On 1st July the blanket speed limit on all NON dual carriageway roads was lowered from 90 to 80kph (solo cars, motorcycles and M.H’s etc under 3500kg.
I have Just spent a couple of days with my ex crew mate from our traffic cop days at his holiday home in France. Due to his previous life he keeps a pretty careful eye on the French motoring legislation (and he speaks pretty fluent French) so.....
Firstly Please near in mind the difference between a “single carriageway” and a “dual carriageway” a single CARRIAGEWAY road can have any number of “lanes” two in one direction or one in the other or two in each direction BUT (and here’s the important bit) a “dual” carriageway can have one or more LANES in each direction BUT ALWAYS has some form of PHYSICAL barrier separating opposing lines of traffic (Armco barrier, a strip of land, hedges etc) No separation means it’s a single carriageway (even if it has four lanes) Pay attention at the back, there will be a test at the end of this!
So back to the detail.......
All is NOT as clear cut as you would like to think, on single carriageway two lane roads (one lane in each direction) the blanket limit is 80kph. HOWEVER............(Its France, it’s compulsorary to have a “However”
If you are on a SINGLE carriageway road that has THREE lanes, (one lane in your direction and two lanes opposing you) AND the two directions are separated by a SOLID white line then the single lane is still 80kph but the TWO lane side is 90Kph!!
Apparently the “thinking??” behind this is it’s OK to overtake on the two lane section at 90Kph because you will not be doing it in the face of oncoming traffic!
I have just driven up this morning (6th July) from near La Rochelle to Saumur on N &D roads. One section of about 50miles was single cattiageway but alternated frequently between one lane and two lanes in my direction of travel. At the start of each 2 lane (please note the word LANE) section there was the usual blue square sign with two white arrows pointing up and one pointing down (to identify “my” direction then had two lanes) EVERY ONE of those signs had a brand new 90Kph speed limit sign directly above it AND where it reverted back to a single lane another blue and white sign showing the end of two lanes and reverting to one lane was a brand new 80kph sign atop of it! So the info relayed by my pal would appear correct. Talk about a ******* muddle!!
Apparently this lower speed limit is “experimental” for two years. It has been brought in by the French Prime Minister as his “Pet” project. The President and the motoring organisations are all against it but apparently the PM is able to (and has) over-ruled them. Its blindingly obvious that the PM doesn’t have much of a clue as to what the impact of this measure will do. Imagine you need to cover 360k. At 90Kph that will (hypothetically) take 4 hrs? At 80 kph it will take (a fraction under) 4.5 hrs. So lots more traffic actually “on” the road system . Also my suspicion is that the death rate will actually INCREASE because SOME will obey the new limit, others will see the “observers” as holding them up, get frustrated, and take more risks to overtake, thus causing more, not less crashes.
So what you now have are French roads where the speed limit in one direction is HIGHER THAN the limit in the other direction, madness or what??
The French, dont you just love ‘em?