Drivers in France may soon no longer risk losing points from their licence for speeding less than 5km/h over the limit after the interior minister confirmed his support for the idea.
Gérald Darmanin said on February 19 that he wanted to “get rid of taking points away for speed infractions of less than 5km/h” – although drivers will still be fined, as they are now.
The comment came as part of the minister’s wider announcements on harsher punishments for people who drive under the influence of drugs, in the wake of the actor Pierre Palmade tragedy.
Read more: Calls for harder line on drug driving after French actor’s crash
Mr Darmanin said that people who drive while on drugs or over the alcohol limit should face the removal of 12 points from their licence, which would in practice mean its suspension.
SÉCURITÉ ROUTIÈRE :— Gérald DARMANIN (@GDarmanin) February 19, 2023
Je veux supprimer les retraits de points pour les excès de vitesse de moins de 5km/h et ainsi être compréhensif avec ceux qui travaillent.
À l'inverse, je veux retirer le permis de ceux qui conduisent sous drogue/alcool car ils sont des dangers en puissance.
What are the current speeding rules?
Currently in France, if you are caught speeding within 20 km/h of the limit, you will lose a point from your driving licence (French licences have 12 points in total when clean, or six for young drivers).
The fine is €135 if the speed limit on the road is 50km/h or less (reduced to €90 if paid quickly).
The fine is €68 if the speed limit is over 50km/h (€45 if paid quickly).
More severe penalties are issued for drivers who speed at more than 20km/h over the limit.
Driving association 40 Millions d’automobilistes has welcomed Mr Darmanin’s comments. Its head, Pierre Chasseray, said: “It’s very good, we should do it.”
Mr Chasseray also said that the fine should be removed.
He said: “At 5/km, we’re talking about involuntary speeding. Does going at 84km/h on a road that has an 80km/h limit make you a reckless driver? No, it doesn’t.”
He added that “the real issue” is that roads across France differ as to whether their limit is 80km/h or 90km/h, after the government’s forced decrease of many departmental road limits to 80km/h in 2018, which was then reverted back to 90km/h in several areas.
MAP: See which areas of France have reinstated a 90km/h speed limit
However, road safety association la Ligue contre la violence routière issued a statement denouncing the change as a “decision that will have negative consequences on road safety”.
National vice president and president of the Lot, Pierre Lagache, told La Dépêche: “Dropping the points penalty for small speeding excesses is effectively acceptance that average speeds are rising and [therefore] acceptance of more accidents. It sends a bad signal to drivers.
“Attention will drop and we will see more deaths [as a result]. It’s a measure that flies in the face of what we’ve been hearing over the past few months: Don’t p*ss off people in France.”
Figures from La Sécurité routière showed that there were 3,541 deaths on mainland roads in 2022, a rise of 322 since 2021. Figures have remained more or less stable since 2013.
Yet, France signed the 2020 Stockholm Declaration for road safety, during the 3rd Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety, which states that the number of road deaths and serious injuries must drop by half by 2030.
Driving while under the influence: The Palmade case
Comedian and actor Pierre Palmade is currently under house arrest after he caused a head-on crash while driving under the influence of cocaine, in a case that has shocked France. The passengers in the other car were a pregnant woman, her brother-in-law, and his six-year-old son.
The man and son remain in intensive care.
The woman lost her baby after it was delivered at six months by Caesarean section in a failed bid to save its life. Investigations are currently underway to determine if the baby lived, even for a moment, after delivery. If so, Mr Palmade could face charges of involuntary manslaughter.
In light of the crash, campaigners have called for the removal of the word ‘involuntary’ from the charge when used in connection with drug-drivers.
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