Road deaths finally fall ahead of tighter new road rules in France this summer.
Also, Belgium follows Spain in publishing speeding tolerances. Norway’s new wildlife signs are working. Transplant organs are becoming rarer thanks to improving road safety in the Netherlands. Condor suffers two further setbacks with its brand new superferry.
ROUNDUP FRANCE ROAD NEWS
Road deaths finally fall ahead of new road rules this summer.
He didn’t look very happy but interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve must have been mighty relieved to announce on Saturday that road deaths fell by 11% last month compared to March 2014.
It was the first good news on road safety since it was revealed in January that road deaths rose in France in 2014 after many years of falls.
Speaking during a visit to the Fleury-en-Biere toll peage on the A6 south of Paris, Cazeneuve said the figures were ‘encouraging’ and ‘promising’ but added, ‘We must continue to act and we will act tirelessly with the desire to achieve our goals,’ referring to the national target to reduce road deaths to below 2000 by 2020 (from 3388 in 2014).
Last month marked two years since the advent of unmarked police radar cars which lead to an immediate 27% drop in the number of road deaths. The effect quickly wore off however meaning March 2014 saw a corresponding sharp rise, of 28%.
Compared to March 2012 however, last month’s figures show a healthy fall of just under eighteen percent.
Cazeneuve also said the twenty six new road rules announced alongside the annual road safety figures in January would come into effect from 30 June.
There is not much to affect visiting drivers. Head-set hands-free telephone kits are banned – though wireless Bluetooth connection is still allowed – while heavily tinted front side windows are outlawed, as is parking within five metres of pedestrian crossings, and the blood alcohol limit for drivers with less than three years of experience has been lowered from 0.5g/l to 0.2g/l.
However, the full implications of measure eighteen are yet to emerge, that a person is nominated on the registration certificate as liable for any fines*. Also, measure twenty six, on local ‘safety audits’, has campaign groups worried – despite previous denials – it could mean the end of France’s tree-lined avenues. Figures from 2013 show 326 people died after colliding with trees.
Also in June the government will announce the locations of ‘three to five’ accident prone stretches of main road where the speed limit will be cut from 90kmh to 80kmh, and the results of trials of new ‘double tap’ two-way (front and back) radar traps.
Meanwhile, according to The Connexion, on Friday parliament approved plans to ban smoking in cars carrying people under the age of eighteen though it is not clear yet when this new law will apply.
Incidentally, the man who presided over 2014’s rising road deaths has moved on. Jean-Robert Lopez, himself in the post for little more than a year, has been replaced as ‘Interministerial Delegate for Road Safety’ by former magistrate and diplomatic adviser Emmanuel Barbe.
* this measure turns out to be just for company drivers.
BELGIUM. Publicising speeding tolerances is an emerging trend. Last month, Spain said all radar traps would allow 7kmh below 100kmh and seven percent above 100kmh. Now Belgium says all registered speeds will have 6kmh taken off after an investigation showed corrections of 11kmh in places reports Deredactie.be. It doesn’t say what allowance there is above the posted speed limit; presumably none. The overall policy is called ‘Zero Tolerance’. NETHERLANDS. An unfortunate by-product of improving road safety is a declining number of organs for transplant reports DutchNews.nl. Twenty years ago there were around 1500 fatalities compared to 500 these days. However the difference is made up with improved surgical techniques. CROSSING THE CHANNEL. Poor Condor really cannot get a break. The day after its brand new £50m Liberation re-entered service after a crash on its second sailing last week – one among many other issues – an engine fault saw it two hours late yesterday. The problem was fixed overnight but this afternoon, due to ‘staff being delayed to the vessel’ – whatever that means – it finds itself another forty five minutes behind schedule. The Channel Island operator’s customers are taking these fresh setbacks with continued good humour but really, how much longer can this catalogue of bad luck go on?!