NEWS: The new French Prime Minister made a canny move just ahead of the latest road safety figures. Plus, a good way to lessen the pain of expensive Oresund Link tolls.
FRANCE ROAD DEATHS RISE BY 28% IN MARCH
Govt blames the weather and one-offs but the rise was predicted
Manuel Valls jumped ship at exactly the right moment.
The former Interior Minister, responsible for road safety, was promoted to Prime Minister earlier this month after disastrous local election results for the ruling party.
The move came shortly before it was announced – at 16:30 on the day before Good Friday – that roads deaths had increased by a hefty 28% in March 2014 compared to March 2013.
The accompanying statement from Securite Routiere says, ‘This sudden increase in road accidents can be explained by a particularly mild cold weather which favoured travel compared to the snowfall and storms in March 2013. It is also linked to a cyclical factor: lower fuel prices which encourages more vehicle use. It’s finally down to some particularly serious accidents that have devastated some regions.’
It also makes the point that on a rolling annual basis road deaths are down 6.3% overall.
However, this large increase in road deaths was not unexpected. We predicted that the March results would be telling.
March 2013 saw the introduction of unmarked police speed camera cars which immediately led to large falls in road deaths, peaking at a cut of 29.5% in May 2013. However the effect fell away through the rest of the year. By this January and February road deaths had actually started to rise again compared to the same months in 2013. Assuming this trend continued a big increase in March was inevitable.
The question, as ever, is what the police and authorities will do next? The press may be prepared to treat last month’s figures as an unfortunate blip but the likely prospect is of even bigger rises in the months to come.