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France sees record fall in number of road deaths

Ben McPartland · 20 Jan 2014, 15:34

Published: 20 Jan 2014 15:34 GMT+01:00

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Travelling on French roads has never been safer with government figures released on Monday showing a record drop in the number of fatalities last year.

In 2013 the number of deaths on roads in France fell by 11 percent, Interior Minister Manuel Valls announced on Monday, meaning the number of fatalities is at its lowest level since 1948, when data was first recorded.

The 11 percent drop represented the equivalent of 400 lives saved when compared to the data for 2012.

In total there were 3250 fatalities on French roads last year. The rate of fatalities has been falling gradually since 1972, a black year on France's roads when 18,000 people were killed.

2013 saw a drop in deaths for most forms of transport, with the biggest fall seen for car passengers (14 percent); motorcyclists (3 percent); cyclists (8 percent) and deaths among pedestrians on roads also fell by 7 percent.

Valls had vowed to improve France's checkered road safety record, when the Socialist government came to power in 2012. He has taken various measures to improve road safety including rolling out new mobile speed cameras and cutting speed limits on roads including the notorious périphérique.

Valls has said a nationwide lowering of the speed limit was "unavoidable". The minister 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.

Last year he also called for the introduction of airplane style black boxes to be installed in cars.

At the annual Road Safety Council meeting in Paris, Valls announced he would ask experts to consider a plan to install “black box” recorders in French vehicles, with the aim of reducing deaths on French roads.

The term 'black box' is used to refer to the Flight Data Recorders installed on all aircraft which record information that can help investigators determine the cause of a crash.

Valls sees no reason why the same technology cannot be made available to the automobile industry.

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“Obviously these instruments wouldn’t be called on to make a record of a driver’s movements, but simply so we could know the technical events that take place in the seconds leading up to an accident,” said Valls.

In a further measure to improve safefty police in Paris announced 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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