Written by Alexis Goldberg,
17th January 2018

The French government is now tightening up its road safety measures in a bid to reduce accidents. Here is what you need to know.

Driving in France is usually a complete pleasure: there are some wonderful open roads in many parts of the country and let’s face it, just so much more space and far fewer cars on the roads than in the UK. One of life’s pleasures is taking a leisurely drive down south, stopping here and there at pretty villages and making the journey as much of a joy as getting to one’s destination.

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The French government is mindful of the not brilliant statistics in France when it comes to road accidents, however. France has a higher than average road accident record compared to other EU countries, and this year will see no fewer than 18 new road safety measures being introduced in a bid to improve these figures.

The speed limit will be cut from 90kph to 80kph on main roads where there is no central barrier

The main targets will be speed, alcohol and use of mobile phones: all are being tightened up. The Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, has already announced that the speed limit will be cut from 90kph to 80kph on main roads where there is no central barrier and this is set to come into force on 1st July this year. It is hoped that just by doing this, up to 400 lives per year will be saved, but the idea is to monitor the statistics over the next two years and then take a view on its success or otherwise. Changing the signs across the country will be a cost met by the State.


French road safety is being improved (Massimo Santi / Shutterstock.com)



As for alcohol, anyone caught driving with excess in their blood for a second time will have their car confiscated, and only be permitted to get it back after taking a medical test AND once the car is fitted with a breathalyser device preventing it from starting if the driver is over the limit. Anyone with more than 0.8mg of alcohol per ml in their blood will have their car instantly impounded for a period of seven days.

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It goes without saying that talking on a non-hands-free mobile phone whilst driving is against the law, as it is in the UK. Now, the police will have increased powers meaning that they can confiscate a driver’s licence if they find a driver is using a mobile phone with no hands-free facility.

All of these measures seem both sensible and required in France and if you are planning on a road trip through the country, it really is worth taking note of them, giving yourself enough time to enjoy your journey without driving too fast and never risking drinking anything before getting behind the wheel. As long as you do this, driving in France can and should be a real pleasure.

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