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'Risky drivers' prompt historic hike in French road deaths

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Photo: AFP
11:31 CET+01:00
France's mortality rate on the roads has increased for the second year in a row, something that hasn't happened for 35 years.
A total of 3,464 people died on French roads last year, a 2.4 percent increase compared to 2014. 
 
This comes after a 3.5 percent increase on the year 2013, reported Le Parisien on Wednesday. 
 
The worrying statistics come despite the launch of several government measures to curb traffic accidents, including a ban on headsets while driving and stricter alcohol limits on new drivers. 
 
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said that one of the primary reasons for the higher toll was a 2.5 percent increase in road traffic. 
 
"It also reflects an increase in risky behaviour that can lead to serious accident fatalities," he told the paper. 
 
He also said French drivers were "too relaxed" when it came to following the road rules, and that many motorists continued to drive "at excessive speed".
 
A study in April from BVA found that 75 percent of French people acknowledged that they don't always stick to the speed limit. 
 
"This is not acceptable! This behavior is irresponsible and may be criminal!" the minister said.
 
He added that in the first ten months of the year a full 25 percent of accidents involved a speeding driver. 
 
There had also been an increase in intoxicated drivers, who were involved in one in four accidents last year, Cazeneuve noted. 
 

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Despite the increasing death tolls, France has seen a drastic reduction in road fatalities over the decades. After a peak of over 18,000 deaths in 1972, the figures have steadily dropped in the vast majority of years, until 2013.
 
The government aims to have fewer than 2,000 deaths before 2020. France announced in October that it would install 10,000 dummy speed cameras - and 500 real ones - to keep drivers to the limit, among other measures.
 
The measures were denounced by motorists groups like 40 Millions d'Automobilistes which says France has become the global leader in introducing repressive measures on drivers.
 
France rolls out more laws to fight road deaths

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