French drivers are asked to light up

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The Independent Online

French motorists will be encouraged to drive with their headlights on during the day from 30 October, as an experiment to improve road safety.

French motorists will be encouraged to drive with their headlights on during the day from 30 October, as an experiment to improve road safety.

The advisory measure will apply outside urban areas for a test period of six months. If it proves effective it will be adopted permanently.

The French Transport Minister, Gilles de Robien, believes that making cars more conspicuous could reduce the death toll on French roads, saving up to 300 lives a year. A similar measure has been introduced in Hungary and the Netherlands.

French motorcyclists are already obliged to drive with dipped headlights in daytime.

The Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (French Angry Motorcyclists Union) has denounced the measure, saying that motorists will no longer be able to distinguish motor-bikes from cars at distance. The Fédération des Automobiles-Clubs (a French car drivers' union) has welcomed the innovation.

The experiment is part of a series of new measures to improve safety on French roads. The government has also decided to lower the alcohol limit for bus drivers from 0.5 grams a litre to 0.2 grams a litre.

France will in future calculate road deaths based on the number of people who die within 30 days of an accident, instead of six days, which brings the country in line with other European nations.

The French President, Jacques Chirac, declared that road safety was a national priority when he came to office for his second presidential mandate two years ago.

His policies seem to be working. The death toll on French roads in June was 27.4 per cent down on last year.

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