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French drivers 'getting faster and paying less attention'
All photos: AFP

French drivers 'getting faster and paying less attention'

The Local · 1 Jul 2016, 15:35

Published: 01 Jul 2016 15:35 GMT+02:00

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The French are driving even faster and paying less attention to the roads, according to a new study from Sanef, a private company that run French motorways.
The study was based on driving patterns on the A13 motorway between Paris and Caen to the north and marked the fifth study of its kind by the company in five years. 
The results showed that the average speed of French motorists had risen from a consistent 127km/h over the past four years to 129 km/h in 2016.
Of the 140,000 vehicles observed, 43 percent hit speeds of over 130 km/h (compared to 37 percent last year), and an alarming 4 percent of drivers exceeded the 150km/h mark, a one percentage-point jump compared to last year.  
High speeds are to blame for seven of every ten road accidents in France.
Sanef's study also pointed to a worrying dearth of concentration on the roads, finding that 4.9 percent of motorists observed held their mobile while driving, against 3.7 percent in 2015.
Not only is it illegal to do this in France, but as of last year it has even been illegal to use headphones or headsets while driving. 
Sanef's study also found that 22 percent of drivers did not drive a safe distance from other cars and that one in three vehicles crowded the middle lanes instead of keeping to the right.
The disquieting statistics add to an already sombre picture of driving in 2016. 
There were 10.1 percent more road deaths in May 2016 than in May the previous year, according to the Road Safety Direction (la Sécurité routière), and the number of deaths in the first five months of 2016 marked a 3.8 percent rise on the same period in 2015. 
All this has come despite a concerted government clampdown on dangerous driving.  
France has been treating road safety as a priority ever since 2014 marked the first year since 2002 that number of people dying on the roads had risen, with 3,384 deaths. To make matters worse, 2015 saw the mortality rate increase again.
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In response, France has rolled out dozens of safety measures like adding an additional 500 fixed speed cameras and 10,000 dummy cameras.
France has also experimented with lowering the speed limit on several rural roads from 90km/h to 80km/h, and cracked down on drink-driving by lowering the legal limit for young drivers to zero.
Other recent laws included making it obligatory for child cyclists to wear helmets and motorbike riders to wear gloves.

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