Drivers warned of increased threat of fines as French government lowers speed limits on 250,000 miles of roads with high death counts
- Speed limits on two-lane roads cut from 90kmh (56mph) to 80khm (50mph)
- There are currently around 250,000 miles of French roads of this type
- New laws will be enforced from 1 July after an alarming rise in road casualties
- Almost 3,500 people died on French routes in 2016 - 55% on this road type
- That compares to 1,792 victims on all UK routes during the same 12 months
- On the spot fines if caught speeding in France can amount to €750 (£650)
Lowered limits: From 1 July 2018, speed limits on two-lane highways not separated by a guardrail will be reduced from 90kmh to 80
The French government is lowering speed limits on all two-lane highways from 90 kilometres an hour (56mph) to 80kmh (50mph) after an alarming rise in road deaths in the last three years.
The limit reduction, which will be introduced from July 1, means all motorists heading over the channel for a summer getaway need to be extra vigilant of their speed to avoid receiving a fine of up to €750 (£650).
The move came after road deaths in the country soared to nearly 3,500 in 2016, with 55 per cent of those - accounting for 1,911 victims - taking place on two-lane routes with no separating guardrail that make up around 250,000 miles of the the country's road network.
It means that almost twice as many individuals are killed on routes in France than in the UK (1,792) - and more people died in 2016 on two-lane French roads than all highway types in Britain.
Of the fatalities on the secondary French roads in 2016, 32 per cent were caused by 'excessive or inappropriate' speed, the figures showed.
In a bid to reduce the number of victims, the government said a 10kmh speed reduction on these roads would save between 350 and 500 lives a year.
Speaking after a meeting with the French road safety council, prime minister Edouard Philippe said on Tuesday: 'Unsafe roads are not inevitable.
'Lowering speeds reduces the number of accidents, as well as the severity of these accidents.'
Casualties on French roads have been rising since 2014, after the figures dropped to a historic low of 3,268 deaths in 2013.
And the recent increases look set to continue into 2017, where the toll was up 0.9 per cent in the first 11 months of the year.
The French government said a 10kmh speed reduction to 80mph on 250,000 miles of secondary roads would save between 350 and 500 lives a year
Speaking on Tuesday, French prime minister Edouard Philippe (centre) said: 'Unsafe roads are not inevitable'
According to the official statistics, some 105 people were killed on roads during the Christmas holiday period of 2016, suggesting that last year's casualty stats will cement a fourth successive year of rising victim numbers.
RAC European driving spokesman Simon Williams said that action needed to be taken, though the changes won't be popular among native motorists who might see the changes as cash cows for the government.
'How effective this will be very much depends on the level of compliance from motorists and, naturally, the level of police enforcement,' he said.
'There are, of course, accusations from French motoring groups that this is not about road safety at all, but about raising extra money from motorists through fines.'
UK drivers clocked over the limit on these roads can face on-to-spot fines of up to €750 (£650). Under new EU rules introduced last year, British motorists can also be pursued for unpaid fines even once they've returned home
Some 1,911 people died on these this type of road in France last year, which make up around 250,000 of the entire highway network
On the spot fines for speeding in France can reach as much as €750 (£650), and as of last year UK drivers caught by speed cameras can be traced home and issued with unpaid penalties.
EU governments now have access to vehicle ownership records held by other countries, which are then used to prosecute offences carried out in foreign-registered cars.
However, the 'one-way' rule prevents British police from being able to pursue European motorists captured exceeding the limit by cameras in the UK.
'British drivers visiting France making longer journeys are unlikely to experience too much impact as the majority of those miles will probably be driven on bigger, faster roads,' Williams added.
'British drivers will, however, clearly have to get used to driving 10mph slower on A and B roads than they would at home otherwise their visits may prove expensive.
'Arguably, holidaymakers should not be that affected by slower journeys as they should not be in as much of a rush as locals who may well have to get used to slightly longer journey times,' he said.
A recent trial in the UK to kerb accident rates by reducing speed limits from 30mph to 20mph in built up areas backfired, according to figures released in December.
Bath and North East Somerset Council spent £871,000 converting the zones only for the stats to show that the rate of people killed or seriously injured went up in seven out of the 13 areas in the 12 months after they were installed.
The rise was blamed on pedestrians being 'less diligent' when crossing the roads.
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