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France announces new road safety commission as deaths rise, and criticism

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Police officers carry out a police operation in the northeastern suburb of Bobigny, Paris O.Chermann/RFI

France's Prime minister announced on Monday that an interministerial committee for road safety (CISR) will be held 'at the end of the summer', in a bid to reduce road deaths, which have risen by 3.5%. It will be the first time since 2011 that such a commisssion will meet.


"The government's objective is to reduce the number of people killed on our roads to below 2,000," Manuel Valls said on Monday during a press conference in Sainte-Croix-de-Verdon, southeastern France.

"Nine out of ten people are killed everyday in an accident, it"s totally unacceptable," the Prime minister insisted. But he stopped short of criticizing the government's handling of road security, despite a scathing new report claiming the contrary.

On Sunday, France's inspectorate-general of home affairs hit out at the "lack of coordination" between ministries, particularly between interior and ecology staff, arguing that their lack inefficiency was costing lives. Last year, road accidents went up by 3.5%.

But Valls has brushed aside what he considers "sterile debate."

"There is no magic solution, only a battery of measures will help," he explained.

And the government insists that many measures- 19 out of 26 - have already been adopted. Here are some of them:

  • Road speed limits have been reduced
  • Driving hands-free has been banned
  • Legal alcohol limit has been tightened

"We will not reduce speeding by jumping to fast conclusions," Interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve, who accompanied the Prime minister, added.

"Yes, the figures are not great, which is why the new interministerial committee will be the opportunity to evaluate what's working and what's not."

Around 4,000 police officers have been deployed in and around France's roads this summer to try and prevent traffic accidents.

However on Sunday three more people were killed for driving too fast in the northeastern department of Marne. Speed is the primary cause of most motorway accidents. And last week, four teenagers were killed in Rohan, Morbihan. The driver, underage, didn't have a license and tested positive for alcohol.