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France rolls out more laws to fight road deaths

Ben McPartland · 2 Oct 2015, 16:22

Published: 02 Oct 2015 16:22 GMT+02:00
Updated: 02 Oct 2015 16:22 GMT+02:00

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French Prime Minister Manuel Valls laid down the law on Friday saying: "France’s roads must not be a cemetery”.

Valls has been under pressure to cut road deaths, which saw an alarming rise of 19.2 percent in July this year.

And it wasn't just a one-off. 2014 was the deadliest year on French roads in 12 years with 3,384 people losing their lives.

After a crisis meeting of various ministers Valls announced another series of measures aimed at cutting the death toll.

Here are the stand-out measures among the 22 announced.

500 new fixed cameras

The legion of new generation speed and multi-function cameras will also be backed up by a further 10,000 decoy cameras that will be installed on roads around the country over the next three years.

That will bring the number of fixed cameras from 4,200 to 4,700 and by using decoy cameras for the first time Valls says it will quadruple the areas covered by the devices.

The new cameras will not just to catch speeding drivers but to crack down on offences like jumping red lights and dangerous driving as well as catching scooter riders who are not wearing helmets.

There will also be more mobile speed cameras attached to unmarked police cars.

Breathalzser starter devices

Valls also wants courts ti be able to force those with a history of drink driving to have breathalyzers fitted into cars that must be blown into before the engine starts. 

Drones to monitor traffic

Authorities are to experiment by sending drones up into the skies to monitor traffic certain dangerous black spots. Helicopters are currently used in the same way to observe sections of roads where drivers either break the speed limit or drive too close together.

Gloves on

Gloves for motorcyclists will be mandatory. The measure is seen as important in preventing injury as riders' instincts are to throw out their hands when they fall.

Scooters to undergo tests

Anytime a scooter is sold on it will have to undergo a "contrôl technique" to ensure it is in good working order and not a risk to the rider.

Under 12s to wear helmets

Last year 16 children under the age of 15 died on the bikes so in a bid to make it safer for young cyclists the government has decided all under 12s must wear helmets.

Story continues below…

Company car drivers to be punished

Up until now authorities have been unable to punish drivers who commit offences while driving company cars, because bosses have often kept their identities hidden to make the most of a loop hole in the law.

But from now companies will be obliged to reveal the identity of drivers.

The new measures follow on from a raft of new rules announced in January by interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve, who said the government’s plan was to reduce the number of road deaths to under 2,000 a year by 2020.

One of those measures involved banning drivers from using hands-free kits for mobile phones.

On Friday Valls appealed on individuals to take responsibility for their actions he confirmed that the French were becoming less vigilant and the average speed was rising. 

The measures have been denounced by motorists groups like 40 Millions d'Automobilistes which says France has become the global leader in introducing repressive measures on drivers.

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Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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