Why the French prime minister is being sued over speed bumps

Three French ministers, including the Prime Minister, are being sued over 'too high' speed bumps by a motoring organisation which claims they endanger safety and increase pollution.

Why the French prime minister is being sued over speed bumps
A speed limit sign at 30 km per hour below a sign for a speed bump in Grenoble, France. (Photo by JEAN-PIERRE CLATOT / AFP)

The association “For a Serene and Sustainable Mobility” (Pour une mobilité sereine et durable) has filed a complaint against French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, along with Minister of Environment Christophe Béchu and Minister of Transport Clément Beaune, for endangerment and inaction, according to reporting by Ouest France.

The organisation’s lawyer, Rémy Josseaume, said that the subject of their complaint is the “general laxity” with which speed bumps have been implemented across the country.

The group also cited an increase in pollution as a result of the non-standard bumps, which explains why the ministers of transport and environment were targeted in the grievance.

According to RTL, the organisation has previously attempted to file complaints over “approximately 450,000 speed bumps of all types that do not comply with the regulations.” This most recent complaint has been filed with the Court of Justice of the Republic, accusing the ministers of “deliberately endangering the lives of others.”

The association cites a study conducted over the summer, which found that at least a third of French speed bumps are out of compliance. 

“There are particular consequences linked to noise problems, issues with cracks in certain houses” said Josseaume said to RTL. “These are extremely significant nuisances for fuel consumption and in terms of CO2 emissions.”

These findings have been supported by the Drivers Defence League found that “standard speed bumps increase fuel consumption by 10.5 to 13 percent; whereas, non-standard ones increase consumption by 26 to 28 percent,” the group told Ouest France in 2021.

“For a Serene and Sustainable Mobility” hopes to see all of the non-compliant speed bumps fixed, meaning that they should not exceed ten centimetres in height, four metres in length, and that they should only be installed zones where the speed limit is below 30km/h. 

In addition to the complaint citing endangerment, Josseaume also told RTL that an appeal was filed against the State with the administrative court over inaction and a “serious failure to meet its obligations to combat pollution.” 

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Macron calls for stricter Twitter controls on Covid disinformation

French President Emmanuel Macron criticised Twitter's new boss Elon Musk on Thursday, saying the entrepreneur was wrong to drop the fight against Covid disinformation as he slashes back content moderation on the platform.

Macron calls for stricter Twitter controls on Covid disinformation

With his country facing a fresh surge in coronavirus infections, Macron said the subject of misleading Covid information should be addressed head on, not swept under the rug.

“I think this is a big issue,” Macron, on a state visit to the United States, told broadcaster ABC. “What I push very much, for one, is exactly the opposite: more regulation.”

He said such protections have been implemented and enforced in France and “at the European level.”

Freedom of expression remains paramount, Macron insisted, “but there is responsibilities and limits” to what can be written and disseminated.

“You cannot go into the streets and have a racist speech or anti-Semitic speech,” the French leader said. “You cannot put at risk the life of somebody else. Violence is never legitimate in democracy.”

Macron’s concept of freedom of expression within acceptable limits is far from the libertarian approach of Musk, a self-described “free speech absolutist” who has sacked many of the Twitter employees tasked with content moderation.

Musk has begun to allow Twitter users banned from the platform for posting disinformation, such as former US president Donald Trump, to return.

And it emerged this week that Twitter has stopped enforcing a rule preventing users from sharing misleading information about Covid-19 and vaccine effectiveness.

The billionaire Musk has made no secret of his fierce opposition to health restrictions put in place to fight the pandemic, especially when they meant the temporary shuttering of his Tesla electric vehicle factory in California.

“To say that they can not leave their house and they will be arrested if they do… this is fascist. This is not democratic, this is not freedom,” Musk raged in April 2020 on a conference call with analysts.

On Wednesday the European Union issued a sharp warning to Musk, saying he must do “significantly” more to fight disinformation, such as reinforcement of content moderation, in order to comply with EU law.

“There is still huge work ahead” for Twitter, said Thierry Breton, the EU commissioner for the internal market.