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France sees steep drop in number of road deaths

Ben McPartland · 11 Jul 2013, 13:04

Published: 11 Jul 2013 13:04 GMT+02:00

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The number of fatalities on French roads dropped by 15.1 percent in the first half of 2013 compared to the same period last year, new figures revealed on Thursday.

The figures represent a victory for France’s Interior Minister Manuel Valls who has repeatedly vowed to cut the number of the deaths on the country’s roads.

Only last weekend several people were killed in road accidents in what was a tragic start to the French summer holiday season.

The drop by 15.1 percent represents 257 less deaths on the roads. In all, there have been 1,440 fatalities so far this year compared to 1,697 during the first six months of last year.

Although last year saw the lowest number of deaths since records began in 1948 with 3,645 fatalities, Valls wants an even further decrease and on Thursday he set a target of cutting the number of road deaths to under 2,000 by 2020.

Under the Socialist government, France has increased the number of speed cameras on the roads and also rolled out a new undetectable mobile radar to try and tackle the worst offenders.

Valls has also set his sights on improving safety around the French capital’s notorious périphérique ring road. He announced on Thursday plans to cut the speed limit on the road to 70 km/h from the current limit of 80 km/h. He also said a nationwide lowering of the speed limit was "unavoidable". Valls envisages cutting the limit on French motorways from 130km/h to 120 km/h and on other national roads from 90 km/h to 80 km/h.

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It comes after police in Paris announced last week that they would be doubling the number of speed cameras on the ring road.

According to authorities, one in every two accidents on the périphérique is caused by speeding drivers.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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