Impressive overall gains mask a troubling underlying trend for accident statistics in France. Vladimir Putin’s redesigned limousine appears for the first time. An avalanche of slurry washes a motorist off the road in Limerick, Avenue Foch faces a car ban, the fallout from the ADAC’s car of the year scandal continues while drink drivers in Russia face mega bans.
FRENCH ACCIDENT STATS: TROUBLING TREND
New plans to cut speed limits on the national road network as previous strategy hits the buffers.
A significant drop in road deaths has been hailed a huge success in France but little attention is being paid to the underlying trend.
Around 3,250 people died in accidents on French roads in 2013, a fall of 11% on 2012.
Authorities took a hard line against speeding last year. New unmarked camera cars were introduced in March after which big gains were seen. Road fatalities fell by nearly 30% in May.
However, the effect quickly wore off. Apart from September (-9.6%) and November (-15%) the trend for falls in fatalities for the rest of the year was definitely down (-10.4% in June, -3.3% in August). October actually saw an increase of 2.7% in road deaths compared to 2012.
A fall of 3.7% in December did show a slight upswing at the year’s end though police had come under some extra pressure. Officers in Paris were told their Christmas and New Year leave would be cancelled unless they each booked at least three motorists per day.
Since it became obvious the anti-speeding measures were subject to diminishing returns the question has been how France could build on its stellar 2013 performance in 2014. The answer came at today’s press conference. Manuel Valls, the minister an responsible for road safety, unveiled plans to test a reduction in the speed limit from 90kmh to 80kmh on main roads in ten departments around the country. Such a move would save 450 lives each year if extended to the rest of France it is claimed.
The move is said to be subject to a meeting of the national road safety board later this month though a new generation of unmarked camera cars, able to read traffic coming in the opposite direction provided there is no central reservation, was launched in October.
roundup – IRELAND. 50,000 gallons of slurry cascading down a hillside in East Limerick last night narrowly missed a hearse but swept another car off the road. Nobody was injured in the incident on the Doon to Cappamore road. A rusting tank was to blame. PARIS. Avenue Foch could be pedestrianised according to reports. The broad avenue between the Arc de Triomphe and the edge of the Bois will be made over with ‘green space’ and affordable housing. The plan is set to become a flash point in the upcoming Mayoral election – it’s been described as ‘abracadabrantesque’ by one candidate, and praised by another. GERMANY. Hundreds of motorists have cancelled their ADAC membership in the wake of the scandal over falsified votes in the motoring organisation’s ‘car of the year’ contest. PR chief Michael Ramstetter has taken the fall for inflating the number of votes by a factor of ten, apparently to make the poll seem more credible. ADAC has 19m members. update: the ADAC looks unlikely to hold the contest again in future. RUSSIA. A chronic drink driver in Perm, central west Russia, has been banned for 106 years, beating the previous record by four years. Individual bans are totted up to effectively bar repeat offenders for life. Last summer, Russia’s zero tolerance approach was relaxed slightly, to 0.16g/l, to allow a tolerance for medication, etc.