FRANCE'S SPEED LIMITS : Maybe contentious speed-limit reduction is in actual fact, one very great model for others.

From this July 1st, the limit on single-carriageway rural roads will be reduced from 90 kph. The government maintains that this will save 300-400 lives  a year. But opinion amid the pastis and the  boules is solidly against the reduction.

The decision is no Jupiterian decree, imposed arbitrarily by the powers in Paris on resentful rurals.

Humanity's love of speed needs to be tampered by considerations of  safety and pollution. So the government sets the cost of reducing the speed limit on various sorts of roads against the benefits, and found-

That the sums came out in favor of  lower limit.

Such cost-benefit  analyses may seem cold-hearted. They involve putting a price on life and balancing against time gained.

But France is right to make a decision involving such trade-offs . *Would that other countries were so rational.*

Getting their kicks : Because the road deaths have neither much annual variation nor a politically interesting cause, they get little attention. Yet they are still the  world's largest and eighth  biggest cause of death.

Even in rich countries, where they are in long-term decline, they remain significant. That is particularly true in America, where 40, 327 people died on the roads in 2016, around the same number are were killed by breast cancer.

Road deaths have fallen more slowly in America than in the rest of the rich world - by less in percentage terms between 1972 and 2011 than in any of the other 25 countries studied in a paper in  American Journal of Public Health.

Had they fallen as fast as in the top seven performers, America would have avoided 20,000 deaths a year.


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