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DRIVING FRANCE

Mobile app to help avoid fatal motorway fatigue

Gearing up for a long drive through France this summer? It might be wise to take note of a new study that reveals drowsiness is the biggest cause of death on French motorways. A new mobile app has been created to help drivers avoid the dangers.

Mobile app to help avoid fatal motorway fatigue
Drowsiness is the biggest cause of fatalities on French motorways. Photo: Mark Winterbourne

Just as thousands of holidaymakers are about to descend on France from all over Europe, a new study should spark an element of caution among motorists.

According to a study publish on Wednesday by the French Association of Motorway Organisations (ASFA) it is not speed which is causing the greatest number of deaths on French motorways,  but fatigue.

Although the number of fatalities on French motorways, or autoroutes as the are called here, is 25 times less than on France’s national or departmental roads, scores of people are still killed on the highways each year.

According to the ASFA study 40 percent of those deaths are due to a lack of vigilance, caused by fatigue, drowsiness or lack of concentration.

Most of the fatal accidents on French motorways occur late at night, in the early hours of the morning, or in the afternoon, when drivers are most vulnerable to fatigue and tiredness.

In all one in three accidents on French motorways are caused by fatigue.

The second cause of death on fatal road accidents on French motorways is drink or drug driving, which is the reason behind one in five deaths.

The study also found that the month of July is the deadliest month on French motorways, with one fatality every two days.

The official advice for drivers to avoid putting themselves at risk of nodding off at the wheel is to stop every two hours to rehydrate.

Smartphone app to help drowsy drivers

In a bid to tackle the problem a French company has created a smartphone so drivers can test their reaction speeds to see whether they are awake enough to take to the road.

Fondation Vinci Autoroutes, which operates motorways in France has developed the smartphone app called “Drive Awake” (“Roulez eveillé” in French), which is already available on iPhones.

It has been designed by neuroscientists from the University of Strasbourg the application is a “simple test” based on measuring the reaction time of the user to a visual stimulus test.

Professor André Dufour told AFP the app had been tested on people who suffered from sleep deprivation and that “it was very sensitive to changes in reaction times.”

For more information on the app, CLICK HERE.

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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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