Road Safety tackles the return to 90 km / h in its own way

The National Interministerial Road Safety Observatory (ONISR) has just unveiled a provisional report on road accidents for 2021 (the final report will not be known until the spring). 2,947 people lost their lives on the French network, a decrease of 9% compared to 2019 (2020 being a special year with the confinements).

In this report, a passage caught our attention. The one achieved by the road type. ONISR indicates that the drop in mortality is less marked in towns and on motorways than on other roads. Understand by this on the national and especially on the secondary roads… where the speed had been lowered to 80 km/h in July 2018. An already subtle way of directing us to the fact that this reduction in the speed limit seems to be bearing fruit.

Stable mortality in the departments at 90 km / h but…

But what follows is less subtle. L’HONNISSE offers a separate assessment between the departments which have remained at 80 km / h and those which have reinstated on all or part of their territory the 90 km / h. This has indeed been possible since the beginning of 2019, with the mobility law. To calm the revolt of motorists and local elected officials, who had not digested a measure imposed from Paris, the departmental councils can return to 90 km / h. A ministerial report published at the end of 2021 showed that this return to 90 km / h was acclaimed by the most rural departments. A quarantine reinstated the 90. But a large majority did so on structuring axes, and not the entire territory.

The ONISR indicates that in the 38 departments which emerged from the 90 km/h signs, there were 655 killed on the roads outside built-up areas and off motorways. Which is “a stable balance sheet compared to 2019”, the year in which the measure came into force. We can think that this stable result proves that there is no problem in raising the maximum authorized speed (VMA). But Road Safety indicates that in the 57 departments which have not modified the VMA, there has been a 14.5% drop in the number of road deaths outside agglomerations and motorways.

Still no precise analysis by limitation and cause of accidents

If the ONISR sticks to the figures without commenting on them, the way in which they are indicated in the press release cannot be insignificant. Indirectly, Road Safety seems to make it clear that staying at 80 km/h is the best solution, it causes road fatalities to plunge, especially since elsewhere, stability can be called into question by less traffic in 2021 ( with normal circulation, it could have increased). This is in addition to its recommendations before reinstating the 90 km / h, which sound like constraints to discourage the departments and which already felt the disapproval of the derogation.

Of course, Road Safety remains faithful to its principle of biased analysis of results, since the introduction of 80 km/h, since these statistics outside built-up areas and motorways include a whole host of limitations, from 70 to 110 km/h, and in no way makes a real distinction between sections at 80 km/h and those ascending at 90 km/h. And there is no analysis of the causes of fatal accidents. The speed factor is therefore not isolated. So take a closer look at the effects around 80/90 km/h, we dream.

This of course becomes complicated and difficult. But on the side of Road Safety, it is more practical to be content with the most global figure, which is not false, therefore not contestable… but is not the one that is needed.

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