Plan to cut speed limits on French motorways

Plan to cut speed limits on French motorways
France could see lower speed limits brought in for certain urban sections of autoroutes. Photo: AFP
France looks set to continue its drive to cut costly air pollution in certain towns with the government ready to back reducing speed limits on urban motorway sections to 90km/h.

France’s Ecology Minister Ségolène Royal has the tough job of trying to cut air pollution, which a recent study said cost the country €100 billion a year.

Dirty air in the country’s cities is also responsible for 42,000 premature deaths each year according to the World Health Organisation.

Royal’s latest initiative to try to tackle the problem could see speed limits on France’s motorways reduced from 130km/h to 90km/h in certain sections that pass through towns.

The idea was first raised by the mayor of the town of Valence who wanted the power to reduce the maximum speed limit on the busy A7, known as the “Autoroute du soleil” which dissects the town.

Royal told Europe1 radio on Wednesday that she would be in favour of giving mayors the power they need.

“When mayors ask that speed limits to be cut in urban areas I will give them that responsibility,” said the minister.

Around 15 towns and cities in the country could benefit from the reduced speed limit, according to the mayor of Valence.

Pollution in Paris has already caused more than a few headaches this year, with the capital ranked as the most polluted city on earth on one day in March. The city's mayor responded by setting driving restrictions and offering free public transport.

Paris has also moved to ban certain trucks and coaches from the city centre if they are deemed to be polluting.

One study produced last year claimed that the air quality in Paris was so bad that it was the equivalent of being in a room with eight smokers.

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