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DRIVING FRANCE

Road deaths mar first weekend of holidays

Despite pleas by road authorities and government ministers for drivers to take extra caution, the first weekend of the French summer holidays was marred by several fatalities on the country's roads. Dozens were also left injured.

Road deaths mar first weekend of holidays
Photo: Emran Kassim

The first weekend of the summer holidays was hit by tragedy when several people were left dead and numerous others injured in road accidents across the country.

On Friday, Interior Minister Manual Valls announced that 13,000 traffic police would be on duty over Saturday and Sunday and he asked drivers to show “prudence” on the roads, which were expected to be chock-a-block as holidaymakers headed out of the big cities in search of the sun.

But despite Valls’s efforts, the great summer getaway witnessed several fatal accidents.

In one of the most serious incidents over the weekend, a crash involving three vehicles on the RN 171 road in the western Loire-Atlantique region, left two dead and 11 injured. The cause of the accident has not been determined.

On Saturday a couple, aged in their 70s, who were driving the wrong way down the RN10 in the Vienne department of western France, were killed in a head-on collision with another vehicle.

And two women died overnight on Saturday in the town of Bormes-les-Mimosas, in the Var region of southern France, after the car they were driving in collided with a police vehicle. Two officers and a third passenger were left injured.

In the Paris region a driver who was pushing his car along the hard shoulder of the N104 motorway was killed when he was hit by another vehicle.

In other fatal incidents over the weekend a 23-year-old motorcyclist was killed when he lost control of his bike near the town of Vaux-le Penil in the Paris region, and a mother was left dead and four others injured in an accident in the town of Juilly, Ile-de-France.

On Sunday morning in the Loir-et-Cher department in central France, a bus from Belgium that was carrying a group of teenagers came off the road and plunged into a ditch. Thankfully there were no fatalities although ten passengers were slightly injured.

In recent months the French government has taken a number of measures to try to cut the number of road deaths including upping the number of speed cameras on roads as well as introducing mobile speed radars, which police say are virtually undetectable.

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DRIVING FRANCE

British drivers caught ‘racing’ at 265km/h on French motorway

Four British drivers have been banned from driving in France after being caught on Sunday by French police racing at speeds of up to 265km/h on a motorway near Calais.

British drivers caught 'racing' at 265km/h on French motorway
Photo: AFP

The drivers were caught on the A26 motorway in northern France just south of Calais, which is called the “Autoroute des Anglais”.

The drivers were travelling in sports cars and were taking part in a unofficial “race” down to Venice in Italy. Up to one hundred sports cars took part on Sunday, the first stage of the “rally” which was due to end in Paris.

In all, some seven British drivers were caught breaking the speed limits, with cars caught travelling between 180km/h and 265km/h, according to a report in the Voix du Nord newspaper.

They were eventually stopped by police at a motorway toll near the Setgues at around 3pm on Sunday.

The Voix du Nord newspaper, which first reported the racers, showed a picture of one of the stopped vehicles bearing logos for the Modball Rally, an 
annual event whose motto is “Drive all day… Party all night!”

Organisers did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but the Modball website says this year's rally began Sunday in London en route to 
Paris, the first leg of the rally.

The website says drivers are not supposed to race, but that doesn't stop dozens from competing to be the first to arrive at the daily destinations 
during the week-long event.

 

Four of them had their driver's licenses immediately confiscated and are to be banned from driving in France for a certain period of time.

The rogue drivers were able to depart along with their cars although they were not allowed to drive them and passengers had to take the wheel. They were also relieved of €750 by French police.

British drivers have a reputation for using French motorways as a Formula 1 track.

This kind of unofficial rally, made famous in the film “Cannonball Run”, sees drivers in Mercedes, Ferraris and other types of sports cars race down through France to various destinations around Europe..

While some drivers respect the speed limits, which on motorways in France is generally 130km/h, but others ignore the rules and prefer to race.

This year's Modball involves 180 modified speedsters heading from London to Paris, Lyon, Monaco, Venice and Vienna, where the rally is set to wrap up on Friday.

The race fee of nearly 3,000 pounds ($4,000) — or 4,000 pounds for the luxury package — also gives participants access to lavish parties, though the 
Modball website stipulates they are not “required to drink alcohol”.

And the organisers insist they do not encourage speeding.

“We focus on the events each night and keep driving time down to ensure safe journeys between cities,” they write on their Facebook page.

In 2015 French police had to draft a helicopter in to intercept a convoy of five speeding British sports cars en route to Spain.

The gendarmes dispatched a helicopter after an off-duty officer spotted a convoy that included Lamborghinis and Porshes hurtling down the A63 motorway near Biarritz.

And in 2013 British drivers' reputation for enjoying letting loose on French motorways was reinforced when seven Britons were flashed at over 190 km/h on the same stretch of motorway over one weekend. One driver's speed, believed to be over 250km/h, even broke a police radar.

In all some half a million British motorists are flashed by speed cameras in France each year. 

READ ALSO: 

Tolls, traffic and speed traps: The motorways in France you might want to avoid

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