The risk of fatal accidents whilst travelling on motorways throughout Europe has the potential to affect all road users. A recent survey completed by the French Motorway’s Association (ASFA) shows that of all fatal accidents on the motorway in France, the majority of fault lies with the motorist.
In 2017, there were 150 fatal accidents on France’s motorways leading to 166 deaths however, this figure is half that of the year 2000. Generally the French motorway system is far superior to the UK’s but you still need to take care. Often UK drivers believe they can drive at faster speeds as they (mistakenly) believe they will not get fined for speeding while abroad.
The report by ASFA looks deeply into the causes of accidents that occur on the nine thousand kilometres of motorways; they found that motorists are acting without proper caution whilst driving on a motorway.
It is known that driving whilst tired causes accidents, yet the ASFA found that 25.3% of accidents were caused by drowsiness; a number that could easily be reduced by taking regular breaks. Furthermore, of 25.3% of fatal accidents is the use of alcohol and/or drugs. In addition, drivers travelling above the speed limit (12%), drivers who are distracted (11.3%) and dangerous driving manoeuvres (8.7%) have contributed to the number of fatalities on the motorway.
Even though it has been obligatory to where a seatbelt in France for over 20 years (over 50 years for front seat passengers), 26% of fatalities were due to no seatbelt being worn! There is a tenfold increase in your chance of dying in a car crash, if no seatbelt is worn according to French road safety organisations. If everyone buckled up the number of lives saved would be massive.
The involvement of drugs and alcohol including prescribed medication is around 25%, this has increased by 10% in the last 2 years. Of this 25%, the fatalities mainly occur at night and on weekends; males under 35 are the majority demographic represented within the 25%.
Speeding and driving too close to the vehicle in front, tailgating and switching in and out of lanes to undertake are often the cause of accidents. In summary, drivers on the whole need to rely on themselves to drive carefully to prevent accidents. If we all just took some simple steps to improve our driving, the road becomes safer for everyone.