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French in the fast lane

A quick observation triggered by the very helpful post from The French Village Diaries, regarding death by speed on French roads. Apparently France has a 31% level of fatal accidents due to speed. No really? Am I standing with my mouth open in amazed disbelieve? No. I am probably opening my mouth and shouting wildly at yet another French driver who has thought it perfectly fine to sit tailgating me for the last half hour, then as our wide straight road heads towards a blind corner, with a junction, a house, and a no overtake mark on the road, swings out and blasts past, almost shearing off my wing-mirror. Then, unlike us Brits learnt, we do not pull swiftly back into lane after indicating. No we continue, at speed to drift along on the opposite side of the road, blissfully unaware that the oncoming traffic I coming into view at an alarming rate!

Luckily by the time I have reached and gone round the blind corner, my French driver would have either arrived at their destination, poured a glass of Bordeaux and lit a fag – or in the case of this statistic, become part of the 31% who now reside elsewhere.

And interestingly, another statistic – CO2 emissions. Due to the speed limit being reduced to 80km per hour, fuel and thus pollution will be reduced. Well maybe but with the inability of the French to try and not light up a cigarette twenty times a day, I don’t think the “clean-air” policy holds much weight.

And imagine – French mornings now. Cigarette, black coffee and off to work. At midday, starving, anxious and foot firmly pressed down on that car pedal to shoot off home for that baguette, your going to have to take an extra ten minutes to get there. That’s probably going to mean hyperventilating, the lighting of another cigarette and eyes off the road as you roll your rizlar , you wont see me poodling along as usual, before that bend. Hopefully you see the tractor, or that big oak tree before its too late.

There got it off my chest. Apologies to all you non-smoking, courteous French drivers who do take care. Just a bit of French/English bonhomie to brighten a wet day.

Off to check I have my triangle, high-vis and breathalyser kit. I will probably be more likely fined for driving far too slowly!

21 thoughts on “French in the fast lane

  1. Brilliant post and I’m so glad you’ve got it off your chest! Wretched, rotten drivers. Well I’m very glad you’ve come out unscathed … and may it be a good warning to us all to take great care on the roads! There truly are some madmen and women out there! Katie

  2. Great shout out! We live in the UK but often holiday in France and we definitely notice the difference between driving styles. I think perhaps the French are taught a different way to us – they do tailgate then pull out fast – whereas we tend to hang back a bit and in the main are a little more cautious. I like seeing those stats in black and white and look forward to noticing anything different on the French roads this summer (I wonder …. ) as I check my his vis jacket is handy for the summer run. Don’t even mention that weird (to us Brits) old rule that the French have right of way joining a main road from a side road to right of us – that’s something to look out for!

      1. We still get it a lot where we visit in Normandy – I had read it was an old fashioned ‘rule’ but the news obviously hasn’t reached everyone around and about Calvados.

  3. I have a post brewing that compares British, French and (Massachusetts) US driving styles and habits. None of the above come out well. In France we have many friends in the Gendarmerie (my husband has a special position in the Gendarmerie Nationale) and I can only comment that I absolutely pity those that work in rural areas who have to clear up the carnage and break the news all too often that someone got it badly wrong once too often. The stories would make your toes curl and in such a huge country it is very hard to see how they will ever really get a grip on this awful problem.

    1. That’s an unusual role to have but useful I would have thought. I bet they do have some tales. Mind you it’s farmers too. Yesterday one passed us , at speed, pulling a trailer with 8 huge hay bales each weighing around 600kg but also 2 balanced one on the other, up front on forks. One slip and potentially you have the other driver flat as a pancake! In England he would have been stopped .

      1. It’s a complicated story but makes sense when told. When we eventually meet, I will explain because it doesn’t translate easily in writing. But yes, he’s been part of the Gendarmerie for several years. Useful, yes in many ways but more in the way of getting advice from the right people, never in pulling favours, naturally. The tractor, utterly stupid – the worst tractor driving I have EVER seen was in the West of Ireland! YOu have the issue right there though …. in England he would have been stopped. Only if he had been seen and that, of course in an over-crowded island which England is, is much easier than in a sparsely populated area like yours.

      2. True, it’s a quiet back route to town only used by “fast local drivers”, so goes unseen. So we basically keep our wits alert. Luckily our nextdoor farmer hates the speeding too and he is on the local council so any misbehaviour in our little hamlet gets smartly reported. He is a quiet salad loving, non smoking, non drinking farmer who has made us most welcome here. I am planning to put together a photo book for him by end of year. A record of farm life. Most photos done, but needs collating and a bit of tweeting of images.

    1. We use our big van mainly and at least they can’t say they didn’t see us. It’s a big white van man one..3.5 tonne axle weight. Fun parking ..We you two spaces.

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