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.
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.
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.
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.