La priorité à droite – for pity’s sake why?

The French Ministry of Transport which is actually the Ministère de l’environment, de l’énergie et de la mer,  has decided that there are too many accidents on French roads. So they going to try to make money out of cutting the number of accidents.

Can anyone see a problem with this thinking? 

Instead of looking at one of the major causes of accidents on French roads, La priorité à droite, they have decided to introduce a system of stealth speed camera cars operated by a private company. I seem to recall that all private companies have to make a profit. Ergo, The French Ministry of Transport is monetising the prosecution of speeding offences.

A recent study indicated that approximately 30% of all accidents in France were at priorité à droite junctions and, at one point, 33% of all vehicle deaths occurred at priorité à droite junctions.  The sensible thing to do would be to instigate the total removal of la priorité à droite. Unfortunately, priorité à droite was dreamed up by the French Ministry of Transport so, therefore, “it is a good thing” no matter how crazy it is.

La priorité à droite

Priorite a Droite Route End SignPriorite a Droite Route SignPriorite A Droite SignLa priorité à droite’s main purpose is to slow the traffic down on major routes. It gives priority to any vehicle joining a major route from the right (yes, you read that correctly!). Most, but not all, priorité à droite junctions are marked with a sign containing a black cross in a red triangle. The routes where priorité à droite is in operation are marked with a yellow diamond with a black line through it. Where it is not in operation, with the yellow diamond.

If the French Ministry of Transport was really serious about reducing accidents and not about raising “stealth” revenue, they would ban La priorité à droite tomorrow.

In the UK, there is a system of mobile speed cameras. These highly visible vans have cameras mounted both at the front and rear so they can catch the transgressors from both directions. By placing these vans in very visible locations, it has the effect of slowing the traffic to the speed limit of below for quite some distance in both directions. These vans move position regularly thereby covering a number of different sections of road in a day. Surely, this is more beneficial in reducing speeding especially in areas where accidents occur more frequently?

Distracted Driving

Daily motorists run the gauntlet of dodging distracted drivers. Drivers weaving all over the road as they talk into their mobiles, fiddle with their GPS or radio, change songs on their smartphone etc. There are laws in France about using these devices when driving but, for some reason, the police don’t want to enforce them. There are even laws about wearing earphones in the vehicle.

If the mobile Speed camera vans, static speed cameras and traffic light cameras et al. could track and ticket those on the phone etc. this would be an additional source of revenue for the Ministry of Transport without having to resort to entrapment and “stealth taxes”.

The main problem with the French Transport system, roads, regulations etc. is that they don’t take into account “Human Factors”. These are brilliant pieces of thinking provided humans aren’t part of the equation. It’s about time that those that make the rules and plan new roads actually used the road system rather than using the Metro, RER or chauffeur-driven cars to get to work.

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