Autoroute deaths fall by a quarter

Fatigue and falling asleep at the wheel are blamed for one in three deaths

23 July 2013

ROAD deaths on French autoroutes fell by more than a quarter in 2012 – with fatigue and falling asleep at the wheel being blamed for one in three deaths.

The figures, revealed in a study by motorway umbrella group Association des Sociétés Françaises d'Autoroutes (ASFA), also showed that 72% of drivers stuck to the speed limits – with excess speed being involved in just 15.7% of fatal accidents.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls has just revealed plans to cut speed limits on French roads - Speed limits may be cut by 10kph – and ASFA said drivers’ behaviour had improved in the past 15 years. It said high-speed accidents had halved – and 60% of these happened at night.

ASFA said road fatalities fell 26.3% to 143 deaths – against a national total of 3,645 in 2012.

It also pointed out that 25% of deaths involved people not wearing seatbelts.

The major cause of road fatalities on the autoroutes is falling asleep at the wheel, involved in 29.1% of road deaths – and particularly affecting the under-35s, who felt they were more resilient.

One in five fatalities was drink-related.

ASFA said that 40% of fatal accidents were due to lack of concentration and it said drivers, especially those heading on holiday and driving long distances, should take a break at least every two hours.

July is the worst month of the year for fatalities, accounting for one in 10 road deaths, and the worst times of day are between 5.00 and 8.00 and between 14.00 and 16.00.

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