France: Road deaths up 15.4 percent on previous year

A large rise in the number of deaths on France's roads in June 2017 compared to last year shows France is still struggling to stem its high road fatality rate.

France: Road deaths up 15.4 percent on previous year
Photo: AFP
The number of deaths on French roads reported in June 2017 was up a whopping 15.4 percent on the same month last year, France's national road safety body (ONISR) has said. 
In June 2017, 329 people lost their lives on French roads compared to 285 during the same month in 2016, representing 44 more road fatalities.
The road safety body also announced that despite the contrast with last year's figures, on the whole they are up just 1.1 percent on the previous 12 months. 

British father and 10-month-old baby killed in horrific road crash in northwestern FranceFile photo: AFP

The high number of road deaths in France has been a constant issue for French governments over the years.
In June, The Local reported the tragic story of a British father and his 10-month-old baby who were killed in a road crash during their holiday in Brittany, northwestern France.
The family's car was hit from behind by an empty cattle truck on a country road in rural western Brittany.
Last year The Local reported that France's road mortality rate had increased in 2015 for the second year in a row, something the country hadn't seen for 35 years. And the fatality rate for 2016 was even higher, with a death toll of 3,469.
The former Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said in January last year that one of the primary reasons for the higher toll was increase in road traffic but also drivers taking risks.
“The rise also reflects an increase in risky behaviour that can lead to serious accident fatalities,” he said. 
The former minister also said French drivers were “too relaxed” when it came to following the road rules, and that many motorists continued to drive “at excessive speed”.
A study in April 2015 from BVA found that 75 percent of French people acknowledged that they don't always stick to the speed limit. 
“This is not acceptable! This behavior is irresponsible and may be criminal,” Cazeneuve had said.


Drivers in France to be spied on by 400 ‘super speed cameras’

Hundreds of hi-tech “speed cameras of the future” are to be be installed this year on roads across France, which has had three quarters of its existing cameras vandalised since the start of the “yellow vest” protests several months ago.

Drivers in France to be spied on by 400 'super speed cameras'
A vandalised speed camera in Corsica in December. Photo: AFP

The cameras, perched on four-metre tall posts, have been tested in Marseille and Strasbourg and now 400 of them will be rolled out over the coming year, with three times that number to be set up next year, France Info reported.

The devices are capable of not only clocking your speed but also recording a variety of other misdemeanours, such as phoning while driving, sudden swerving, not wearing a seatbelt, or overtaking on the right, which is illegal in France.

But in the short term the cameras, whose brand name is the Mesta Fusion 2 and which can monitor eight lanes of traffic and several vehicles at once, will be used only to catch people speeding.


There will be four decoy cameras for each operating one, and the decoys and the real ones will be switched regularly to prevent drivers figuring out which are the ones catching them breaking the law.

The new cameras are said to be far harder to vandalise than existing ones.


The French government last week blamed a steep rise in road deaths in February on the yellow vest movement, during which three quarters of speed cameras on the country’s roads have been vandalised or put out of action in recent months.

Official figures said that 253 people were killed on the roads in France in February, a 17.1 percent increase on the same time last year.

Previously road deaths had been going down. There were 3,259 deaths on the country's roads in 2018 – down from 3,448 deaths the previous year.

But they have started to rise again since the yellow vest movement began late last year.

Some protesters angry about planned rises in fuel tax and the rising costs of travel to work, and about a recent lowering of speed limits on some roads, turned their ire on speed cameras.