France introduces lower speed limit on ‘secondary’ roads

08.09 | 4 July 2018 | | 4 comments

A new lower speed limit on country roads has come into effect in France, in a move which is designed to save 400 lives annually.

On 1 July, the maximum speed dropped from 90km/h (56mph) to 80km/h (50mph) on the country’s 400,000 kilometre of secondary roads which do not have a central partition.

The French government says the new limit, which will be evaluated in July 2020, will reduce road deaths – which last year totalled 3,684 – by 400 a year.

Officials also say the lower speeds will be good for the environment, cutting vehicle emissions by as much as 30%.

However, the new limit is not popular among the French public, with a recent poll showing 74% were against the change, with many seeing it as an attack on their personal freedom.

In the UK, a new report published earlier this week recommends that the 60mph speed limit should be lowered on thousands of miles of rural roads.

The Road Safety Management Capacity Review, commissioned by the DfT and carried out by the Systra consultancy, recommends reviewing national speed limits, with a particular emphasis on single carriageways in the countryside.

The report suggests that 5% decrease in mean speed could produce a 30% reduction in deaths on these roads.

The DfT has confirmed it is considering the review’s findings as it works towards publishing a new two-year road safety plan.


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    “..complicate their daily lives”?? Life in rural France must be far more simpler and undemanding than I ever imagined.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (1) | Disagree (3)

    slow news week? Saw this on BBC website a couple of weeks ago.

    to quote from the BBC article:
    “The new measure may be motivated by the best of intentions. But, unfortunately for the government, that is not how most people see it.

    Polls show that around the country reaction is hostile and suspicious.

    Many drivers say the lower speed limit is unnecessary, based on erroneous analysis, and will complicate their daily lives. Some feel it is a cynical ploy to raise more money from fines.”

    Seems that we may have more in common with the french than we first have thought. An own goal for the government by most people’s reckoning? UK Gov take note.

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (5) | Disagree (2)

    Did the French government really say “the new limit WILL reduce road deaths … by 400 a year”? If so then that’s the conclusions to their evaluation in 2 years time already written. All that remains is to make whatever data comes in fit those conclusions.

    If the French government ran their speed limit reductions within scientific trials, then we would have proof that 400 lives were indeed saved and the French citizens could then support this policy.

    dave finney, Slough
    Agree (8) | Disagree (4)

    Having just come back from riding my cruiser through France and being aware of the new lower limits as most other road users were. It was interesting to note that on many dual lane roads all the traffic was travelling for mile after mile at 80kph in the right hand lane while the left overtaking lane for mile after mile remained clear of any traffic.

    Agree (6) | Disagree (0)

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