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Road deaths in France up almost 10% in January

The number of people who died on the roads in France jumped by almost 10% in January this year compared to January last year, a contrast to the “historically low” numbers seen in 2019.

Figures published on Wednesday February 19 by road safety agency la Sécurité Routière show that 260 people died in road accidents in mainland France in 2020 compared to 237 in January last year - a jump of 9.7%.

The rise primarily affected young people aged 18-24, as well as scooter drivers, bike riders, and car drivers. The death rate among scooter drivers was stable, and it dropped among pedestrians.

The figures contrast with last year’s trend, which saw a “historically low” number of road deaths, after four consecutive years of a rise, from 2014 to 2018.

In 2019, 3,239 people died on the roads in mainland France, nine fewer than in 2018 - a drop of 0.3%.

At the time, the government said that this was linked to the introduction of the 80kph speed limit - dropping from 90kph, in July 2018 - on departmental roads.

But this measure was very unpopular in some areas, and later in 2019, the government conceded by allowing local authorities to change the limit back to 90kph on a case-by-case basis.

The Haute-Marne (Grand Est) became the first department to announce it would revert to the old limit.

In January this year, president of the departmental council Nicolas Lacroix said: “Here, your car is your life. If you lose your licence, you risk losing your job [too]. In this department, we did not see an improvement in accident rates since the drop to 80kph.”

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