Road accidents in France: Five key trends from new report

It includes a rise in the number of deaths from accidents on French motorways

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France has published its annual road accident report for 2022.

The report usually compares the current year with the situation over the previous 12-month period.

But due to the Covid-19 pandemic skewing figures in 2020 and 2021, 2019 was used as the comparison year.

Here are five key trends from the report.

1. Return to pre-pandemic road death numbers

The number of people dying on French roads has returned to its pre-pandemic level, despite a continuing trend in the number of people working from home and the higher prevalence of so-called soft transport, which includes pedestrians, bikes, e-bikes and e-scooters.

Overall road deaths in 2022 increased slightly compared to 2019, the report noted. Last year, 3,267 people died on the roads in France, up 0.7% compared to 2019.

However, this was an 11% increase compared with 2021, when movement restrictions and working-from-home requirements were still in place.

2. More cyclist deaths

Perhaps linked to the increase in soft transport use, the number of cyclists that died increased by 31% to 245, with 58 more cyclists dying in 2022 compared with 2019. Cyclist deaths outside of urban areas increased by 44%, while severe casualties increased by 20%.

Fatalities involving users of personal electric transport (e-bikes and e-scooters) also increased from 10 in 2019 to 35 in 2022, again probably reflecting a higher usage rate.

The number of pedestrians dying returned to pre-pandemic levels in 2022, with five more deaths in 2022 than in 2019.

Read more: 30% rise in cyclist deaths in France and countryside is worst

3. Significant increase in motorway fatalities

Although overall road deaths did not change much, the number of fatalities on French motorways increased by 12%, from 263 people in 2019 to 294 last year.

In all, motorway fatalities represented 9% of all fatalities in 2022, while deaths on urban roads represented 32% and non-urban road deaths decreased slightly to represent 56%.

Read also: What should you do if your vehicle breaks down on a French motorway?

4. Drop in overall injuries

Slightly fewer people were injured in road accidents in 2022, 236,834 in total, down 0.9% compared with 2019. More significantly, the number of people with severe injuries dropped 1.8% to 15,956.

However, once again the number of people injured while using ‘soft transport’ is up, with a 14% increase in severe injuries to cyclists and 446 more people using personal electric transport injured in 2022 than in 2019.

5. Excessive speed and alcohol cause most accidents

Law enforcement agencies found excessive speed and alcohol were responsible for more than half of accidents in 2022 (28% and 23% respectively).

Drugs and distraction were next with 13% each, while illness and refusing to give way were behind 10% and 9%.

Men are both more likely to cause and die in a road accident, with the report noting they represent 78% of people killed in road accidents and 84% of those considered responsible for road deaths.

Worryingly, the trend of young people most likely to die and be injured in road accidents shows no sign of reversing, with 549 dying and 2,739 seriously injured among the 18-24 age group.

Deaths in the 35-44 and 65-74 age groups also increased (+40 and +69) compared to 2019.

However, 53 fewer people in the 25-34 age group died in 2022 compared to 2019.

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