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80kph speed limit set to be tested

Drivers’ groups protest at minister’s plan for experiment in 10 departments to see if cutting limit will save lives

ROADS in around 10 departments could see speeds reduced to 80kph from the national 90kph limit to test whether a speed reduction will cut the motoring death toll.

The plan was confirmed by Interior Minister Manuel Valls in an interview on BFM TV where he said he wanted to tighten up road safety on the “secondary roads network”.

Road deaths fell a record 11% in 2013 compared to 2012 to reach a historic low of 3,250 people killed.

Mr Valls said that the Conseil National de la Sécurité Routière road safety committee has a meeting soon to discuss cutting the limit and if they supported it then he would follow their advice.

He said: “We need to move progressively. We need to change all the signs – which will be expensive, but if it brings results we need to follow it up.”

A previous expert committee had said that such a move nationwide would cut 450 deaths.

An internet petition against the move by the Ligue des Conducteurs has already drawn more than one million signatures.

Pierre Chasseray, of drivers’ group 40 Millions d'Automobilistes, said they were “fundamentally opposed to this experiment” especially when the roads death toll was falling, due in part Mr Valls had said was changes in drivers’ behaviour.

“Punishing drivers when the results are good is a total nonsense.”

He asked where it would all stop “at 70kph, 60kph?” and pointed to other European countries with far better safety records and said it was a question of adapting speed to the circumstances.

Last week the speed limit on the Péripherique in Paris was cut from 80kph to 70kph to reduce pollution.

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