French Drivers Faster And More Distracted

Part of the reason behind France’s rocky recent road safety record is uncovered but we are no nearer to knowing why.

A quick look at Switzerland’s Lake Thun. Major work on Belgium E40 starts this weekend. The return of mega-queues on the Hungary-Austria border as migrant crossings leap. Weight limit cut for trucks in Ireland. Eco-plan for Paris peripherique as 30kmh zones spread.



Study pinpoints the reasons for rising motorway fatalities but can’t say why.

The latest ina series of Securite Routiere adverts trying to impress on drivers the aftershock among family and friends after road accidents. They don't seem to be working.

The latest in a series of Securite Routiere adverts trying to impress on drivers the aftershock among family and friends following a road accident. They don’t seem to be working.

The most disturbing road safety statistic in France last year was that motorway fatalities had risen by 23.1 percent.

Along with the UK and the Netherlands, France has had the safest motorways in Europe, according to a 2014 study, even as secondary road safety dragged its overall record to below the EU average.

A survey published by autoroute operator SANEF last week suggests the increase is because drivers have suddenly got faster, and are more distracted by mobile phones.

The firm observed 140,000 drivers on part of the A13 between Caen and Paris in March.

SANEF says motorway speeds have been stable since the annual survey started in 2012 – at an average 127kmh – but rose to 129kmh last year, an increase it says is significant.

And the number of drivers exceeding the limit jumped from 37 percent to 43 percent.

The firm reckons speed is a factor in 70 percent of motorway accidents.

Meanwhile, the proportion of drivers visibly using mobile phones rose from 3.7 percent in 2015 to 4.9 percent last year.

However, more positively, tailgating has fallen by half, from 30 percent of drivers in 2012 to 17 percent last year.

The only thing the SANEF study does not pinpoint is why drivers have suddenly got faster and more distracted.

With a high profile increase in unmarked police radar cars and speed cameras the opposite should be true.

It also puts paid to our theory that the reason behind France’s sharp reverse in road safety in recent years is because recession-hit drivers avoided expensive autoroute tolls in favour of the free – but much less safe – secondary roads.


A quick look at Lake Thun. More later.

Not as famous or glamorous as Lake Geneva and Lake Lucerne which it lies – roughly – in between, in the western half of Switzerland, but the clumpy-sounding Lake Thun does have something going for it, not least the road along the north shore (pictured). Add to that the comely town of Interlaken – which translates as ‘between the lakes’ – which lies not only right between Lakes Thun and Brienz but also alongside the River Aare, the whole lot surrounded by Bernese Alps. Chris Pointon is a big fan saying it’s a beautiful place to visit, summer or winter. Meanwhile, Switzerland’s steepest road at 28 percent is just to the south, up to Kiental and beyond. Photo Earth Pics


roundup: fifteen kilometers of the coastbound E40 in Belgium – between Brussels and Gent – gets a thorough makeover from this Friday (8 July) starting at 22:00. The section is between Erpe Meer near Aalst and Zwijnaarde at Gent. The work is split into two main phases either side of Wetteren – from 8-17 July for the Gent end and 29 July – 14 August for the Aalst end. There will always be two (narrowed) lanes open in each direction but the R4 junction at Merelbeke will be closed during phase one, and the N42 junction at Wetteren is closed during phase two (and the parking at Wetteren too). In addition, overnight for twelve nights in August the fast lane will be relaid with only one lane open to traffic. Similar work last year on E40 caused regular 45 minute delays – consider the E42 route via Lille and Charleroi to get between the Channel ports and east Belgium… for the second day running, very long delays have built up on the M1-A4 Budapest-Vienna border crossing. Trucks waited up to six hours yesterday while the total queue peaked at 27km this morning before settling back to 12km in the afternoon with a waiting time of three hours reports Daily News Hungary. Cars are being let through but progress is slow. After a long period of relative quiet at the Hungary-Austria border the delays are blamed on ad hoc checks by the Austrian authorities. Update 6 July: there have been no queues at the Austria border so far today but with the current sharp growth in attempted irregular border crossings into Hungary they surely cannot be ruled out in the future – figures reported by Daily News Hungary today show more than 1000 in the past 24 hours compared to a daily average of 16 in January, 79 in February and 120 in June… the maximum weight for a two axle tractor unit towing a three axle semi-trailer in Ireland has been cut from 42t to 40t as of 1 July according to a press release from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. A derogation for the higher limit had been in place since 2003… trucks could be banned and other vehicles limited to 50kmh with space reserved for walkers and cyclists on the Paris peripherique in a plan endorsed by mayor Anne Hidalgo today, according to Le Parisien. However, nothing is likely to happen before 2030. Meanwhile, another 154km of 30kmh zones will be rolled out this year says the deputy mayor, in the north and south of the city, joining eastern Paris which is already almost all 30kmh. 


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