French Road Deaths Fall to Post-War Low in Covid Year

A man walks in an empty street during a nationwide confinement to counter the Covid-19, in Bayonne, southwestern France, on Oct. 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)

PARIS (AFP) — Deaths on French roads dropped to their lowest level since World War II last year as Covid-19 restrictions sharply reduced car traffic, the national road safety agency said on Friday.

A total of 2,550 people died on the roads of mainland France, a drop of 21.4% from 2019.

The Securite Routiere agency said the fall was recorded in “exceptional” circumstances brought about by restrictions on movement due to the coronavirus pandemic, which had “a massive impact on road traffic.”

France imposed two lockdowns in 2020, as well as night-time curfews in areas where coronavirus cases were particularly high.

The number of accidents resulting in injury and the number of injured people both fell by around 20%, the agency reported.

In the month of April alone — in the middle of France’s first national lockdown ­— nationwide traffic plunged 75% compared to a typical pre-Covid month.

Overall car deaths fell by more than average in 2020, which the agency said was due to motorists aged over 75 cutting down on trips more than the rest of the population.

But deaths among truck drivers showed little change, as freight traffic continued close to normal levels.

The number of cyclists killed eased back only marginally, which the agency said was due to a sharp rise in the use of bicycles as people switched from public transport to bikes.

The increase in bicycle use was particularly noticeable in nonurban areas where cyclists are more likely to be killed because people tend to drive faster in the countryside, it said.

© Agence France-Presse

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