France Gets A Grip On Road Safety Crisis – Captain Slow in Maranello

TODAY: a large rise in the number of fatal road accidents in France recently is not – quite – as bad as it seems.

GIBRALTAR FRONTIER WATCH: delays peaked at one hour morning and evening.



Fatal accidents increase less than feared in April and May.

Photo @TheBenOliver

Photo @TheBenOliver

It is too late, but the French media has finally cottoned on to the country’s road safety ‘crisis’.

Blanket coverage yesterday was devoted to the news that fatal accidents had increased by 15% in May compared to the same month last year. This comes on top of a(n unreported) rise of 28% in March and 8% in April.

As we have said many times, the introduction of unmarked speed camera cars in March 2013 led to a sudden, sharp drop in the number of serious accidents, peaking in a cut of 29.5% in May 2013. The effect of the camera cars quickly wore off however – as Securite Routiere acknowledged earlier this month – meaning large rises were inevitable this year.

That the increases for the last two months have not been as large as the cuts in the corresponding months in 2013 suggests – counter intuitively – that in real terms the number of fatal accidents in France is actually falling.

The good news is that the horrendous rises seen in the past few months are unlikely to be repeated for the rest of the year. Fatal road accidents fell by only 10% in June 2013 and 3.3% in August 2013.

Meanwhile, the longer term road safety strategy is unfolding. Increased traffic police presence was painfully apparent for many after last week’s Le Mans 24 Hours race. An experiment with an 80kmh speed limit on some main roads is about to go ahead. A raft of road safety campaigns are being rolled out, more unmarked camera cars are being deployed while police are chasing down every little infraction: a Facebook group is being prosecuted for listing speed camera locations and pedestrians in at least one city are being fined enmasse for jaywalking.

July and August are traditionally two of the worst months for accidents. While 2013 was still a record year for road safety in France overall, the only category of accidents that grew were those on highways. Either keep a close eye on your speed, or go to Germany instead.


Captain Slow? Rubber laid down by @MrJamesMay at a Ferrari filming session in Maranello on Tuesday. Photo Jason Harris, @FNEPR.

Captain Slow? Rubber laid down by @MrJamesMay at a Ferrari filming session in Maranello on Tuesday. Photo Jason Harris, @FNEPR.


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