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Automotive demagogy against road safety


En matters of road safety and the environment too, bad choices result in a number of deaths. This truth, less widely accepted than with regard to health, should be borne in mind by politicians in a country, France, where each year the road kills more than 3,000 people and leaves more than of 3,000 others. The Council of State, giving two months, Thursday 1er June, to the government to take the decree implementing the technical control of motorized two-wheelers, only highlights the reluctance of the executive to materialize a decision intended to protect the environment and save lives.

Seemingly harmless, the measure was deemed so politically inflammable that the President of the Republic announced its non-application in August 2021, the day after the publication of the decree intended to put it in place. “Now is not the time to bother the French”, Emmanuel Macron then decided a few months before the presidential campaign, drawing inspiration from a formula from one of his predecessors, Georges Pompidou. In July 2022, a new decree translated the presidential choice.

No convincing arguments

But, three months later, the Council of State, seized by three associations campaigning for air quality and road safety, had canceled this last text to “excess of power” and reinstated the decree of 2021. The magistrates had in particular drawn argument from “the particularly high road mortality of French two-wheeler drivers” compared to other categories and neighboring countries. In fact, while motorized two-wheelers account for less than 2% in road traffic, nearly one in four deaths is one of their users. However, since the judgment of October 2022, the government has again turned a deaf ear, prompting a new summary appeal, favorably received on Thursday by the Council of State, enjoining it to issue the implementing decree. .

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Environmental protection and road safety should constitute “great national causes” supported by sustainable strategies, explained and debated, sheltered from demagogic temptations. However, neither the renunciation of the national standard of 80 km / h on secondary roads, defended by the former Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, nor the decision of the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, to remove the sanctions for “small” speeding tickets have been convincingly justified.

Moreover, the obligation of periodic inspection of motorized two-wheelers results from a European directive of 2014. By reluctant to apply it under pressure from the biker lobby, Emmanuel Macron and the Minister of Transport, Clément Beaune, fuel the speeches that see the “stranglehold of Brussels” behind each binding decision and denounce the “government of judges” at each call to order. A paradox for two openly pro-European personalities.

At a time when, at the head of the executive, we are worried about a “process of decivilization”, why not consider that the behavior of citizens in their use of individual modes of transport is precisely, through respect for others, the health and life of each, one of the markers of our civility? As for the arguments on the restriction of freedoms, it suffices to recall the endless controversies, a few decades ago, on the obligation to wear seat belts or child protection devices in cars, to put them into perspective.

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