On February 28th, 2012 the government of
The new French law applies equally to vehicles from outside
Only a decade ago,
But alcohol impaired driving has remained a thorny problem. The French cultural tradition of consuming wine with midday and evening meals has meant that despite exceeding the world's best practices in every other area of road safety, it has maintained a much higher rate of alcohol involvement in fatal crashes than its major European neighbors. In 2008, World Health Organization statistics concluded that the proportion of road deaths attributable to alcohol was 17% in the
The latest French statistics have also highlighted the problem. In 2011, 3,970 people died on French roads, down barely 0.5 percent or 22 lives from the 2010 total. The improving trend appeared to be plateauing along with alcohol impairment as a contributing factor increasing to about one in three fatalities or 33%. Ending alcohol impaired driving was estimated as potentially saving over 1000 lives a year in
Road safety experts will watch this unique initiative with great interest. Critics say imposing an obligation to stock the kit, use it, and then abide by the results … and then restock it (etc.) is a fussy nanny state regulation more likely to be ignored than incorporated into driving routine after media attention and enforcement efforts inevitably fade.
The widespread non-compliance with anti-cellphone use laws comes to mind. Supporters argue that drivers will shrewdly weigh the benefits of compliance over the increasingly onerous sanctions including imprisonment for impaired driving, not to mention their appreciation for what the statistics say about the risks involved in continuing to engage in the behaviour.