The number of people killed on French roads dropped by a huge 15 percent in the first half of 2013 compared with the same period last year, according to National Council for Road Safety (CNSR) figures released on Thursday.
Interior Minister Manuel Valls told reporters that 257 fewer people had died in road accidents compared with the first six months of 2012.
2012 was a record in itself – with an improvement of eight percent on 2011 – and was the lowest number of fatalities since 1948.
“These results are extremely encouraging,” said Valls, who reiterated his ambition to reduce the number of fatalities – 3,645 in the whole of 2012 – to 2,000 by 2020.
Speed was the “primary cause” of fatal accidents, said Valls, who has asked the CNSR to consider introducing airplane style “black boxes” in cars, so that the precise cause of accidents can be established.
May saw the most extraordinary results with a drop of 29.5 percent on the year before, attributed by the CNSR to gloomy weather, the financial crisis which has caused motorists to drive more slowly and the introduction of new speed cameras on French roads.
“Without speed cameras we would not have seen such a reduction,” said Valls, adding that the number of mobile cameras in unmarked cars, which have been subject to huge publicity, would soon rise to 100, adding to the 4,000 fixed radars across France.
Valls also said he was keen to reduce the speed limit on the “Periphérique” ring road surrounding Paris from 80km/h to 70km/h, and that if this happened it should also apply to “secondary roads, and particularly for those that have no road markings.”