The possibility of reducing French motorway speed limits from 130km/h to 110km/h has surfaced once again in recent weeks, with several famous French people signing an open letter published in Libération calling for action on the subject.
An Ifop survey carried out in July also suggested that 63% of people would be in favour of the change to save fuel.
Proponents of the change cite the fact that drivers can save ‘up to 20-25% on fuel’ if they limit their speed to 110km/h, and will also reduce their vehicle’s emissions.
We asked Connexion readers what they think about the issue, and about half of those who responded were in favour and half opposed the idea.
We take a look at some of the arguments for and against.
‘Makes overtaking more difficult and dangerous’
Colin Innes, a retired solicitor who lives in Corrèze, said: “To lower the limit would make overtaking HGVs more difficult and dangerous and increase congestion in general because of the reduction in speed.”
He added that it would also worsen problems relating to tiredness at the wheel “because of the increased time driving”.
‘I understand the positive impact on emissions’
Stephen Taylor, a retiree who lives in Creuse, said: “I understand the positive impact on emissions and support that.
“However, I feel 120km/h is more appropriate; 110 is a little slow, especially when travelling long distances on empty motorways.”
‘A silly move’
Roger Mew, who has lived in Loire-Atlantique for 22 years (and who visited for 28 years before that), said: “To reduce the limit to 110km/h is a silly move.
“I have a Peugeot Partner 2014 diesel and the vehicle is actually more economical at the higher speed if I can maintain a constant speed. If I am slower then sensibly I have to go down into fourth gear to maintain a speed up and down hills.”
“Why make it so that vehicles have to drive at an uneconomical speed that will actually cause more pollution, not less? They discovered that at Rennes on the circular: when they dropped the limit, pollution and congestion went up. They returned the limit to 90.
“It’s not the speed that kills, it is the person that is driving.”
‘Moderate acceleration saves fuel’
Krys Pochin, who lives in a village near Die (Drôme) with his French partner, said that he is in favour of lowering motorway speed limits because: “On ordinary roads any journey less than 200km takes about the same time, give or take 10 minutes I’d say, whatever the speed limits.
“Moderate acceleration in a vehicle employing a suck-squeeze-bang-blow engine will save fuel and therefore cash and harmful emissions.
“Electric car batteries will run flat faster if you accelerate hard and have to brake more.
“On motorways, your heart rate and blood pressure increase with speed, which is bad for you.
“Conclusion: save your health and self and other people, save money, save the planet by belching less pollution into its air.”
Lyn Huntington, a retiree who lives in Alpes-Maritimes also cited “reducing pollution” and “safety” as key motivations for lowering the speed limit on motorways.
Duncan Andrews, a retiree who lives in Blaye – to the north of Bordeaux – and has been in France for the past 20 years, said: “My reaction is absolutely not.
“The difference in speed will make no difference to the long-term effect on the environment.
“The government and the greens should be pursuing green and renewable fuel sources like solar, tide and electricity – with far more working charging points than there are at present.
‘Should be allowed to choose’
Bob, a retired project manager living in Mayenne, said: “Keep it at 130km/h.
“The 130kph is generally on the péage [toll] motorways, so if you choose to pay to go on them then you should be allowed to go at 130 and choose whether you want to be slightly more economical at a slower speed.
“I use the péage quite often and the only reason to pay more to drive is that it saves me considerable time at 130km/h.
“If saving on fuel is the reason to drive slower then it is up to the individual to decide. If you are forcing people to drive slower to use less fuel then that penalises people that have chosen and invested in a more fuel-efficient car in the first place.
Bob added that the idea of reducing the speed limit “smacks of a nanny state”.
‘I am in favour’
Mark Sutton, a drilling rig worker who has a property on the Normandy-Brittany border, said: “I am in favour of the reduction.
“On the one hand you have safety, which is improved at lower speeds, especially reducing the difference between the fastest and slowest vehicles, but on the other hand you have ‘freedom’ (and I’m quite sure the 25 year old me would hate the 60 year old me for being in favour of lower limits!)
“But the deciding factor has to be the ecological issue: at 130km/h a car is using in the region of 30% more fuel to cover the same distance as if it was doing 90km/h.
“Even electric vehicles still need to get their energy from somewhere, and the same rules apply.
“However, it would be very interesting to know how many of the 63% in the survey are actually regular motorway users.
“It is very easy to vote for the banning of something that you yourself do not use!”