Speed limit to be cut on French roads

Single carriageway road in France
The speed limit on single carriageway roads such as this in France is expected to be cut from 90km/h to 80km/h in 2018.

Drivers of motorhomes in France should be aware that the speed limit on some roads in France is expected to be cut from 90km/h (56mph) to 80km/h (50mph) this year.

From what I understand of this newspaper article (in French) the lower speed limits will apply to two-way secondary roads with no central reservation. This appears to mean all single carriageway roads.

The changes appear to apply to both national (N) and departmental (D) roads. That’s broadly equivalent to A and B roads in the UK.

Apparently, French roads clocked up a casualty toll of 3,500 dead and 70,000 wounded last year. Government statistics show that two-thirds of these take place on the kind of two-way single carriageway road to which the new 80km/h speed limit will apply.

Speaking from personal experience in Norway, driving at 80km/h all day feels slow but is peaceful and relaxing — and does wonders for fuel consumption. The record in our old Transit was 42mpg on one particularly long and steady day!

How effective the new speed limit is at reducing casualties is of course down to driver compliance and police enforcement. Accusations are flying around that it’s just a cash-generating wheeze, but of course no one has to speed.

Drivers in a hurry should probably continue to use the autoroutes. Happily, there’s no suggestion that the 130km/h fair weather speed limit on these wonderful roads will be cut. I know that some people don’t like paying tolls, but if you’ve only got two weeks and you want to get somewhere quickly, these are among the best and fastest roads in the world, in my experience.

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