MAP: Where are drivers most likely to have an accident in France?

Where are the most dangerous places to drive in France? We take a look at the data

Over 3,000 people died on French roads in 2022
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Some 3,267 people were killed on roads in mainland France in 2022 according to official data from the French road safety observatory, ONISR (we have used 2022 data as only provisional statistics are available for 2023) – but where are the most dangerous departments?

The department with the most road deaths was France’s third most populated, Bouches-du-Rhône, with 117 fatal accidents, 14% more than in 2019, the last year not affected by pandemic-related lockdowns and working from home.

It is followed by Nord with 97 road deaths, a 7% rise compared to 2019.

The department with the fewest road deaths was Territoire de Belfort, the fourth least populated department, with five, a 44% drop compared to 2019.

Types of road death

According to official data from the ONISR the number of road deaths per transport type were:

  • Cars – 1,565 people totalling 48% of all road deaths in France, a 3.5% drop compared to 2019.
  • Motorbikes and mopeds – 594 motorcyclists and 124 moped riders were killed, making up 22% of all road deaths. The number of deaths was down by 3% and 7% respectively compared to 2019.
  • Pedestrians – 488 people, 1% more than in 2019. This makes walking the third most deadly mode of travel along France’s roads, accounting for almost 15% of deaths.
  • Bikes – 245 cyclists were killed on France’s roads in 2022. An increase in the popularity of cycling since the pandemic meant cyclist road deaths rose by 31% between 2019 and 2022 according to ONISR.
  • Commercial and heavy goods vehicles – 104 people died in commercial vehicle crashes and 48 in heavy goods vehicles, up 6% and 33% respectively.

The rest of the total occurred on other modes of transport such as scooters.

Most dangerous roads in France

The RCEA, or R79, a 130km stretch of road linking Moulins in the Allier to Mâcon in the Saône-et-Loire, has the dubious honour of being nicknamed the “road of death”.

The dual carriageway is used by almost double the average number of lorries on French roads, according to Radio France, which contributes to its dangerous reputation.

In a bid to make the road safer, work has been ongoing for the past 10 years to double its size and convert it into a motorway. Construction is due to be completed by 2025.

How does France compare to its EU neighbours?

There were 46 road deaths per million inhabitants in France in 2022, compared to 31 in Ireland, 36 in Spain and 53 in Italy, according to the European Commission.

The French total is almost double that in the UK, which recorded 24 road deaths per million people according to the Department of Transport.

Looking ahead

While only provisional data has been released for 2023, it estimates 3,170 people were killed on roads in mainland France last year, which would mark a 3% reduction on 2022 figures. Definitive data will be published in May 2024.

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