The list of departments that go back to 90 km / h on all or part of their network continues to grow, with now 46 departments that have made a step back. But why has this measure taken by the government of Edouard Philippe turned sour and some departments are sulking at 80 km/h?
Source: D. Chauveau
80, 90, then another 80 km/h, had to go to 70, then, a few hundred meters further on, go back to 80… or 90 km/h? We have probably all experienced this situation in recent years with the lowering of the maximum speed on the secondary network to 80 km/h instead of 90 km/h.
But almost five years after the passage to 80 km / h, it is still the imbroglio, and it happens, on certain portions, not to know at what speed you can drive.
List of departments limited to 90 km/h
Here is the list of the 46 departments are back at 90 km / h instead of 80 km / h: Ardèche, Aube, Aveyron, Bas-Rhin, Calvados, Cantal, Charente, Charente-Maritime, Cher, Corrèze, Côte-d’Or , Creuse, Deux-Sèvres, Dordogne, Eure-et-Loir, Gers, Haute-Loire, Haute-Marne, Haute-Saône, Haute-Vienne, Hautes-Alpes, Hautes-Pyrénées, Haut-Rhin, Hérault, Indre, Indre -et-Loire, Isère, Jura, Loir-et-Cher, Loiret, Lozère, Maine-et-Loire, Marne, Mayenne, Meuse, Morbihan, Orne, Puy-de-Dôme, Saône-et-Loire, Sarthe, Seine -et-Marne, Tarn, Var, Vienne, Vosges, Yonne.
Back in 2018
To understand how we arrived at such a mess, we have to go back five years, at the beginning of 2018, when the government officially adopted, at the end of the Interministerial Road Safety Council, the lowering of the speed limit from 90 to 80 km/h on secondary roads.
Never for 45 years and operation Mazamet (the population of the town of Mazamet, in the Tarn, had laid down on the ground to symbolize the 16,545 people killed on the roads at the time), the government had bet on reducing speed to reduce the number of road deaths.
Operation Mazamet in 1973
The latest speed reductions concerned very specific sectors, such as the Paris ring road for example, where the reduction from 80 to 70 km/h was implemented to reduce noise and air pollution above all. In this regard, the speed could also soon be lowered again, since there is talk of a 50 km/h limit now on this road circle surrounding Paris.
On Tuesday January 9, 2018, therefore, Edouard Philippe, who was still Emmanuel Macron’s Prime Minister, announced the reduction in speed from 90 to 80 km / h on secondary axes. This measure is applied from July 1, 2018.
These are in total 400,000 kilometers of two-way roads, two-lane without divider, which are affected, while dual carriageways are not affected. This decision to reduce the speed had already been mentioned by the former Minister of the Interior, Bernard Cazeneuve, even if the latter had refused to adopt it and was simply content to launch an experiment.
At the time, several figures were put forward by the Prime Minister to highlight this decision to reduce speed:
Since 2012, the average speed on secondary roads has increased by 4 km/h At 90 km/h, it takes 70 meters to brake. At 80 km/h, the distance decreases to 57 meters. At 80 km/h, we lose three minutes a day on a 40 kilometer journey At 80 km/h, we save an average of one life per day, a total of between 350 and 400 lives per year
An unpopular measure
The change from 90 to 80 km/h on the secondary network has obviously caused a lot of talk, and many oppositions, through several social movements (and in particular the Yellow Vests), have made the government back down.
In the meantime, the coronavirus and confinements have been there, thus disturbing the reading of the statistics brandished by Road Safety to praise the effects of this reduction in speed. Nevertheless, in the first 18 months after the implementation of the 80 km/h (before the health crisis), the figures showed that the 80 km/h allowed a 12% reduction in mortality on the roads concerned compared to the rest of the network according to figures from ONISR (National Interministerial Road Safety Observatory).
Nevertheless, despite this drop over this period, the Court of Auditors’ report carried out in 2021 shows that the figures are stagnating after “half a century of spectacular efficiency”, even after the introduction of 80 km/h, the Court of Auditors calls for a change of tune by investing more in awareness and infrastructure.
It was enough for many departmental executives to see it as a way to challenge the government, which within the framework of the Mobility Orientation Law, had authorized them to reconsider the measure at the end of a trial period.
How much did it cost ?
Difficult to know how much the passage from 90 to 80 km/h cost in 2018 in France. The interministerial delegate for road safety (DISR), Emmanuel Barbe, had mentioned a sum between 5 and 10 million euros for the whole of France.
The price of a panel is between 200 and 250 euros, charges included (cost of transport, labor of at least two people, etc.), for departments such as Nord and Pas-de-Calais, this represents about 430 panels to change, therefore an envelope of at least 86,000 euros. The State had undertaken to bear the cost of this measure by means of a reimbursement after the works.
With the return to 90 km/h, it will now be up to the departments to pay. And there will be strong disparities, since everything will depend on the network chosen by the departments, as well as the number of kilometers of roads concerned.
An 80 sign cannot always simply be replaced by a 90 sign. It is also necessary to signal each speed on each section, in particular at intersections. For example, if an 80 road intersects with a 90 road, this results in several signs compared to none when all the networks were at 80 or 90.
But why not bring out the “old” panels? simply because that a panel has a limited lifespan. The retro-reflective parts deteriorate over time. Depending on the category, a panel has a lifespan of 7 to 12 years, and it should not be stored haphazardly. So, most of the 90 panels are going to have to be remanufactured.
What are the departments to be ironed at 90 km / h?
After partially returning to its measure, around thirty departments had announced a return to 90 km / h almost immediately. At the start of 2023, the list of departments that are reinstalling the 90 km/h signs continues to grow, bringing the number to 46 now.
There are nevertheless certain subtleties, because departments have also reviewed certain elements on a case-by-case basis, depending on the area, whether it is accident-prone or not. For example, since August 1, 2022, Puy-de-Dôme has decided to reinstate 90 km/h on some of their departmental roads, but the departmental council has also decided to establish a maximum speed of 70 km/h on 330 so-called “at risk” sections.
So even in the departments which have gone back to 90 km / h, you have to pay attention to the signs, because certain portions may be more limited as precisely noted by the Drivers’ Defense League.
This return to 90 km/h does not necessarily seem to bother the government today, which has probably moved on. On the other hand, on the road safety side, this backtracking is bad news.
“The speeds practiced on the roads whose maximum authorized speed (VMA) was raised to 90 km/h from 2020 are higher in 2020 and 2021 than in 2017, before the reduction of the VMA to 80 km/h. “, explains the organization. In other words, we would drive faster than before on the same networkswhile the maximum speed has been lowered to 80 km/h.
Our colleagues from Numerama are launching Watt Else, their newsletter dedicated to the mobility of the future. Sign up here to make sure you receive the next issue!
Leave a Reply