction with your home D.L. If not, it's probably not a good idea to drive in Italy.

If you haven't used trains in Italy before, there are some "caveats" to be aware of with those also.

Posted by
1695 posts

to: Sue
In most cases the train is a better mode of transport than a car in Italy ; having nothing to do with TICKETS
If you are traveling to the countryside outside of cities than a car can be highly desirable but otherwise they are usually more trouble than benefit in the cities for a variety of reasons.

There is no reason someone like yourself cannot follow the rules and rent a car and have a wonderful experience.
The rules are not more harsh than in the US, just more cameras if you are one to bend the rules over here you have to adapt quickly as you will get caught.

yes there are cases of new members/posts on this forum all of the time of hard luck type cases like this of first time travelers to Italy ; but everyone of them showed up in Italy without any beforehand research of the driving rules/laws ; rented a car and drove off thinking they were good to go about their normal way of driving in the US or other home country.

That is just a really bad thing to do for Italy or any country. Before the Internet I totally would have done that myself but now to not ask google in advance about where I am going and renting a car is just foolish.

I imagine none of them got an International Driver's Permit beforehand either so were driving illegally the whole time as well.

Posted by
792 posts

Hey Ken ...have you been to the Chianti region of Tuscano by train?

Posted by
10704 posts

I love Italian trains. Go somewhere; sightsee; have some wine/beer; get on the train; go home....
Priceless. 🍷🍺❤️

But no, we haven't done the Chianti region.