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More dangerous than driving while drunk: why the state of roads in France is worrying

French roads, recently affected by violent weather, are deteriorating. A worrying situation, but one that would rather be a consequence of a longer-term deterioration, linked to a lack of resources and a more disorderly management of repair works.

Should we launch an emergency plan to save France’s roads? With the inclement weather experienced in recent weeks and, in general, with ongoing climate change, the French road network is increasingly degraded.

Alarming figures

However, this network is essential, but its maintenance depends largely on the municipalities. Of the 1.1 million kilometers of roads, 705.00 kilometers depend on the municipalities, 380,000 kilometers on the departments and 12,000 kilometers on the State.

“These are all roads, departmental, municipal… except the highways, because they are under contract with the State and they have an interest in being well maintained,” recalls Alexandre Legendre, spokesperson for the drivers’ association. Wednesdays on BFMTV.

The figures are truly alarming: 20% of roads are in poor condition, according to the National Road Office.

From being a model student of road infrastructure in 2012, France is now a fool. In less than 10 years, the country has lost 18 positions in a ranking of the best maintained networks by the World Economic Forum published in 2019.

Why the state of our roads is deteriorating – 04/17


After the cacophony of the speed at 80 km/h on the national network and the very tense context of the entry into force of the technical inspection of two wheels, the state of the roads unfortunately does not fail to have consequences on the number of accidents.

“In 30% of fatal accidents, the infrastructure factor seems to be one of the factors involved,” says Alexandra Legendre.

A rate higher than that of fatal accidents caused by drunk driving, 28%, according to the Road Safety association.

Lack of resources and skills.

But how can we explain this recent deterioration?

“Il a bon dos le changement climatique, le démantèlement en 2010 des DDE, les famoususes départementales directions de l’équipement, a fait beaucoup pour accélérer la dégradation du réseau: ces experts qui connaissaient tellement bien le réseau local ont disparu”, souligne Alexandra The gender.

Another cause that usually arises is the lack of resources. The mayor of Langon, near Bordeaux, explains to RMC that road maintenance represents almost half of his municipality’s budget. A budget that has not increased for ten years, with state aid divided by three during this period.

“It’s not that there are still holes in the roads, or that we don’t want to act, it’s simply that we cannot transfer the state debt to the communities,” he says.

At the departmental level, there is also inequality in the allocation of necessary resources.

“We have a million kilometers of roads and only 1% benefit from 99% of toll revenues. We are entitled to a piece of the pie,” says François Durovray, head of mobility at the Association of French Departments (ADF).

While the municipalities and departments must face nearly 12 billion euros of investments for this mission, “the State, the regions (which do not maintain any network) and the highway companies collect the 40 billion euros generated by the route,” states in a statement from the ADF. .

An economic problem, but not only for the spokesperson of the Pilots League:

“Mayors have a lot of difficulties, but the problem is also how the money is spent. How do you do the work? How do you ensure that the work is done well, once it is finished? If you put a new layer of bitumen, that lasts a year very well, but if it is not placed correctly, it will deteriorate very quickly, so there is a real long-term investment problem.

“Verification of compliance with specifications is carried out in the construction of new roads, but much less frequently in the repair of existing ones: once the works are completed, very few audits are carried out,” continues Alexandra Legendre.

Identify problem paths

Faced with this problem, the Drivers League now proposes better reporting on damages such as potholes, speed bumps that are too high, inadequate layouts or inconsistent signage.

The Activ’ Route application “makes it possible to point out dangerous traffic points, document them and transmit them to the local authorities concerned”, can be read on the association’s website.

“We identify the person responsible for the road in question and send them this report: it is beneficial for both the user and the community,” says Alexandra Legendre.

Another interesting initiative is the preparation of a map of the infrastructures most exposed to climate risks and those that must be rehabilitated as a priority, indicates Le Figaro. Works currently carried out by the road network builders’ union Routes de France, in collaboration with the National Federation of Public Works and Météo France.

Next scheduled meeting: the road conference organized in June by the Association of French Departments, in order to reflect on a new economic model for network maintenance.

Given the current state of the roads and the possible arrival of 60-ton megatrucks, it is urgent to act.

Author: Julien Bonnet
Source: BFM TV

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