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Speed limits in France

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Speed limits in France

French roads have a variable speed limit that depends on weather conditions. In dry weather rural 2- or 3-lane roads are limited to 90 km/h, 4-lane expressways (in rural areas) 110 km/h, and highways (in rural areas) 130 km/h. When raining, the limits are lowered to (respectively) 80, 100, and 110 km/h. Urban speed limit of 50 km/h is unaffected by weather. The general speed limit is lowered to 50 km/h on all roads in the fog or other low-visibility conditions if visibility is under 50 meters.

Vehicles over 3.5 metric tons of maximum total weight have lower speed limits. Lorries of more than 12 metric tons (except dangerous goods and trailers that may have lower limits) may not exceed 50 km/h in urban areas (even if the speed limit was raised to 70 km/h), 90 km/h on highways, and 80 km/h elsewhere. Lorries under 12 metric tons but over 3.5 have the same limits except 90 km/h on 4-lane expressways. Buses may not exceed 100 km/h on highways and 4-lane expressways.

Minimum or recommended speeds are very rarely marked in France, though vehicles incapable of sustaining 60 km/h are not allowed on highways and you must be driving at 80 km/h or higher to use the left-most lane of a highway. Posted speed limits, to conform to the French Highway Code, must be in odd multiples of ten (e.g., 10, 30, 50, etc.), though you can still see 40, 60 and 80 sometimes.

In 2005, a governmental report advised lowering the higher highway speed to 115 km/h in order to save fuel and reduce accident risks, but this proposal was badly received. Since 2002, the French government has installed a number of automatic radar guns on autoroutes, routes nationales, and other major thoroughfares. These are in addition to radar manned by the French National Police and the Gendarmerie. The French authorities have credited this increase in traffic enforcement with a 50% drop in road fatalities from 2002 to 2006 (except on Motorways, where the fatalities rose by 15% between 2002 and 2006).

References and Sources

  • Sécurité Routière, Ministère de l'Écologie, de l'Énergie, du Développement durable et de la Mer, Délégation à la sécurité et à la circulation routières, RCS paris b 562 111 732, July 2009.
  • Decree n°73-1073 or the "Code de la route", 3 December 1973, Journal Officiel, page 12844.
  • Code de la route (available at http://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/):
    • Article R413-2
    • Article R413-4
    • Article R413-3


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