Two-lane roads with no separating guard rail in France have had their default speed limit reduced from 90 to 80 km/h since 1 July, fulfilling a commitment made by the Prime Minister in January.
The change applies on 40% of the French road network; some 400,000 km of roads are affected by the lower limit.
The government says that 350-400 deaths a year could be prevented by the measure. 55% of French road deaths occur on two-lane roads with no separating guard rail.
By lowering the speed limits to 80, France is following the example of countries with the best safety records in Europe. Sweden has a limit of 70km/h for equivalent roads and has 25 deaths per million inhabitants. Norway (20), Switzerland (27), Denmark (32) and the Netherlands (36) all set the limit at 80km/h. Road deaths in France currently stand at 53 deaths per million inhabitants.
In the neighbouring Belgian region of Flanders, the speed limit on rural roads was reduced from 90km/h to 70km/h in January 2017.