The summer holiday season is fast approaching, so if you are planning a driving trip to France then this article could save you money by making aware of the changes to the speed limits.
The speed limit is to be lowered on some roads and ignorance of the new laws will not save you from a hefty fine. A minimum on the spot fine of 68 Euros (£60 at time of this article) will be incurred and up to £600 is possible if it goes to trial.
What's the reason for the change?
An alarming rise in accidents over the past three years on French roads has shown over 70,000 injuries, and 3,500 deaths. This is double what we see here on roads in the UK.
Strikingly, over 55% of these fatalities took place not on the modern, fast, motorway network, but on the 400,000km network of the ‘departmental’ A and B roads.
These are the roads that symbolise, and paint a picture of rural France. The long straight, sycamore lined, picture perfect roads, and those winding routes that roll over the fields, going from one French town, to the next, in breath-taking scenery.
The Speed Reductions
Beware. As of July 1st 2018, the National speed limit on these A and B roads is to be reduced to 80kph (50mph), down from their present 90kph (56mph). This will not affect you too much if you just plan on hitting the Autoroute motorways to get you where you want to be.
However if like me you prefer the country roads and or wish to save on Toll fees then this is going to have an effect on you.
The new law only applies to those rural roads that do not have a central reservation, or a divider. By introducing the new limits the French government road safety group, La Comité interministériel de sécurité routière, hope to save up to 400 lives per year.
The laws on all other roads will remain unchanged. These are 110kph on dual carriageways with a central reservation, 130kph on motorways, and 50kph in all urban areas. Remember though, that these speed limits are lowered during wet weather.
The French don’t like it!
Many residents of rural France are, unsurprisingly, against these new laws. Over 2m people have signed the official petition against the decision, with some polls showing 86% of rural folk being against any reduction. This hasn’t deterred the government though. Faced with ever increasing fatalities on French roads, and studies showing a clear contribution being excessive speed on single lane rural roads with no central reservation, they have decided to act.
British motoring groups have welcomed the move. RAC European driving spokesman Simon Williams has said, “It is clear that action needed to be taken to save lives”. He goes onto say, “British drivers visiting France making longer journeys are unlikely to experience too much impact as the majority of those miles will probably be driven on bigger, faster roads. British drivers will, however, clearly have to get used to driving 10mph slower on A and B roads than they would at home otherwise their visits may prove expensive.”
Many Brits have experienced the shock of the French system of ‘on the spot’ fines for motoring offences, and with French police promising a crackdown when the new laws come into effect, along with stricter enforcement of the rules concerning using mobile phones whilst in the car, the overwhelming advice must be, check your speed, and keep checking!!
On a positive note
The one big upshot of this though is, the reduced speed limit of 80kph on these rural roads, just gives you that much more opportunity to look around, and enjoy the beautiful French countryside moving just a little bit slower than it once did.
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