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SPEED LIMIT

Charente department to raise speed limit on roads (as rest of France cuts it)

Just a few months after the speed limit was lowered on a large portion of France's countryside and secondary roads -- much to the anger of a large number of motorists -- the Charente department is rebelling by allowing motorists to put their foot down on certain roads.

Charente department to raise speed limit on roads (as rest of France cuts it)
Photo: AFP
When the speed limit was cut from 90km/h to 80km/h on much of France's countryside and secondary roads in July — in an effort to save lives — there were a lot of people who weren't happy about it. 
 
And it turns out that among those fuming over the move was president of Charente department François Bonneau. 
 
So, in response, he has decided to make some changes to speed limit of his own and will be increasing it on some roads in Charente — an area very popular with Brits in the west of France — from 70 km/h to 80 km/h. 
 
Bonneau has dressed up his plan as a way of creating more consistency on the roads in his area although he had previously said that the speed limit change in July was an “arbitrary” one that would be very expensive for communities and ignored the ways of rural France. 
 
So far, the speed limit has increased from 70 km/h to 80 km/h in 12 areas in the Charente and within six months, checks will be carried out in 480 other areas to see if it is makes sense to raise the speed limit there too. 
 
The department of Bouches-du-Rhone in the south of France has made the same decision, and according to Bonneau, others will do the same thing.
 
The speed limit change introduced in July was part of the French government's drive to improve road safety in France which has a bad record when it comes to fatal accidents, especially on the country's secondary road network.
 
A report released in April by France's observatory of road safety ONISR, looked at road deaths between 2012 and 2016 on the country's two-lane roads outside of urban areas, in other words in the countryside.
 
Out of 9,579 deaths on the roads 762 were on routes nationales, so the main roads after motorways, 8,221 were on route departementales, so secondary roads, and 596 were on smaller countryside roads.
 
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe believes the move will save 300 to 400 lives a year. Critics of the cut in the speed limit don't agree.
 
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France has changed the speed limit: Here's what you need to knowPhoto: AFP

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LIVING IN FRANCE

Does France’s return to the 90 km/h speed limit mean speeding fines will be cancelled?

The French government has said it plans to scrap its highly unpopular 80km/h speed limit on secondary roads, but does that mean that hundreds of thousands of speeding fines will be cancelled?

Does France's return to the 90 km/h speed limit mean speeding fines will be cancelled?

The French government has indicated that it may bow to pressure over the highly unpopular 80 km/h speed limit on secondary roads.

The 80 km/h speed limit on was introduced as a safety measure, but it has proved highly unpopular and is one of the major complaints of the 'yellow vest' movement.
 
A return to the 90 km/h limit could happen over the next few months, but does this mean, as some have suggested, that speeding cases already being processed will be scrapped?
 
French lawyer Rémy Josseaume, a specialist in road law, told Franceinfo that he believes 'hundreds of thousands' of speeding cases could be cancelled. 
 
READ ALSO:

Is your département planning to scrap France's 80km/h speed limit?Photo: AFP

Josseaume argues that as a result of the U-turn any motorist who was caught speeding at less than 10km/h above the 80 km/h limit, introduced in July 2018, should be able to ask for it to be scrapped.

Those caught in more serious cases of speeding may be able to ask for their offences to be downgraded, he added. 
 
However despite what Josseaume says, France's Interior Ministry's Road Safety Authority has said it has no intention of cancelling speeding tickets as a result of the return to the 90 km/h limit.
 
A statement from the ministry said: “The Road Safety Authority formally denies that the penalties for failure to comply with the maximum speed of 80 km/h on secondary roads, which entered into force on July 1st 2018, could be affected by a decision that might take place in the future.” 
 
Before the U-turn can go ahead, the French parliament must approve this amendment to the loi d'orientation des mobilités which is unlikely to happen before the summer.
 
A road safety expert told the French press last week that he thinks it is unlikely the change will be approved without a study being carried out first, which could mean an even longer delay.  
 
 
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