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Which French politician is the worst driver?
A French magazine followed the five top ministers for months and recorded an array of driving violations. Photo: Alain Jocard/AFP

Which French politician is the worst driver?

Joshua Melvin · 3 Jul 2014, 15:47

Published: 03 Jul 2014 15:47 GMT+02:00

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The top honours for bad driving among five of France’s political elite go to Prime Minister Manuel Valls and his high-speed entourage, who sometimes even drive the wrong way down one-way streets.

During the two months French car magazine Auto Plus’s reporters spent following Valls they found he and his entourage of three minivans, two undercover police cars and two motorcycles were frequently 20 km/h over the speed limit when driving in cities. It's worth noting the magazine didn't spell out when it was Valls himself behind the wheel and when it was his driver. 

The minister’s record performance came on May 16th when his car was doing 160 km/h in a 90 km/h zone, French daily Le Parisien reported.

Such major disregard for France’s speed limits would normally be cause for a person to immediately lose his license, but for Valls’ entourage it simply meant a quick ride back to the capital from Normandy.

Before becoming prime minister, Valls was interior minister, colloquially known as France’s top cop. In fact he spoke passionately earlier this year about the need to further reduce the country’s road deaths, which hit their lowest level ever in 2013.

Valls’ press people didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the report.

Valls' successor as interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, is not much more responsible, Auto Plus found.

“Government business can’t wait! Maybe, despite their nice speeches about driving safely and following the rules of the road, François Hollande, Manuel Valls and Bernard Cazeneuve aren’t setting a very good example,” Le Parisien wrote.

However in the president's defence Auto Plus did describe France’s unassuming president as almost a “normal” driver, adding: “In general his car stops at red lights and doesn’t flash its revolving police light to get around the cars in front of it.”

Though when Hollande went to his hometown of Tulle in south-western France to vote in the European Parliament elections his entourage hit 160 km/h on the motorway, which in France has a maximum speed of 130 km/h, although it is lower in some places.

Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg’s chauffeur is also quasi-normal, though he is known to blow through red lights and hit the accelerator when time is tight.

However Auto Plus did find one exemplary driver among the bunch. Ecology Minister Segolène Royal, who also happens to be the president’s ex, obeys speed limits, stops at traffic lights and even leaves a lighter carbon footprint. Her car is electric.

Here is a short video from Auto Plus showing some of the politicians' bad driving. It's in French however.

Filature du président et des ministres : Auto... par autoplus

Joshua Melvin (joshua.melvin@thelocal.com)

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