Buy

Books
Click images for more details

Support

 

Twitter
Recent comments
Recent posts
Currently discussing
Links

A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

Powered by Squarespace

Discussion > Fench driving.

SandyS posted the following on 'unthreaded':

Martin A
As a resident in France I suspect that like me you'll have theories as to why the death toll om French roads is so high. To an expat the standard of driving is pretty poor.

My theories are
1. They have to be the car in front, which means passing at dangerous points in the road
2. They follow too close behind, which makes 1 even more dangerous
3. Tree lined roads.
4. Drink driving
5. Toll Motorways cause the RN and departmental roads to be busier than they might otherwise be.

stewgreen
I can only speak from experience, and I haven't seen any abuse exchanged between cyclists and other road users. .In fact the reverse, on several occasions I've stopped my bike to look at something in the fields, see what the text was, have 5 minutes breather and have a car/tractor stop and ask if I was OK. On Sunday I was having a drink and chocolate biscuit in a bus shelter and someone came out of their house to check I was OK. So yes I do think cyclists and motorists co-exist better here.

The only time I can remember a car passing me then turning down a side road in front of me in a single action was by a British registered car (probably untaxed and with no MOT). Perhaps that's why I remember it.

Cycling has been a leisure activity in France on Sundays, Wednesdays (round here anyway) and Jours fériés. Of course in rural France cyclists are just one of many hazards.
Dec 6, 2016 at 8:25 AM SandyS

Dec 6, 2016 at 10:04 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Martin A
As a resident in France I suspect that like me you'll have theories as to why the death toll om French roads is so high. To an expat the standard of driving is pretty poor.

My theories are
1. They have to be the car in front, which means passing at dangerous points in the road
2. They follow too close behind, which makes 1 even more dangerous
3. Tree lined roads.
4. Drink driving
5. Toll Motorways cause the RN and departmental roads to be busier than they might otherwise be.

Sandy S.

Yes, my observation is that French drivers are considerate towards cyclists. Cycling, even though hardly anyone does it now, is part of the French culture. My impression is that cyclists are admired.

French motorists are also very considerate towards pedestrians in towns and in car parks.

Yes, French driving is universally considered poor by Brits. Yet driver training has to be done by (expensive) professionals and the test is apparently very difficult to pass.

A lot of what Brits consider rude or bad driving is just what seems be the norm. Overtaking on a motorway then immediately braking to exit via a slip road.

It's noteworthy that French driving is noticeably worse for cars with:
- "A" sticker (newly qualified driver) in the rear window
- "75" (=Paris) number plate.

1. They have to be the car in front, which means passing at dangerous points in the road
Yes, French drivers detest being behind a car, even if they don't actually want to run any faster. On a two week trip to Britain, I will typically be overtaken two or three times (on non dual-carriageway/motorway roads) while there. On a trip to the local French Supermarket, I will typically be overtaken two or three times on the way to the supermarket.

2. They follow too close behind, which makes 1 even more dangerous
Not unusual to see a vehicle about 2m behind another in the fast lane on the motorway.

3. Tree lined roads.
Splat.

4. Drink driving
Probably.

5. Toll Motorways cause the RN and departmental roads to be busier than they might otherwise be
Some RN's are downright dangerous. Especially those leading to Paris.

In addition:


- Young drivers in France seem specially bad. I know several French families who have lost a son or daughter in car crashes accidents.

- Road markings are in non-reflective, rapidly wearing paint (including on motorways). The markings can become literally (I mean literally) invisible at night in rain.

- Many country roads not quite wide enough for two vehicles to pass have no centre markings. That must result in accidents, particularly at night.

- The 'priority to right' rule must result in many accidents. I have been in near misses with experienced French drivers at the wheel. Having two rules ('priority to major road' and 'priority to right', sometimes in the same village, is just mad.

- Gendarme speed traps are set up where there are easy pickings (eg a long straight slip road with a 50 kmph limit immediately on leaving a 110 kmph dual carriageway). Or just before the delimit sign at the exit from a town. Rather than where speeding is dangerous.

- French motorists generally comply with speed limits. But they will normally run at the legal limit irrespective of whether it is a safe speed in the prevailing circumstances.

- I wonder if the greater distances between urban centres in France results in longer emergency service response times with lower survival probability. Just guessing.

Overall, I suspect it is a cultural thing with differing perceptions of what are/what are not reasonable and acceptable risks. I attended a driver safety brush up recently provided by an insurance company. It was all about the formal rules (which lane to take at a roundabout etc) - nothing about risks, overtaking, appropriate speeds, etc.

Dec 6, 2016 at 10:20 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Wasn't it Napoleon who directed that roads be lined with trees to provide shelter for marching troops? But Sir, an aide said, it will take years for them to grow. Precisely, replied Napoleon, so the sooner you start planting the better.

Dec 6, 2016 at 10:31 AM | Unregistered Commentermike fowle

Martin A

- Many country roads not quite wide enough for two vehicles to pass have no centre markings. That must result in accidents, particularly at night.

I know several people with vans/people carrier who've lost wing mirrors

- Road markings are in non-reflective, rapidly wearing paint (including on motorways). The markings can become literally (I mean literally) invisible at night in rain.

Yes can be a nightmare, on the otherhand repairs and resurfacing are very quick, including the white lining. Matter of a few days to replace several km of tarmac including removal of old, relaying and whitelining by the Limousin road crews.

Another problem for two wheels is the use of gravillon for minor roads, There are at least two issues the original laying results in loose gravel in the middle and at the edge of roads, then in summer the tar melts the gravel comes off unevenly leaving a very poor surface.
I suspect the lack of overtaking in the UK is down to the higher density of traffic, it's not worthwhile even trying most of the time.

Dec 6, 2016 at 10:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

- Many country roads not quite wide enough for two vehicles to pass have no centre markings. That must result in accidents, particularly at night.

And just the fact that it is normal to have roads too narrow for two vehicles to pass in itself is a risk factor.

It is considered normal to run on the verge to pass another vehicle. To the extent that if the verges have been worked on, you'll see "remblai recent" warning signs.

Dec 6, 2016 at 10:50 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

The start of this was @SandyS comment
"Here in rural France cyclists and motor drivers seem to coexist quite well, including peletons and combine harvesters."

and me pointing out the cyclist death stats for France are about 2.5 times more than the UK.

Frances More sunny days might mean more cyclists in summer
more snowy days in winter will mean less cyclists in winter.
Could it be that cycling is a leisure activity in Italy and maybe France, but a commuter activity in UK
Do French school kids go by bike ?
and what about the French lawnmower cars which you don't need licence for ?

Dec 6, 2016 at 11:31 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

The trooper came upon the scene of a one car roll-over with four of the five occupants, a family out for drive, laid out cold but alive. The fifth was the family's pet monkey, scampering among the ruins. The trooper pointed to the man and asked the monkey what he was doing when the wreck happened. The monkey lifted his hand to his mouth and mimed drinking from a bottle. The trooper pointed to the woman and asked about her. The monkey set his head aslant upon his two hands, eyes closed. The trooper indicated the two children, a boy and a girl; the monkey formed fists with his hands and sparred the air. The trooper then pointed to the monkey in query, and the monkey lifted his two gripped hands and made great wild semicircles in the air.

Dec 6, 2016 at 1:39 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Do French school kids go by bike ?
To school? I think it happens but very rarely.


and what about the French lawnmower cars which you don't need licence for ?
I heard their insurance is immensely expensive (presumably for those without a licence). If so, then that probably says something about the risks.

Dec 6, 2016 at 3:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

Martin A

I defer to your greater knowledge on the subject, but as for "French motorists are also very considerate towards pedestrians in towns" - in my experience not when said pedestrians are trying to cross a road using a zebra crossing. I don't know why they have them in France, since in my limited experience they seem to be universally ignored!

Dec 6, 2016 at 7:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterMark Hodgson

Mark - I can't say much about French zebra crossings (except that I don't have the impression that they are universally ignored). What happens in large towns may be very different from small towns.

Several times I have seen a French car driver stop to let someone (who already had stepped into the road) cross, and nowhere near a zebra.

Dec 7, 2016 at 8:16 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

The trooper strolled up alongside the cab of the F-!00 belonging to the good ole boy he'd just pulled over and asked 'Got any ID?' The driver thought for a long moment before responding 'About what?'
===============

Dec 7, 2016 at 11:14 AM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Heh, exclaiming faster than a speeding mark.
==========

Dec 7, 2016 at 11:16 AM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Mark Hodgson
I think the rules on Pedestrian Crossings in France work on a different principle to the UK. I haven't actually asked anyone French but I think that the system is that pedestrians don't start crossing until the road is clear, and drivers are under no obligation to stop. Once there is someone on the crossing my observations suggest that the traffic has to stop. Certainly it confuses people round here if you stop to let them get on the crossing.

There is a similar issue with traffic light "green man" on side road crossings. As a pedestrian you can have a green at the same time as traffic has green on the main road, this includes traffic turning right (UK left). Theoretically the pedestrians have right of way but it can catch an unwary Briton out.

The other one is the flashing amber turn right arrow on lights. You can turn but be careful and watch out for someone being in the roadway. This might help speed traffic flows in the UK for turning left at lights.

Dec 7, 2016 at 1:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

..(I suggested that for me headphones are safer than the distractions of road noise and wind
The main point is that people in cars are no more aware of noise.
And that cycle slower speed allows cyclists much more time to spot problems and react.

Generally anti-headphone ..reeks of an over simplistic magic solution.)

Sandy replied :
Personally when looking for somewhere or in a situation where concentration is required I turn the radio/music off, as you do. But familiar routes at busy times require high levels of concentration, familiarity breeding contempt and listening to music or whatever adds to the problem.
... (hmm not sure about London..but on a roundabout it works fine for me)

I recall reading somewhere that in India and other places where drivers sound their horns a lot the noise helps locate vehicles which cannot be seen. This would apply to a lesser extent to normal road noise for cyclists.
...(yeh well normal volume doesn't block out horns at all ..it's the same as ear defenders , background hum is washed out but bigger sounds are audible)

Is there a difference between listening to a podcast requiring full attention and listening to a voicemail on loudspeech that different?
... (The science is that mobile phone conversations lead to activating the "scenario visualisation brain circuits" that you really need for driving ..and other activities don't)

I guess that data on the percentage of cyclists who listen on headphones compared with the percentage involved in an RTA who were listening to something on headphones.
.. (There is no clear data apparently when I checked this morning)

I don't listen to audio books when driving because i go through (at least) three stages of listening, taking in what I'm listening to, switching it off mentally whilst concentrating, third finding it intrusive and switching it off to concentrate. At stage three those who know me well know not the expect an answer if they say anything. So I miss large chunks of a book, listening to USB Stick music or radio it doesn't matter if I miss whole tracks or half a programme.
.. (yes heavy concentration stuff is not suitable) (podcasts you can switch off or listen to again quite easily)

I know quite a few people who drive without audio input other than normal conversation. Perhaps it is down to the individual as much as anything else.
...(The difference in a passenger talking is that they shut up when you need to concentrate ..but sometimes you do need to tell them ..and you are better off with music to keep kids quiet rather then yapping/fighting
I can't drive in town with the radio on , I can cycle tho..in a car I listen to radio only on the cruising roads.)

Dec 7, 2016 at 10:12 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

This is what I posted prior to SandyS :

I'm going to argue that headphones are safer.

I need to focus on the spot in front of me and the acres of street noise is a distraction.
Your car is basically a sound proof pod.
Listening to a podcast involves a different part of my brain.
Tha'ts fine especially if you are on a familiar route.
Now if you are trying to find a friends house for the first time and thinking about the party, that's different and I unplug the headphones .

I recall in studies a problem is the brain can become under occupied and then you get mind wondering and daydreams so you end using the "imagine scenario" part of brain you need to predict hazards.

Dec 7, 2016 at 10:36 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

That last bit I think was mentioned on the radio 4 medical neurology prog when talking about cellphones and driving and the idea you need o be 100% free from distraction.

Dec 8, 2016 at 2:55 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen