Fatigue causes hundreds of road deaths each year

Drowsy drivers are causing the deaths of 800 people each year on French raods, according to a report published on Monday. making it the second-leading cause of road deaths in the country, behind alcohol.

Fatigue causes hundreds of road deaths each year
File photo: Mark Winterbourne

The study, conducted by motorists’ group “40 millions d’automobilistes,” analysed accident data from 2012, and found that more than a quarter of all fatalities on the road were linked to drivers being sleepy at the wheel.

This makes it the second-biggest cause of road deaths in France, Pierre Chasseray, from “40 million motorists,” told The Local on Monday.

The group found that alcohol is still the leading cause of mortality on French roads, responsible for one third of deaths.

‘Sleep-deprived driving’ as it is sometimes known, contributed to 27 percent of road deaths (800) last year, which makes it more dangerous than excessive speed.

Chasseray and his organization have called on the French government to take specific measures to bring down the death toll linked to drivers’ fatigue.

“The first thing they should do is send out the message to drivers, to remind them how dangerous it is, to encourage them to be vigilant, to at least have a cup of coffee, and if they feel tired, to stop the vehicle and sleep a little bit,” Chasseray told The Local.

“The second thing they should do is make motorway crash barriers and other safety structures universal in France, and roll them out across the country,” he added.

As well as causing 800 deaths per year, Monday’s report also found that 90,000 non fatal road accidents were linked to drivers’ fatigue.

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French motorway breakdown services cost rises

Breaking down on a French motorway just got more expensive, as the government raised the prices that breakdown services can charge.

French motorway breakdown services cost rises

If you do break down, you should use the nearest emergency call box rather than your mobile phone (they’re about 2km apart). This puts you immediately in touch with the motorway company, and means your car is easier to locate. 

READ ALSO: Who to call and what to say in a driving emergency in France

If your vehicle can be repaired at the side of the motorway in 30 minutes or less, you will be charged a government-set fee. A decree published in September 2022 indicated that the fee would rise from €131.94 in 2021, to €138.01, plus parts.

If, however, the repair is likely to take longer, your vehicle will be towed. You can decide whether your vehicle is taken to the garage to which the truck belongs, or one of your own choice, or another location within an acceptable distance.

For breakdown assistance that requires a tow (to a rest or service area, to a garage or to a location chosen by the motorist), this rate – again, set by the government annually – varies according to the weight of the vehicle.

These charges are now:

  • €138.01 for vehicles weighing no more than 1.8 tonnes (up from €131.94 in 2021);
  • €170.65 for vehicles with a total weight greater than 1.8 tonnes and less than 3.5 tonnes (up from €163.15).

Be aware: Add 50 percent to these charges if the call was made at weekends and public holidays, or between the hours of 6pm and 6am Monday to Friday.

Meanwhile, running out of fuel is not considered an unforeseen emergency for stopping at the side of a motorway. Motorists are expected to keep an eye on their fuel gauge and ensure they have enough fuel to complete their journey or to be able to reach the nearest service station.

For full details on what to do if your car breaks down in France, plus some handy French vocab, click HERE.