‘New French speeding rule encourages aggressive drivers’

The change has enabled reckless motorists to drive even more wildly without fear of losing points, argues columnist Samantha David

‘Do they believe driving a few kilometres too fast is not the problem? Personally, I think aggressive driving in France is the much bigger problem.’
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I arrived back from the shops all of a quiver because some awful driver tried to overtake me on a corner, just as a lorry was coming the other way.

A breathless moment.

Worse, having fallen back into line behind me, the idiot then hooted and flashed their headlights at me all the way to the dual carriageway, where they finally roared past and disappeared. Not nice.

Why do people do it? I was driving at the speed limit, in a French-registered right-hand drive car, so it was not irritation at having foreigners cluttering up the roads.

Nor had I pulled out in front of them or committed any other motoring faux pas that could have made them mad.

I confess that I might not always respect the speed limit. Half the time, I do not even know whether it is 80 or 90 km/h, because that can change several times on the same stretch of road.

So I am not entirely law-abiding either, but I do not flash people for sticking to the speed limit, or hoot, or try to force them off the road.

France’s shocking fatal road accident toll

Apart from being rude, it is just so dangerous.

Official figures show that in 2023 a shocking 3,170 people died from road accidents – drivers, riders and pedestrians combined – in France.

For comparison, there were 1,633 such fatalities in the UK in the 12 months ending June 2023 (latest figures available).

Since January, the government has stopped taking points off your driving licence for speeding infractions where the driver is going less than 5km/h over the limit.

Do they believe driving a few kilometres too fast is not the problem? Personally, I think aggressive driving in France is the much bigger problem.

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Regional differences

Last summer, attempting to navigate the motorway between Nîmes and Montpellier in rush hour was a heart-stopping nightmare.

People were overtaking in all four lanes, hooting and flashing their headlights, pulling in front of each other, swerving from one lane to another without indicating, and I think we were the only ones sticking to the speed limit.

Perhaps it is a southern thing. The traffic is very sedate on the ring road around Limoges, which is generously decorated with radars, speed traps and CCTV, and the same goes for the ring road around Grenoble and even the périf around Paris. Who knows?

‘A way to boost President Macron’s popularity’

Obviously, I am all for my points no longer being endangered by a minor speeding offence. However, I wonder if President Macron realises it could be sending the wrong message to road-rage drivers.

After all, our dear president does not drive. He is sedately chauffeured around the boulevards of Paris in a limo without the faintest clue how people motor on the road between our local InterMarché and the dual carriageway.

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This new ‘no-losing points’ thing probably seems like a good idea to him, a cheap way of boosting his popularity.

I bet he has not the faintest clue that it has just encouraged the nutters to think that, with extra points to spare, they can now afford to drive even more wildly – purely for the thrill

of overtaking all other drivers on the road, regardless of the danger.

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