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LIVING IN FRANCE

How France aims to make its roads safer for drivers and pedestrians

The French government has announced a series of measures aimed at cutting rising road deaths and ridding drivers of certain bad habits. Here's a look at what is planned to make driving in France safer.

How France aims to make its roads safer for drivers and pedestrians
AFP
In 2013 the number of road deaths in France stood at 3,268 – an all-time low.
 
But since then the toll has been rising steadily once again and in 2017 there were nearly 3,500 – double the number of fatalities on roads in the UK (1,792).
 
The French government has decided to act.
 
“Unsafe roads are not unavoidable,” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said after a meeting of the government's road safety council this week, adding that road accidents had killed 105 people in France over the recent festive holidays.
 
These are the main measures the government announced and given their roles in the number of deaths it's no surprise they targeted speeding, drink-driving and those who use mobile phones at the wheel.
 
Cuts to speed limits
 
 
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The stand out move by the government and one that has long been mooted was to cut the speed limit on secondary two-lane highways to 80 kilometres per hour from 90 kilometres (55 miles) per hour.
 
About 55 percent of those deaths – 1,911 victims – occurred on the 400,000 kilometres of so-called “secondary” roads across France, two-lane routes with no separating guardrail.
 
“Excessive or inappropriate” speed was involved in 32 percent of those fatal accidents, which far exceeded those in urban areas.
 
The government says the lower speed limit, which will come into force in July 2018, could save 350 to 400 lives a year.
 
Opponents say speed isn't the problem, but rather the dangerous behaviour of many drivers.
 
“There's no reason to change speed limits: cars are getting better, as is road quality,” said Daniel Quero, president of the 40 Million Drivers advocacy group.
 
Signs already warn drivers to slow to 70 kmh in dangerous sections, Quero said, calling the government's plan “one more penalizing measure”.
 
Mobile phones
 
 
The French government also announced a crack down on the use of cellphones while driving, an infraction that currently results in a 135-euro fine ($160) and the loss of three points from the 12-point driver's licence.
 
The use of mobile phones by drivers is linked to one in 10 fatal accidents in France.
 
From 2019 police will be able to suspend a licence for up to six months if the driver is found to have broken other laws while using a phone which could “endanger his own security or that of someone else.”
 
Vehicle Ignition breathalyzers (Ignition Interlock)
 
 
The French government has also vowed to take on drink drivers and in particular repeat offenders.
 
Alcohol is linked to around 30 percent of all road deaths in France and over the years French governments have tried various moves to cut that alarming figure.
 
In 2012 drivers were ordered to carry a portable breathalyser kit in each car, but interestingly that  measure has been ditched by the current government.
 
From now on anyone caught driving over the limit for a second time will be forced to fit their car with a vehicle ignition breathalyser or ignition interlock, which means they will have to take a test before they can start their car.
 
If they are over the limit the engine simply won't start. The rogue drivers will also be asked to visit a specialist psychologist.
 
The technology was made compulsory in all coaches and buses in 2015. 
 
Ignition interlocks or EAD's (éthylotest antidémarrage) as they are known in France can be also be voluntary fitted by drivers who have had their licences suspended for drink-driving but want to keep on driving.
 
And to fight against drink driving portable breathalyser kits will be routinely placed in shops next to where alcoholic drinks are sold.
 
Speed controllers for racing drivers
 
From 2021 the government will make it possible for speeding drivers who have had their licenses suspended after being caught going 40km/h over the speed limit to continue driving as long as they fit an automatic speed control device to their car, which would effectively cap their speeds according to the limit of each road.
 
 
Protecting pedestrians
 
The French government also wants to better protect pedestrians from drivers.
 
Some 559 pedestrians were killed in road accidents in 2016 a rise of 19.4 percent on the previous year. For a start the government wants to increase the punishment of drivers who fail to respect the rules when pedestrians have priority such as at crossings (once they have stepped out into the road).
 
The government has suggested video cameras will be used to spot and fine those who don't stop when they should.
 
A scheme is also being planned to better secure the immediate surroundings of pedestrian crossings by redefining parking spaces and markings on the ground. Lines could be painted on roads five metres before crossings as a warning that motorists must stop.
 
Exemplary drivers
 
Although nothing is set in stone the French government has announced it will be considering some way of rewarding exemplary drivers in France – in other words those who have received no penalty points on their licences.
 
Some 37 million drivers in France have a clean licence. The National Committee on Road Safety (CNSR) has been tasked to define the scheme.
 
Police checks hidden from apps
 
From the end of this year the police in France will be able to demand those behind road apps to prevent users from letting others know where they have set up police checks.
 
They will only be able to do this as part of a plan to snare drink or drug drivers rather than those going over the speed limit and it can only be done on a temporary basis.
 
Car pound for serious offenses
 
Beginning in 2019, serious offenders, such as those caught driving without a license, using a narcotic, or being caught well over the limit, will have their vehicle immediately impounded.
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LIVING IN FRANCE

What changes in France in July 2022

Summer's here and the time is right for national celebrations, traffic jams, strikes, Paris beaches, and ... changing the rules for new boilers.

What changes in France in July 2022

Summer holidays

The holiday season in France officially begins on Thursday, July 7th, as this is the date when school’s out for the summer. The weekend immediately after the end of the school year is expected to be a busy one on the roads and the railways as families start heading off on vacation.

READ ALSO 8 things to know about driving in France this summer

Strikes

But it wouldn’t really be summer in France without a few strikes – airport employees at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports will walk out on July 1st, while SNCF rail staff will strike on July 6th. Meanwhile Ryanair employees at Paris, Marseille and Toulouse airports will strike on yet-to-be-confirmed dates in July.

READ ALSO How strikes and staff shortages will affect summer in France

Parliamentary fireworks?

Prime minister Elisabeth Borne will present the government’s new programme in parliament on July 5th – this is expected to be a tricky day for the Macron government, not only does it not have the parliamentary majority that it needs to pass legislation like the new package of financial aid to help householders deal with the cost-of-living crisis, but opposition parties have indicated that they will table a motion of no confidence against Borne.

Parliament usually breaks for the summer at the end of July, but a special extended session to allow legislation to be passed means that MPs won’t get to go on holiday until at least August 9th. 

Fête nationale

July 14th is a public holiday in France, commemorating the storming of the Bastille which was the symbolic start of the French Revolution. As usual, towns and cities will host parades and fireworks – with the biggest military parade taking place on the Champs-Elysées in Paris – and many stores will remain closed.

As the national holiday falls on a Thursday this year, many French workers will take the opportunity to faire le pont.

Festival season really kicks in

You know summer’s here when France gets festival fever, with events in towns and cities across the country. You can find our pick of the summer celebrations here.

Paris Plages

The capital’s popular urban beaches return on July 9th on the banks of the Seine and beside the Bassin de la Villette in northern Paris, bringing taste of the seaside to the capital with swimming spots, desk chairs, beach games and entertainment.  

Summer sales end 

Summer sales across most of the country end on July 19th – unless you live in Alpes-Maritimes, when they run from July 6th to August 2nd, or the island of Corsica (July 13th to August 9th).

Tour de France

The Tour de France cycle race sets off on July 1st from Copenhagen and finishes up on the Champs-Elysée in Paris on July 24th.

New boilers

From July 1st, 2022, new equipment installed for heating or hot water in residential or professional buildings, must comply with a greenhouse gas emissions ceiling of 300 gCO2eq/KWh PCI. 

That’s a technical way of saying oil or coal-fired boilers can no longer be installed. Nor can any other type of boiler that exceeds the ceiling.

As per a decree published in the Journal Officiel in January, existing appliances can continue to be used, maintained and repaired, but financial aid of up to €11,000 is planned to encourage their replacement. 

Bike helmets

New standards for motorbike helmets come into effect from July 1st. Riders do not need to change their current helmets, but the “ECE 22.05” standard can no longer be issued – and all helmets sold must adhere to a new, more stringent “ECE 22.06” standards from July 2024

New cars

From July 6th new car models must be equipped with a black box that record driving parameters such as speed, acceleration or braking phases, wearing (or not) of a seat belt, indicator use, the force of the collision or engine speed, in case of accidents.

New cars II

From July 1st, the ecological bonus for anyone who buys an electric vehicle drops by €1,000, while rechargeable hybrids will be excluded from the aid system, “which will be reserved for electric vehicles whose CO2 emission rate is less than or equal to 20g/km”.

What’s in a name?

Historically, the French have been quite restrictive on the use of family names – remember the concern over the use of birth names on Covid vaccine documents? – but it becomes easier for an adult to choose to bear the name of his mother, his father, or both by a simple declaration to the civil status. All you have to do is declare your choice by form at the town hall of your home or place of birth.

Eco loans

In concert with the new boiler rules, a zero-interest loan of up to €30,000 to finance energy-saving renovations can be combined with MaPrimeRénov’, a subsidy for financing the same work, under certain conditions, from July 1st.

Rent rules

Non-professional private landlords advertising properties for rent must, from July 1st, include specific information about the property on the ad, including the size of the property in square metres, the area of town in which the property is in, the monthly rent and any supplements, whether the property is in a rent-control area, and the security deposit required. Further information, including the full list of requirements for any ad, is available here.

Perfume ban

More perfumes are to be added to a banned list for products used by children, such as soap-making kits, cosmetic sets, shampoos, or sweet-making games, or toys that have an aroma.

Atranol, chloroatranol (extracts of oak moss containing tannins), and methyl carbonate heptin, which smells like violets, will be banned from July 5th, because of their possible allergenic effects.

Furthermore, 71 new allergenic fragrances – including camphor, menthol, vanilin, eucalyptus spp. leaf oil, rose flower oil, lavendula officinalis, turpentine – will be added to the list of ingredients that must be clearly indicated on a toy or on an attached label.

Ticket resto limits

The increased ticket resto limit ended on June 30th, so from July 1st employees who receive the restaurant vouchers will once again be limited to spending €19 per day in restaurants, cafés and bars. The limit was increased to €38 during the pandemic, when workers were working from home.

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