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'It's not a done deal': French resistance to cut in speed limit gathers pace

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'It's not a done deal': French resistance to cut in speed limit gathers pace
Photo: AFP
10:27 CEST+02:00
Opposition against an 80km/h speed limit on French countryside roads is growing, with just over two months to go before it is enforced on July 1st.

According to a new Axa Prevention poll, a majority of French people (76 %) are against the new measure and 78% go over the speed limits on most roads anyway (down from 83% in 2017).

For the past few months, critics of the new measure have been staging weekend protests across France and more are planned on Saturday.

“It’s not a done deal yet,” Pierre Chasseray, spokesman for the French car lobby 40 million d’Automobilistes told Le Parisien. “The French are against it.”

The government is showing no signs of backing down. It hopes the new speed limit will prevent up to 400 deaths a year in traffic accidents (last year, 3 456 people died in road accidents in the country). With the new measure it also seeks to reassure the French: according to the Axa poll, 83% of French people do not feel safe on roads in France.

The reform, which will see the speed limit reduced from 90km/h to 80km/h on all two-lane highways or specifically "on all secondary roads without a central reservation", will be implemented from July 1st 2018 until July 1st 2020 as a two-year trial.

At the end of that period further changes may be made, depending on the "effectiveness" of the measure in terms of saving lives and cutting down on injuries, the government has said.

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Road deaths in France
 
France has a sorry record for the number of fatal accidents that occur on its roads.
 
The possible law change comes at a time when road mortality has been on the rise since 2014 -- the longest period of sustained increase since 1972.
 
And it is on the two-way roads outside urban areas, mostly with speed limits of 90 km/h where 55 percent of fatal accidents took place in 2016.
 
 
The "excessive or unsuitable" speed was involved in a third (32 percent) of the fatal accidents, according to a report by France Info.
 
 
The former Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said previously 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. 

 

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