Is France about to scrap its highly unpopular 80 km/h speed limit?

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Is France about to scrap its highly unpopular 80 km/h speed limit?
Many speed cameras have been vandalised. Photo: AFP

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 one of the major complaints of the 'yellow vest' movement.

Many of the people living in rural areas in France see the limit as nothing more than a way for the government to make money from them via speeding fines, and speed cameras became a major target for the 'yellow vests' in the early days of the movement.

In fact the government estimated that at one point 80 percent of the country's speed cameras had been torched, covered up or otherwise vandalised by 'yellow vests'.


Edouard Philippe indicated that he was willing for local governments to decide on the issue. Photo: AFP

The government insists that the new measure was about safety and an attempt to cut the number of road deaths in France.

But now it seems that the government may be bowing to the pressure. 

On Thursday Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told France Info that he would be willing to devolve the issue to local government offices.

"If the presidents of departmental councils wish to assume their responsibilities, I have no problem with that," he said, but added that this was on the condition that this must be "systematically accompanied by measures" guaranteeing "the highest possible level of road safety".

The new limit, down from 90 km/h, was introduced in July 2018 and applies to secondary routes in France - not motorways - which are mainly in rural areas.

The number of deaths on the roads in France fell to a historic low in 2018 with 3,259 people killed, which the government claimed as a victory for the new measures.

However in January and February of this year the casualty figures began climbing again, a state of affairs blamed by the government on the vandalising of the speed cameras.

A poll has shown that the majority of people in France - particularly those who live in rural areas - want the measures scrapped.




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