I have been writing that there is one simple and inexpensive way to make roads safer for everyone and that is to lower the vehicular speed limits. According to the European Transport Safety Council Switzerland is one of the safest countries in Europe to travel due to enforced speed limits that cap travel on highways at 120 km/h. Those speeds are strictly enforced by automatic cameras, with a rising scale of fines depending on how much over the limit drivers were travelling.
Via Neil Arason, the National Post discusses the new 80 km/h speed limits that have been enforced in France over the last six months. Road deaths have been increasing in France, prompting the federal government to lower speed limits on 400,000 kilometers of “B” class road from 90 km/h to 80 km/h in July 2018. Fifty-five percent of all road deaths occur on these Class “B” roads that have no central divider or guard rail. In 32 percent of the fatalities on these secondary roads the major factor was speed.
As The Guardian observed “The government has compared the 80 km/h limit..to the laws enacted since 1973 requiring the use of seat belts, and the installation of automatic speed radars in 2002. Those laws also drew the ire of thousands of drivers, but contributed to nearly four decades of declines in automobile deaths in France, which reached a historic low of 3,268 in 2013.”
Of course motoring associations and car clubs vented their displeasure, calling the lowered speed limit a cash grab for fines. And it was the so-called “yellow vests” , the long distance drivers that were protesting the green tax on fuel enacted nation wide on January 1st that joined the protest, with sixty percent of France’s speed traps vandalized or demolished.
It appears that in the six months since the implementation of the slower speeds there has been some result~3,250 people died on the roads in 2018, after three years of constantly rising road deaths. Edouard Philippe the prime minister, estimated that 116 lives had been saved, stating “We took a decision that we knew was unpopular. We are proud of the results, of the lives saved.”
“There are 3,500 deaths and 70,000 injured each year – 70,000! After decades of progress, the toll is getting worse. If saving lives means being unpopular, I’m willing to let that be.”