France lowers speed limit

A traffic accident in France
A traffic accident in France
By Mark Armstrong
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The French government hopes thousands of lives a year can be saved by lowering the speed limit on secondary roads from 90 to 80km an hour

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On Sunday the speed limit on secondary roads in France was due to fall from 90 to 80 km an hour.

The government claims the reduction could save between 300 and 400 lives per year, as well as lead to less serious injuries.

The new limit will only apply on two-way roads with no central reservation. These highways alone account for half of all fatal traffic accidents in France. Dual carriageways and motorways will be unaffected by the change.

The new limit brings France into line with Ireland, the Netherlands, Malta, Sweden and Denmark, although Denmark has since reverted to ninety.

But on the surface, the figures do support France, where considerably more people died in accidents on secondary roads compared to the others in 2015. In fact, in the figure in France was twice that of Malta and Sweden. Of course, speed may not have been the only factor, but the figures tell us that the European countries with the lowest speed limits suffer fewer road fatalities.

France, with nearly 3,700 deaths in 2017, is below the European average, but it is still a toll the government no longer wants to tolerate.

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