Road safety in France
The Ministry of Ecology and Sustainable Planning and Development
DSCR, Road and Traffic Safety Department
92055 LA DEFENSE CEDEX
Tel: (33) 1 40 81 21 22
Fax: (33) 1 40 81 27 70
The National Interministerial Road Safety Observatory
The Interministerial Road Safety Committee (CISR)
The National Road Safety Council (CISR)
The National Institute of Road Safety and Research (INSERR)
The Ministry of National Education
The Ministry of the Interior
The Ministry of Defence, Directorate General of the National Gendarmerie
The Ministry of Health
Road Accident Prevention
The Automobile Club of France
The French Association for the Prevention of Bad Behaviour at the Steering Wheel
The League against Road Violence
The Association of Families of Victims of Road Accidents
The Youth Road Association
The In-company Road Safety Promotion and Monitoring Association
Document prepared at the initiative of the Department of Economic and International Affairs, Secretariat-General, with the collaboration of the Road Traffic Safety Department and the Ministry of Ecology
and Sustainable Planning and Development. Coordination: Secretariat-General, Department of Information and Communication. Graphic design: ABD.
The french experience
Imprimé sur papier recyclé par l’imprimerie NPC - certifiée Imprim’vert Décembre 2007
Your contacts in France
©MEDAD/SG/SIC - 2002 Photo B.Suard
An ambitious, multi-facetted policy
A remarkable decrease in the number
A twofold approach: prevention and
Concerted action by all players
The french experience
The general acceptability of French
road safety policy lies in a balanced
combination of two approaches:
prevention and repression:
Voluntarism at the highest level.
This enabled implementation of the policy pursued today
and has ensured its success among the vast majority of
people. This success is also due to the action taken by
numerous associations which for some years have been
making the authorities, the road users and the general
public more aware of road dangers.
photography and the transmission
of secure data over the Internet.
Speed limits have not changed, but
the payment of fines has been put
on a fixed-rate basis. The second
repressive measure: the imposition
of higher fines for the most serious
infractions. Lastly, the police have
been mobilised to reinforce traffic
a road safety
Victim and casualty figures over
within 30 days
after the accidente
In less than one year, all the statutory, legislative and
financial hurdles were cleared, with the result that by the
end of 2003, the first automated radar units were installed.
In 2002, the affirmation, declared at the highest levels of
the government, of its determination to reduce road dangers, gave new impetus to Interministerial coordination
and came at a time when a real road safety culture was
gaining ground among the general public.
This means developing a road safety
culture and involving all the players
through better driver education
and preventing risks by mobilising
the partners concerned and developing new approaches. Three types
of action have been implemented:
- Information and advertising targeting the public, in particular
by campaigns in the mass media;
- The education first of primary school children and then of secondary
school students (12 - 15 - year - olds).
The excellent results achieved since 2003 are due to a
long-term initiative introduced in the early 1970’s, and
the existence of a major administrative legal corpus enabling the implementation of an efficient, egalitarian policy
of road safety control.
•Controls and penalties
This means increasing both controls
and penalties to change people’s behaviour and ensure compliance with
the rules. A flagship measure introducing some 1000 automated radar
units was implemented over two
years (2004 - 2005) on the autoroutes, main and minor roads and in the
The decision to install this automated control/penalty system (CSA)
was taken at a turning point in technological advancement: this new tool
combines radar technology, digital
©MEDAD/SG/SIC - 2007 Photo B.Suard.
French road safety policy is formulated by the Interministerial Road Safety Committee (CISR) chaired by the
Prime Minister and composed of the ministers concerned
(Defence, Justice, Health, etc.) and the Minister of Ecology and Sustainable Planning and Development, who
heads the Committee. This policy is coordinated by the
Interministerial Road Safety representative, who is also
the Director of Safety and Road Traffic.
- Partnerships with associations, companies, local authorities and public
and private research bodies.
•Education and information
©MEDAD/SG/SIC - 2007 Photo G.Crossay
An ongoing combination of prevention and repression.
A complete system, created in this period and deploying
all the players and all the necessary skills, assured the
success of the French road safety policy implemented in
The french experience
An effective control/penalty policy.
©MEDAD/DSCR Photo F. Cepas
A remarkable decrease
in the number of victims
For 2006 alone, the decrease will be 12 %, reflecting a
significant decrease for the fifth successive year, with
•More people are wearing seat
All roads taken together, in the years
from 2002 to 2006 the average
speed of French drivers fell by 7 kph
(from 90.5 kph in 2002 to 82.2 kph)
in 2006. This resulted in a reduction
of 75 % in the number of road fatalities over this five-year period.
Much greater use has been made of
seat belts in recent years, especially
since failure by the driver to wear a
seat belt has meant the loss of three
penalty points from his or her licence
All roads taken together, for saloon
cars the figures for speeding fell from
39.5 % at the beginning of 2002 to
17.1 % at the end of 2006.
•Major speeding offences in free
Progress unevenly distributed.
Since the impetus provided by the government in 2002,
the number of lives saved is estimated at over 10,000,
and the number of injuries avoided at over 100,000.
Road deaths have fallen by 43 % since 2003.
•Lower average speed and less
The number of road victims is falling in all age brackets.
Among the encouraging signs, the 15 - 17 age group was
up 12.6 % in 2005, but down by 13.5 % in 2006.
Motorcyclists are still the user category most exposed to
road dangers. Motorcycles account for only 1 % of traffic, but
13 % of the vehicles involved in an accident and 16.5 % of
the casualties (killed or injured).
In 2006, the main beneficiaries of this decrease in road
deaths are the drivers of saloon cars, moped riders, motorcyclists and pedestrians. This decrease does not extend
to cyclists and drivers of commercial vehicles.
In 2006, the number of major speeding offences (more than 30 kph over
the limit) fell by nearly 80 % over
Speeding accounted for 60 % of the
offences recorded, as against 39 % in
If all drivers observed the speed limits,
25 % of all fatal accidents could be
As regards driving in town, spectacular results have been achieved, going
from 80.6 % in 1992 to 97.2 % in
2006. On the other hand, figures for
the use of rear seat belts are lower:
77.8 % in town and 85.2 % in open
Over 420 lives could have been saved in 2006 if both front and rear
seat belts had been regularly worn.
With the automatic control/penalty
system, the number of speeding
offences rose from 1.4 million in 2002
to 7.2 million in 2006, a fivefold
The number of penalty points reached 8 million, an increase of 7.2 %
68,866 licences were revoked or
suspended, an increase of 27 % over
•Driving under the influence of
alcohol under close surveillance
Preventive checks are up by 1.8 %. In
2006, alcohol has become the primary cause of accidents. In that period,
if no driver had tested positive for alcohol, the number of fatal accidents
and persons killed could have been
cut by 26.2%.
©MEDAD/DSCR Photo F. Cepas.
©MEDAD/DSCR Photo F. Cepas.
Victims by type of road
The french experience
M a k i n g d r i v i n g l i c e n c e s e a s i e r t o o b t a i n : a l i c e n c e f o r 1 e u r o a d a y.
Introduced in 2005, the “1 Euro a Day” driving licence entitles young people to a loan at zero percent interest.
By 30 September 2007, some 160,000 young drivers had taken out this loan.
The automated penalty system.
The introduction of the automated control/penalty system
(CSA) has improved the detection of offences, and failure
to obey the rules automatically incurs a fine.
being extended so as to install 2000 units by the end of
2007 (1045 fixed and 663 on-board units by 31 October
The CSA is the first fully digital system (cameras, number
plate recognition, batch treatment) and requires far
fewer human resources to process the offences.
The police do however continue to maintain a presence
on the roads with conventional mobile radar units and
the new long-range laser binoculars. The CSA allows
them to use the time freed up for operations not falling under the automated control system: e.g. seat belt
checks, rear seat belts in particular, and alcohol controls.
Transparency is a further advantage of the system: the
website www.securite-routiere.gouv.fr keeps the radar
unit map permanently up to date; the map is also available on the Ministry of the Interior’s website. The radar
units are clearly indicated and basically installed in really
dangerous areas. The deployment of this system, which
has made a vital contribution to the progress achieved, is
The majority of French drivers have indicated their support for this control/penalty system despite the inconvenience it may cause.
The driving licence points system.
The points system is designed to reduce the number of
offences and second offences.
starts with an initial “bank” of 6 points. If s/he incurs no
The points system, which is basically an educational tool,
was introduced in 1992. Every driver starts with a “bank”
of points. S/he loses a number of points that vary according to the seriousness of the offence. Under the new
system, the driver loses 2 points for using a mobile phone
at the wheel, while failing to wear a safety helmet or a
seat belt now incurs a loss of 3 points instead of 2.
year for 3 years, or by 3 points a year for 2 years if s/he
And last but not least, the provisional licence was introduced in 2004. This is intended to make younger drivers
more aware of their responsibilities. The new L-driver
losses of points, this “bank” increases by 2 points each
has attended 20 hours of courses at a driving school;
then s/he has to drive at least 3000 km with her/his
parents (The French Apprentissage Anticipé de la Conduite).
If s/he loses the initial 6 points, the driver’s licence is
revoked and s/he is required to repeat all the required
In France in 2006, the number of drivers who lost their
licences was less than 2 in 1000.
Road safety education begins at a
very early age in France. Right from
primary school, road safety education is given with the purpose of
reducing the number of road deaths
among the 18 - 24 age group.
The continuous nature of this safety
education, from school right up to
the driving test, is ensured by interministerial action: the ministers in
charge of youth, national education,
and research. Three certificates are
awarded: The first, awarded in primary school, is the “Road Safety” Level
1 certificate. This is followed by a
second certificate in second grade
(12 - 13 age group). The “Road Safety
Level 1” certificate (ASSR 1) leads
to the Road Safety Diploma needed
to ride a moped. Lastly, in fourth
grade (14 - 15 age group), the “Road
Safety” Level 2 certificate (ASSR 2)
is needed to obtain a driving licence.
Road safety awareness training is
given by the teachers. The teachers
have access to a network of 230
representatives, set up by the School
Getting the penalties accepted.
Every year, two or three major information campaigns involving all the
media (TV, press, radio, Internet)
are aimed at all those for whom
road safety is an issue: the general
public, the young, pedestrians, moped riders and so on. Through the
compelling facts they present, these
campaigns provide ongoing information concerning the main risk factors
(speeding, alcohol, not wearing seat
belts, drowsiness at the wheel) and
make road users question their
behaviour. These shock campaigns,
which are both realistic and violent,
aim at making people aware of the
reality of the risks and getting them
to obey the rules.
the driver at the wheel. Posters featured in towns and cities heighten
the awareness of drivers and pedestrians. For motorcyclists, the specialist press is used. Internet messages
are addressed more to the younger
The resources deployed are considerable: no communication medium
is overlooked, and they are tailored
to reach the target public concerned. TV adverts are aimed at the
general public and radio spots at
In 2007, a large-scale information
campaign was aimed at adults, reminding them of the permitted
blood alcohol level of 0.5 g/l, and
promoting the use of the “Blow and
You’ll Know” alcotest.
There are regular campaigns on the
dangers of alcohol, especially when
going to a club on Saturday night,
with the creation of character called
Sam, who doesn’t drink, using radio
spots, banners, a dedicated website,
and tactical posters in pubs, restaurants and clubs. This is accompanied by
a dedicated website, “sortezrevenez.fr
(“go out and come back…”)
©MEDAD/DSCR Lowe Strateus
©MEDAD/DSCR Lowe Strateus
A twofold approach:
repression and prevention
Awareness for life!
The french experience
Numerous sectors have become
directly involved in the road safety
policy introduced by the public
©MEDAD/SG/SIC - 2004 Photo F. Roger
• Partnerships with professional
Under the Professional Driving Risk
Prevention Committee, partnership
have been formed with four employee
benefit schemes: the National
Health Insurance Fund for Wage
Earners (CNAMTS), the Agricultural Workers’ and Farmers’ Mutual
Welfare Fund (CCMSA), the National Pension Fund for Local Authority Employees (CNRACL) and the
by all players
Coordination of all the public entities concerned.
The success of the declared political will has been due to the cooperation of all the partners concerned by road safety:
public authorities, police, clubs and associations, local relay networks, elected representatives, the corporate sector, etc.
•The task of the International Road Safety Committee
(CISR) is to define French road safety policy.
of driving test examiners. Its job is to promote road
safety by developing among other things a national
prevention policy governing both the general public and
the different categories of road user. Lastly, the DSCR
co-manages the regional road information and coordination centres (CRICRs) with the Ministry of the Interior
(the National Police Force) and the Ministry of Defence
(the National Gendarmerie).
Created in 1972, the Committee regularly calls a meeting
of all the ministers concerned, chaired by the Prime Minister. In recent years, new measures have been introduced,
among them the “1 Euro a Day” driving licence to give
young persons better access to driver training, combat
the uncontrolled use of motorcycles, increase the number of radar units to control speeding, ensure the use of •The National Road Safety Council (CNSR); its job is
seat belts and make the driver responsible for the safety
twofold, firstly to put forward road safety proposals to
of passengers under 18, make sure drivers understand
the government, and secondly, to evaluate the results of
the penalty points system, develop and strengthen local
road safety measures. The Council includes all the players
road safety policy and improve infrastructure, particularly
concerned by road safety (elected representatives,
as regards the consistency of road signs.
companies, associations and the relevant authorities) and
provides a forum for discussions and proposals concerning
•The interministerial road safety representative
is in charge of the secretaryship of the CISR. He is also
Head of Safety and Road Traffic (DSCR), the central •The national interministerial road safety observatory
administrative department of the Ministry of Transport.
gathers, formats, interprets and publishes national and
•The Safety and Road traffic department (DSCR)
implements the decisions of the CISR. It defines the
general traffic requirements for all road networks and
is in charge of road safety as well as the management
of road traffic. It draws up the technical regulations for
vehicles, driver training and driving tests via the network
international statistical data on road safety. It assists with
the follow-up of insufficient road safety surveys and the
evaluation of new safety measures. It receives feedback
from a network of twenty-five regional observatories;
this network will soon be extended to include one hundred
Social Security Scheme for the SelfEmployed (RSI). A code of good
practice has been drawn up (aids
and guides to the assessment of
professional driving risks, journey
planning, vehicle equipment and
occupational training). These tools
are designed for companies that
have signed the Road Safety Charter, to help them draw up an occupational driving risk prevention plan.
• Partnerships with the health
A charter for assistance to the families
of road accident victims has been
published to encourage hospitals
and the like to introduce a personalised support service for these
• Partnerships with clubs and
These offer a particularly effective
means of support as they can specifically target a very wide range of
people. In 2006, over forty clubs
and associations have received grants
for a variety of projects: support
and assistance to the victims of road
accidents, the design of educational
or recreational tools, etc.
Commitment at local level
(institutions, local authorities, associations, etc.)
Implementation of the local road
safety policy in his département is
the responsibility of the Prefect,
who is assisted by a road safety
coordinator based either in the
Prefecture or in the Departmental
Road safety officers are appointed
in each government department.
They monitor road safety in all
its aspects and represent it at the
government’s centre of expertise on
road safety. The road safety project
manager calls regular meetings of
the centre of expertise to formulate,
implement and monitor governmental
policy within the département.
The policy is systematised in a general planning document, under a partnership procedure at prefecture,
general council and municipal level,
to define and disseminate the road
safety policies they implement, jointly
or separately, for the next few years
(2004 - 2008).
A specific section of this policy is implemented under the departmental
road safety action plans (PDASRs)
which are drawn up every year by
the Prefects and disseminate details
of all the action plans carried out in
the département. This provides a framework for cooperation and coordination of the projects conducted
by the different players.
The PDASR comprises three main
fields of operation: road infrastructure; education / training / prevention /
information; and lastly, controls and
The deployment of major material and financial resources.
Generous finance is made available
by all of the partners.
The Prefects have funds earmarked for funding the measures they
envisage and for assisting certain
projects undertaken by the partners,
associations in particular. Other
partners such as local authorities
and players assist with funding of
the Departmental Road Safety Action
The Road Safety programme is
devoted to younger drivers (14 - 28
age group) who, as part of the fight
against poor road safety, can submit
a “Label Vie” project (www.label-vie.net)
to the prefecture with the backing of
an association. They can also receive
a grant of up to 800 euros if the
project is accepted.
under local partnerships, chiefly
Road Safety houses are gradually
being introduced in the départements
groups, associations, institutions and
between the prefectures and the
local authorities. They offer support
to victims and their families, relay
information to the public, provide
the resources required for action at
local level and serve as a forum for
exchanges between local volunteer