Speed limits on more than one million kilometres of road will be cut from 90kph to 80kph on July 1 but while many signs have not yet been changed drivers still face fines as radars have been updated and will send fines no matter what the sign says.
Motorists in Seine-et-Marne, Tarn-et-Garonne, Eure, Doubs and Vendée need to be aware as they have the most fixed radars affected, ranging from 40 in Vendée to 47 in Seine-et-Marne.
Dordogne, Manche, Aveyron, Charente-Maritime and Ille-et-Vilaine have the most roads changing to the new limit, with 10,971km in Dordogne down to 8,561km in Ille-et-Vilaine.
The changes aim to reduce the road toll and save 400 lives on roads with no central divider.
More than 1,870 fixed radars have been recalibrated – about half the total – but with 20,000 signs to be changed it is far from certain that all will be done.
The government says they should be masked if wrong but are only there as a reminder as the ‘default’ limit is now 80kph.
Local councils are supposed to change signs and be repaid by the government but, with many senators and departments challenging the law, Julien Vick, director of roadsign makers’ federation Syndicat des Equipements de la Route said councils “had been slow in ordering”.
In Limousin, Corrèze, Creuze and Haute-Vienne departments have dragged their heels with Creuse saying it will not change any signs as a protest against the limit, which it said would “contribute to our isolation”.
GPS firm TomTom carried out checks for Autoplus magazine and found that 466,000km of main road would switch to the 80kph limit along with 571,000 of smaller local roads.
With rural areas most affected it reinforced claims there was no thought of the countryside as Paris has no 80kph roads and just 13km in Hauts-de-Seine, 11km in Seine-Saint-Denis and 6km in Val-de-Marne.
Autoplus says the change will boost fines revenue by €335m but this will be added to the €1.01billion taken in fines from fixed radars in 2017... as part of total road fines of €1.97bn.
Fears of sky-high costs have been calmed as the national ‘default’ speed limit is indicated by the black diagonal on white sign, not the 90kph sign which is often seen as a reminder at autoroute or expressway exits.
This means a €6-12m bill with each panel costing €80 plus fitting. Half of existing signs were near the end of their working lives, so were due to be replaced.
Mr Vick said the 20,000 figure was deceptive as numbers varied – Brittany, for example, has just 700. He added that a two-man team could fit 10 signs a day.
Calls by senators for the limits to be introduced only on dangerous roads were rejected by the government which said a national limit was simpler; although the measure is to be reviewed in two years’ time.
Similarly, calls to retain 90kph on long straight roads with clear visibility were met with the results of a safety study that showed that 20% of them had 55% of road deaths.