Every car in France will have to be equipped with a breathalyzer from the spring of 2012. The announcement was made by President Nicolas Sarkozy in a speech on Wednesday.

"/> Every car in France will have to be equipped with a breathalyzer from the spring of 2012. The announcement was made by President Nicolas Sarkozy in a speech on Wednesday.

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Breathalyzers to be compulsory in all cars

Every car in France will have to be equipped with a breathalyzer from the spring of 2012. The announcement was made by President Nicolas Sarkozy in a speech on Wednesday.

Breathalyzers to be compulsory in all cars
Geraint Rowland

The new plan will force every driver to have a breathalyzer kit in their cars so they can check their alcohol level before driving.

The president’s office said in a statement on Thursday that a kit costs just €1.50 to €2 ($2 to $2.70).

Anyone caught without a kit will face a €17 ($23) fine.

The president has made it a personal crusade to cut the number of road deaths in France. In 2007 he pledged to get the annual number of deaths below 3,000 in 2012, which now seems unlikely. 

The total fell just below 4,000 for the first time ever in 2010, with a total number of 3,994 deaths. The figure for 2011 is likely to be similar.

The president also announced an additional 400 speed cameras between now and the end of 2012 and the creation of a national day to remember road accident victims.

France has made huge gains in road safety over the last ten years, with the number of deaths being cut by half.

France’s road safety association has reported that alcohol is the biggest factor in deaths on the road with 28.5 percent involving a car driven by someone with an excessive blood alcohol level.

Update: The Local has been told by the transport ministry that the introduction date for the new rules has been pushed back to July. Visit thelocal.fr for the latest information.

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Drivers in France to be spied on by 400 ‘super speed cameras’

Hundreds of hi-tech “speed cameras of the future” are to be be installed this year on roads across France, which has had three quarters of its existing cameras vandalised since the start of the “yellow vest” protests several months ago.

Drivers in France to be spied on by 400 'super speed cameras'
A vandalised speed camera in Corsica in December. Photo: AFP

The cameras, perched on four-metre tall posts, have been tested in Marseille and Strasbourg and now 400 of them will be rolled out over the coming year, with three times that number to be set up next year, France Info reported.

The devices are capable of not only clocking your speed but also recording a variety of other misdemeanours, such as phoning while driving, sudden swerving, not wearing a seatbelt, or overtaking on the right, which is illegal in France.

But in the short term the cameras, whose brand name is the Mesta Fusion 2 and which can monitor eight lanes of traffic and several vehicles at once, will be used only to catch people speeding.

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There will be four decoy cameras for each operating one, and the decoys and the real ones will be switched regularly to prevent drivers figuring out which are the ones catching them breaking the law.

The new cameras are said to be far harder to vandalise than existing ones.

 

The French government last week blamed a steep rise in road deaths in February on the yellow vest movement, during which three quarters of speed cameras on the country’s roads have been vandalised or put out of action in recent months.

Official figures said that 253 people were killed on the roads in France in February, a 17.1 percent increase on the same time last year.

Previously road deaths had been going down. There were 3,259 deaths on the country's roads in 2018 – down from 3,448 deaths the previous year.

But they have started to rise again since the yellow vest movement began late last year.

Some protesters angry about planned rises in fuel tax and the rising costs of travel to work, and about a recent lowering of speed limits on some roads, turned their ire on speed cameras.

 
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