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Come to France but watch your speed!

Updated: Nov 18, 2020

Two years ago, the French government decided to reduce the speed limit on all the two-lane roads in France, without a central reservation, from 90 km/hr to 80 km/hr. However since the resulting road death figures were not lowered as dramatically as was hoped for, with less than half the total reduction in deaths that the government predicted, the government has allowed departments to return roads to the 90 km/hr limit if they choose. So far this year 19 departments have already returned some of their roads to 90 km/hr, these are : Corrèze, Cantal, Charente, Cher, Loir-et-Cher, Haute-Loire, Indre, Maine-et -Loire, Haute-Marne, Orne, Hautes-Pyrénées, Bas-Rhin, Sarthe, Deux-Sèvres, Hérault, Loiret, Jura , Lozère and Seine-et-Marne, whilst Aveyron & Vienne are changing later this year.

Eventually 48 departments in all are due to change their speed limits but as usual in France the law is confusing & many of these departments are only converting a proportion of their routes back to a 90 limit. For example in the Indre department only 220 kms have been returned to a 90 km/ hr limit and in Bas-Rhin in Alsace, only 54 kms now have a 90 km/ hr limit. If that is not confusing enough to foreign drivers, any roads in these departments that are designated as Route Nationale (RN) are controlled by the regional councils & these will all stay at 80 km/hr. In total only 15,000 kms of French roads have been returned to the 90 kph limit.

So the advice is to stay vigilant & keep your eyes on the road signs or failing that, drive everywhere at 80 km/ hr as before!

The government has recently calculated that the 80kph limit has so far saved 349 lives since it was introduced in June, 2018 & the reduction in speed adds only 5 second per kilometre to journeys in rural areas - thus a 60 km journey only takes 5 minute longer at 80 kph.

December update:

The Allier department in the Auvergne- Rhone Alpes region is the latest department in

France to return its secondary roads back to a 90km/ hour speed limit from the previous 80km/ hour limit imposed 2 years ago. Work is due to to start this month (December) in replacing the road signs with the new limit, but to make matters confusing for motorists (especially foreign ones) however, the main ‘Routes Nationales’ will still remain at 80km/hour (as stated above).

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