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Why road accident reduction in France is not entirely good news

Official figures published this week showed number of road accidents went down by nearly 20% between 2010 and 2019, but that European target was still way off

The advent of electric scooters has changed the way some of us travel Pic: flydragon / Shutterstock

Road accidents in mainland France decreased by 18.7% between 2010 and 2019, down from 67,288 to 56,016. Road deaths followed suit, down 16.8% from 3,992 in 2010 to 3,244 in 2019, a report published this week by the road safety authority Sécurité Routière reveals.

Some say the decrease can be explained by the numerous motorway checks now carried out by both police and gendarmes, as well as the prevention measures in place and an increase in the number of automatic speed cameras.

“These figures are to be welcomed but we should not be too proud of or satisfied with them”, Anne Lavaud, general manager at the road safety group l’Association Prévention Routière (APR) told FranceInfo.

Europe committed itself a few years back to achieving 50% fewer road deaths, with the objective for France of 2000 deaths in 2020. 

“As you can see, we are far from achieving this. Even if we include an atypical 2020, we get 36% less road deaths, so we’re not there”, she added.

While the greatest improvement in the mortality rate concerned those aged under 18 (down 47%) and those in the 18-24 year old age bracket (down 34%), the road safety authority said the latter were still considered the most at risk on the road. 

The past decade has seen changes to the way that people travel, with an increase in deaths among cyclists and those on electric scooters linked to an increase in users.

An ageing population has also led to an increase in the mortality rate among older road users, with statistics showing this went up by 13% between 2010 and 2019 among the over 55s.

In particular, the mortality rate was up 17% for the 55-64 age group and 20% for the 65-74 age group.

“Our road risk prevention policies must be adapted to these developments” Ms Lavaud concluded.

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