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Deaths on French roads in 2020 at lowest level since WWII

Deaths on French roads dropped to their lowest level since World War II last year as Covid-19 restrictions sharply reduced car traffic, the national road safety agency said on Friday.

Deaths on French roads in 2020 at lowest level since WWII
Illustration photo: AFP

A total of 2,550 people died on the roads of mainland France, a drop of 21.4 percent from 2019.

The Securite Routiere agency said the fall was recorded in “exceptional” circumstances brought about by restrictions on movement due to the coronavirus pandemic, which had “a massive impact on road traffic”.

READ ALSO Births, marriages and a lot of deaths – what happened to France's demographics in 2020?

 

France imposed two lockdowns in 2020, as well as night-time curfews in areas where coronavirus cases were particularly high.    

The number of accidents resulting in injury and the number of injured people both fell by around 20 percent, the agency reported.

In the month of April alone – in the middle of France's first national lockdown – nationwide traffic plunged 75 percent compared to a typical pre-Covid month.

Overall car deaths fell by more than average in 2020, which the agency said was due to motorists aged over 75 cutting down on trips more than the rest of the population.

But deaths among truck drivers showed little change, as freight traffic continued close to normal levels.

The number of cyclists killed eased back only marginally, which the agency said was due to a sharp rise in the use of bicycles as people switched from public transport to bikes.

The increase in bicycle use was particularly noticeable in non-urban areas where cyclists are more likely to be killed because people tend to drive faster in the countryside, it said.

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DRIVING

What to do if you are hit by an uninsured driver in France?

Nearly 23,000 people across France were involved in a road accident with an uninsured motorist in 2021 - so here is what you need to know about being compensated in this situation.

What to do if you are hit by an uninsured driver in France?

For Julien Rencki, the head of the victims solidarity insurance fund, estimates that there are a little less than one million uninsured drivers on French roads, and he expects the number of incidents between uninsured and insured drivers to grow once more.

“In the first six months of 2022, we had already taken care of 15,000 victims, including more than 5,000 with physical injuries,” Rencki told French daily Le Parisien.

So in the not unlikely event that you are hit by an uninsured drover, what should you do?

First, you should check to see whether you are insured “against all risks” with your vehicle insurance. If so, your insurer will be required to compensate you for both injury and property damage.

READ MORE: Seven need-to-know tips for cutting the cost of car insurance in France

You should also check to see whether your plan with your insurance company has a “defence-recovery” clause (this would cover the cost of legal proceedings in the event of a dispute). 

However, if you have a partial coverage plan (in French this is: assurée qu’au tiers) and you are not entitled to compensation with your insurance company, then you can still be entitled to compensation thanks to the victim’s fund (FGA) – an association that exists to provide compensation to victims, including those of road accidents in scenarios where the perpetrator was uninsured.

In fact, if you or the passengers in your car were injured and the police intervened, and it was noted that the person responsible was uninsured or fled, then the officers would have been required to send a report to the victim’s fund. You would be able to access this on their website HERE.

To apply for this financial assistance, you will need to fill out a claim form, and provide identification as well as a copy of the police or gendarmerie report. If you do not have the latter, you can also send a copy of the accident report, as long as it was signed by both parties, or an accident statement with witness signatures. This will serve as proof that you were not at fault in the accident.

You have up to three years to appeal to the FGA.

If you are given an offer for compensation, then you can either accept or refuse it. 

READ MORE: Driving in France: Understanding the new French traffic laws

The rules on car insurance in France

In France, motorists are required to have third-party insurance, and anyone who drives without insurance risks penalties, such as a fine of up to €3,750, a licence suspension for up to three years, or the confiscation of your vehicle. Penalties may be more severe depending on how long the person is proven to have driven without a licence. 

Additionally, for the motorist without insurance, if they are responsible for an accident, they can still be required to pay the victim’s fund if indemnities are paid to the victim. These fees can amount to several thousand euros.

Vehicle insurance companies are seeking to find ways to encourage the uninsured to sign up for plans, as many cite high costs as the reason they do not have insurance. 

For instance, in September, several insurance companies set up ‘inflation packages’ to help young or unemployed drivers afford car insurance, reported Le Parisien.

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