Departmental roads in the Loiret department (Centre-Val de Loire region) in France are the latest to revert back to the 90km/h speed limit after the limit dropped to 80km/h in 2018.
There are now 45 departments in mainland France – of the 96 total – which have reverted to the old speed.
In Loiret in particular, six department routes were chosen to revert back from Monday, January 23.
Frédéric Legay, departmental road manager, told FranceInfo: “We are going to put up almost 200 signs, at the end of each built-up area, and at the end of each 70 [speed limit] zone.”
Hervé Gaurat, vice-president of the Loiret departmental council in charge of transport and movement in the area, said that the speed limit of departmental roads had little correlation with road safety.
He said: “Most accidents, more than 98%, on departmental roads, are due to behaviour, like drug use, alcohol, or falling asleep.”
In contrast, road authority la Sécurité Routière states that rising speed limits from 80km/h to 90km/h contributed to 74 extra deaths in 2021, a rise of 13%. In 2020, the French government said that the lower limit had saved 349 lives over 20 months.
The government dropped the speed limit on departmental roads (major roads without separation barriers) to 80km/h from 90km/h in 2018. It said the change was a bid to improve road safety.
However, the move was poorly received by many department authorities and drivers, who said that the limit would have no effect on safety, and would simply frustrate drivers in rural areas.