80 km/h speed limit on rural single carriageways

Final evaluation report: Cerema publishes the final assessment of the impact of the measure, 2 years after its implementation.

Cerema, which carries out the evaluation in collaboration with ONISR and Gustave Eiffel University (formerly Ifsttar), monitors the impact of this measure on speeds, accidents, journey times and user perceptions. A socio-economic assessment has also been carried out. Since 1 July 2018, the speed limit on two-way roads outside built-up areas (without central separation) has been 80 km/h.

The Covid-19 pandemic severely disrupted travel in France from March 2020, both in terms of volume and structure, and compromised the collection of speed data for the first half of 2020. This context led to a 20-month assessment of the accident rate, i.e. from July 2018 to February 2020.

The Inter-ministerial Road Safety Committee of 9 January 2018 decided to reduce the speed limit from 90 km/h to 80 km/h on two-way roads, without a central separator, outside urban areas. This measure was effectively implemented as of July 1, 2018. Only the overtaking slots of the 3-lane sections remain limited to 90 km/h if they are signalled.

The road safety delegation has entrusted Cerema, in conjunction with ONISR and Ifsttar, with the evaluation of the measure to reduce the speed limit to 80 km/h on the two-way road network outside urban areas. A traffic observation system has been set up on the territory, with sensors that make it possible to analyse the speeds in circulation but also the spacing between vehicles, heavy goods vehicles or light vehicles. Other Cerema teams are studying travel times, environmental impact (pollution-noise), and socio-cultural change. Accident monitoring and analysis is carried out via the national road accident file, in collaboration with ONISR.

Monitoring the effect of the 80 km/h measure

On 31 May 2020, the ONISR published the final results of the accident in 2019 (labelled indicators). The monitoring of mortality by type of network is therefore now based on the final 2019 results, and estimated 2020.

The monitoring of the number of fatalities over 12 months on a sliding scale shows the evolution of trends between networks outside built-up areas, excluding motorways, and other networks (motorways and roads in built-up areas):

Speed distributions on roads with a 80 km/h speed limit since 1 July 2018 (source Cerema)

The 50 monitoring points spread over the territory are located on sections of roads without constraints (away from radars, bends, in free-flowing traffic) in order to observe speeds freely practiced by road users. 143 million vehicle passages have been recorded from June 2018 to December 2019.

From the first day of July 2018, which was a Sunday, average speeds fell sharply, as shown by the daily monitoring of average speeds in June and July 2018:

As per the monthly speed distribution, its curve changed abruptly between June and July 2018, then remained stable between July and November 2018. Between November 2018 and December 2019, it shifted slightly to the right. However, the speed distribution remains far from the June profile, which corresponded to the 90 km/h speed limit. There is therefore always a safety gain associated with the new speed limit.

Car speeds distributions between June 2018 (90 km/h speed limit) and July 2018 to December 2019 (80 km/h speed limit)

Final report on the impact of 80 km/h speed limit (by Cerema, published July 2020)

After the first results published in January 2019, July 2019 and January 2020, Cerema publishes a final report two years after implementation of the measure : 

  • 2018 and 2019 final fatality results, 2020 estimated results by ONISR : comparison to the 5-year average 2013-2017

349 lives were spared on the non-motorway network outside built-up areas during the first 20 months of the measure (July 2018-February 2020) :

Conversely, the rest of the network (motorways and roads in built-up areas) witnessed 48 more fatalities than the 2013-2017 reference annual average.

Cerema notes that the measure had no impact on the overall number of injury accidents, which remained equivalent to the reference period, but had an effect on their severity :

- the fatality rate on the non-motorway network outside built-up areas fell from 15.2 fatalities per 100 accidents over the reference period to 13.7 fatalities in 2019, a decrease of 10% ;

- this phenomenon is not observed in the rest of the network, which, with a fatality rate of 2.9 fatalities per 100 accidents in the reference period and 3.1 in 2019, saw a 1% increase in accident severity.

  • real speeds measured up to December 2019 : compared to June 2018, light vehicles have driven in average -3,5 km/h slower, and HGV -1,8km/h slower