It's not all endless sunshine

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Gus Morris
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It's not all endless sunshine

Post by Gus Morris » Sun 16 Jul 2017 06:22

The holiday season is in full swing, temperarures are soaring, vacanciers throng the beaches, money is pouring into the tills. What more could we want?

But there is another side to the coin. Major road accidents are becoming a daily occurence. Since the beginning of the month there have been three fatal road accidents in the Argeles area alone. Then there are the fires. Elne seems to have re-ignited. Hopefully Le Boulou has been extinguished. And that is just the stuff reported by the media.

So spare a thought for the guys and gals of the emergency services. Be safe and aware. Don't make their job more difficult and dangerous than it is all ready.

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Post by Lanark Lass » Sun 16 Jul 2017 17:39

Interestingly the road accidents have happened to local people who should know the roads rather than tourists.

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Post by Kate » Mon 17 Jul 2017 07:57

Yes, definite downside. The region needs the tourism but when the traffic gets heavy many people around here aren't used to it.

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Post by Gus Morris » Mon 17 Jul 2017 09:54

In France you are twice as likely to be killed in a road traffic accident as in the UK. Endless analysis of the statistics can no doubt produce all sorts of conclusions as to why exactly.

Many years ago places like California introduced "Courtesy Cops". The idea was to stop and warn drivers who were not following the rules. With modern technology unmarked cars with dash cams could be really effective. It's rare for us to drive into Perpignan without witnessing at least one instance of dangerous driving. But given French attitudes and the general distrust of the police it will probably remain a pipe dream.

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Post by martyn94 » Mon 17 Jul 2017 14:07

Gus Morris wrote:In France you are twice as likely to be killed in a road traffic accident as in the UK. Endless analysis of the statistics can no doubt produce all sorts of conclusions as to why exactly.

Many years ago places like California introduced "Courtesy Cops". The idea was to stop and warn drivers who were not following the rules. With modern technology unmarked cars with dash cams could be really effective. It's rare for us to drive into Perpignan without witnessing at least one instance of dangerous driving. But given French attitudes and the general distrust of the police it will probably remain a pipe dream.

Gus
I suspect that a lot of it is just geography. France is a big place, and plenty of people live in rural or "peri-urban" settings where they have no choice but to go everywhere by car. They are often not very well off, and tend to have clapped-out old cars, and are often not very bright or are just old, and tend to drive stupidly. And they tend to have roads which give plenty of scope for driving fast and dangerously, and which will always realistically be underpoliced.

Death rates by department are here

http://www.linternaute.com/auto/acciden ... ents/morts

You will see that, on the whole, you die most if you live in the sticks, where "Courtesy Cops" are likely to be thin on the ground.

Where I occasionally live in Normandy, a lot of accidents are associated with my local disco: it is about 2 kms from the local (very) small town, but many of the customers come from 20 or 30 kms away. And they don't all get home in one piece. I don't know where to find a disco living in Port Vendres (I very much hope that my disco-going days are over). But I guess that I would still have to go by car, and there seem to be a awful lot of accidents at funny times early on a Sunday.

All that said, it's a lot better than it used to be, despite a bit of backsliding recently.

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Post by Lanark Lass » Mon 17 Jul 2017 18:22

The lack of public transport may also cause problems for some. O.K. there is a reasonable (not exactly good!)coastal service between Perpignan and but try getting from somewhere like St Andre or Palau to Perpignan. Not so easy. A reason why people may reluctantly have to drive.

The recent incidents, though, involved a fireman from Palau who should be used to the roads and a younger driver from Collioure.

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Post by Gus Morris » Mon 17 Jul 2017 18:54

The pattern of where accidents occur is almost identical in both France and The UK. Around 65% happen outside urban areas. Autoroutes are much safer. So the idea that the reason that France is twice as deadly as the UK, because more of the traffic is on quiet country roads, does not stack up. It just seems that the standard of driving is lower than other countries.

What follows is true. It happened today and I saw it with my own eyes. A large lorry towing a trailer carrying a digger was making progress between Cerbere and Banyuls. It approached one of the 120 degree hairpins. An oncoming car stopped so the lorry could get around the tight corner. Two vehicles behind the car simply pulled out and came face to face with the truck as it cleared the bend. Chaos ensued as they tried to back up but there was nowhere to go because further traffic had pulled up behind the car. This was caused by sheer stupidity. Also there are no warning signs advising drivers to beware of oncoming traffic in the middle of the road.

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Post by martyn94 » Mon 17 Jul 2017 18:58

Lanark Lass wrote:The lack of public transport may also cause problems for some. O.K. there is a reasonable (not exactly good!)coastal service between Perpignan and but try getting from somewhere like St Andre or Palau to Perpignan. Not so easy. A reason why people may reluctantly have to drive.

The recent incidents, though, involved a fireman from Palau who should be used to the roads and a younger driver from Collioure.
I think the problem in a place where you mostly have to drive is that you just have to have a car. And then when you do have a car you always use it, for reasons of cost and convenience, whatever the public transport might theoretically do from breakfast-time until tea-time (if you wait for an hour).

And I doubt that male car-owners are reluctant to drive a car, once they've paid the costs of entry: it can be a lot of fun, if you drive sufficiently madly, and your male hormones get going. (That's only if you're a male, obviously, but the victims almost always are male, unless they are collateral damage).

However good the public transport gets from here to St Cyp (say), it's not going to get me home from the disco at 0500 on a Sunday morning. And it wouldn't be half so much fun, if I were to survive it.

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Post by Lanark Lass » Mon 17 Jul 2017 19:47

I agree with what you say about the late night disco. But last weeks fatal accidents happened during the daytime.

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Post by martyn94 » Tue 18 Jul 2017 00:10

Lanark Lass wrote:I agree with what you say about the late night disco. But last weeks fatal accidents happened during the daytime.
I know nothing about the recent accidents (I hit the Indep's paywall), but in general accidents on quiet country roads tend to be either one car accidents (somebody drives into a tree at high speed) or two car accidents (somebody drives on the wrong side of the road, and hits some poor sod coming the other way at very high speed). Either way, it's still usually just booze or hormones (or put politely, "driver error").

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Post by martyn94 » Tue 18 Jul 2017 00:23

Gus Morris wrote:The pattern of where accidents occur is almost identical in both France and The UK. Around 65% happen outside urban areas. Autoroutes are much safer. So the idea that the reason that France is twice as deadly as the UK, because more of the traffic is on quiet country roads, does not stack up. It just seems that the standard of driving is lower than other countries.


Gus
I agree, obviously, about the relative risks. But if there were, say, twice as many rural roads in France (which must be an underestimate), and twice as many people driving on them (which doesn't seem implausible), surely that might mean there are twice as many stiffs in France? Without that saying much about the quality of the driving (which is bad everywhere, but always self-reported as "above average").

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Post by scotty210 » Tue 18 Jul 2017 02:16

The amout of people I spot around here every single day using a mobile phone whilst driving is staggering, young and old, male and female, and I'm sure that plenty of other forum users will have found the same.

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Post by Santiago » Tue 18 Jul 2017 11:27

The UK ran a long program of adverts in newspapers and on TV about dangerous driving and it worked.

Here in France, although most drivers are considerate, there are more nutters who will overtake for no obvious reason, often on blind corners or near junctions. In summer it gets worse because the road-racers get annoyed about the caravans and tourists. Almost everyday I witness a potential accident.

France needs to do something to make all drivers far more considerate and safe. I single out young men but I've seen terrible examples from women around lunchtime too.
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Post by Gus Morris » Tue 18 Jul 2017 11:57

There are a number of ways of analysing road safety on an annual basis. Two of the most common are accidents per kilometers travelled and accidents as a percentage of the population. Using the latter method the most recent figures show that in France there are 53.5 deaths per million, the UK 28.7. Switzerland is currently the best European performer with 25.9 deaths per million. Interestingly the figure for the USA is 107!

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Post by martyn94 » Tue 18 Jul 2017 12:19

Santiago wrote:
France needs to do something to make all drivers far more considerate and safe. I single out young men but I've seen terrible examples from women around lunchtime too.
Do something, sure, but what exactly? You could put bromide salts in the tap water to make young men a bit less frisky, but the Greens wouldn't like it. You could crack down on eg mobile phone use, which is tried occasionally - but there is no manpower to do it for long, and the police don't like being even more unpopular than they already are with respectable citizens.

Speed cameras seem to the least-worst thing: but who likes them? The truth is that countries find a balance between cost and public "pushback" and effectiveness. Despite occasional bouts of vandalism of speed cameras, I doubt that the balance is terribly different here than in other places (though it was lethally lax until Chirac decided to take it seriously).

Death and serious injury go down over time essentially because modern cars are very much more survivable in a smash, and A&E departments are more skilled. And soonish, though too late for me, the cars will just be driving themselves much better than we do.

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Post by Kate » Tue 18 Jul 2017 18:33

I bumped (no pun intended ) into an acquaintance yesterday who said her neighbour had an accident this weekend. No one seriously hurt but he was hit by a driver (with whole family in car) who had been driving for 12 hours non stop. Lots of tired people arriving on vacances!

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Post by martyn94 » Wed 26 Jul 2017 16:52

Gus Morris wrote:There are a number of ways of analysing road safety on an annual basis. Two of the most common are accidents per kilometers travelled and accidents as a percentage of the population. Using the latter method the most recent figures show that in France there are 53.5 deaths per million, the UK 28.7. Switzerland is currently the best European performer with 25.9 deaths per million. Interestingly the figure for the USA is 107!

Gus
So what are the relative figures in deaths per km? I ask because you have obviously got these figures at your fingertips, but seem to have chosen the less apposite one.

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Post by martyn94 » Wed 26 Jul 2017 16:59

Kate wrote:I bumped (no pun intended ) into an acquaintance yesterday who said her neighbour had an accident this weekend. No one seriously hurt but he was hit by a driver (with whole family in car) who had been driving for 12 hours non stop. Lots of tired people arriving on vacances!
A friend of mine used to take his pet rabbits with him, plus a couple of knocked-down hutches (as well as the family, obviously). And for at least 12 hours. It must have got quite "close" towards the end. I guess it's not easy to find boarding kennels for rabbits.

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Post by Allan » Wed 26 Jul 2017 21:23

martyn94 wrote:
Gus Morris wrote:There are a number of ways of analysing road safety on an annual basis. Two of the most common are accidents per kilometers travelled and accidents as a percentage of the population. Using the latter method the most recent figures show that in France there are 53.5 deaths per million, the UK 28.7. Switzerland is currently the best European performer with 25.9 deaths per million. Interestingly the figure for the USA is 107!

Gus
So what are the relative figures in deaths per km? I ask because you have obviously got these figures at your fingertips, but seem to have chosen the less apposite one.
Wikipedia is your friend https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of ... death_rate

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Post by Gus Morris » Sun 30 Jul 2017 10:03

The site https://ec.europa.eu/transport/road_saf ... tistics_en provides some interesting data.

I saw an interview on French TV a couple of days back where a road safety campaigner said what many people are thinking. In France we have, on average, ten deaths on our roads every day. If we had ten people killed every day by terrorists the public outcry would be deafening.

Gus

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Post by martyn94 » Sun 30 Jul 2017 21:29

Gus Morris wrote:The site https://ec.europa.eu/transport/road_saf ... tistics_en provides some interesting data.

I saw an interview on French TV a couple of days back where a road safety campaigner said what many people are thinking. In France we have, on average, ten deaths on our roads every day. If we had ten people killed every day by terrorists the public outcry would be deafening.

Gus
But you could take the view that the glass is half full rather than half empty. On this weekend of all weekends, millions of motorists covered hundreds of millions of miles, and almost all of them survived it, and got somewhere that their family will enjoy, or got home.
A vastly higher proportion than when I first drove in France. Of course any death is too many, though quite a few road deaths seem to be a rather crude sort of natural selection. And I suppose a few people were clumsy enough to fall off ladders.

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