Road safety knows no borders, and government officials in France and Québec share a commitment to do all they can to prevent road fatalities. Significant efforts have been deployed in this area over the past few years on both sides of the Atlantic. Some of these initiatives fall squarely under the heading of France-Québec cooperation.
Efforts deployed by France have reduced the number of road casualties by half, from 8,000 in 2002 to fewer than 4,000 in 2010. France has set itself the ambitious target of limiting road casualties to under 3,000 in 2012.
Awareness campaigns have also helped reduce road deaths in Québec. The number of deaths in 2007 was 608 — down 15.7% compared with the previous year. The Québec government wants to reduce the number of fatalities by 30% by 2012.
These positive results are due in part to close collaboration between France and Québec, under a road safety cooperation project launched in the middle of the last decade at the initiative of the Ministère des Transports du Québec (MTQ).
The project brings together the following Québec partners:
• Sûreté du Québec (SQ)
• Montréal police department
• Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ)
They are joined by the following French partners:
• Ministry of the Interior
• Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development, Transportation and Housing
• Institut français des sciences et technologies des transports, de l'aménagement et des réseaux (IFSTTAR)
• Centre d'études sur les réseaux, les transports, l'urbanisme et les constructions (CERTU)
Two road transportation and safety agreements signed in 2008 provide a framework for innovation and prevention.
The project partners are involved in a variety of initiatives in France and Québec. In 2009 and 2010 they took part in two international symposiums attended by close to 200 road safety experts, held as part of Les Entretiens du Centre Jacques Cartier, an annual series of talks held in France and Québec. The symposiums revolved around the themes “La ville en toute sécurité” (“Safe cities”) and “Les Journées francophones de sécurité routière” (“Francophone road safety days”).
Collaboration between France and Québec has helped identify some of the factors that lead people to resist behaviour changes. By comparing their findings and tapping into each other’s best practices, France and Québec have been able to enhance their efforts and create more effective awareness campaigns.
Spectacular results in France thanks to an automatic speed-monitoring and traffic-fine program inspired Québec to deploy a pilot project featuring photo-radar and traffic light cameras, and the French are thinking of following the example of the Québec Highway Safety Code by adding the word “Safety” to the name of their own traffic legislation.
Facilitated by support from a France-Québec cooperation committee, the Commission permanente de coopération franco-québécoise (CPCFQ), this cooperation illustrates the benefits of drawing inspiration from practices elsewhere in the world. Joint efforts in France and Québec have contributed to better road safety governance in both jurisdictions. They have had an impact on traffic accident figures and saved lives. In the future, France and Québec plan to work together on awareness campaigns targeting drivers in both the Old and New Worlds.
The CPCFQ is the main instrument for coordinating cooperation between the governments of Québec and France. It is responsible for implementing a joint two-year program of cooperation activities in a wide array of areas, including research and innovation, culture, education and sustainable development.
Operation Red Nose spawns similar initiatives
Since its creation in Québec in 1984, Opération Nez rouge (Operation Red Nose) has driven 1,579,614 people home, free-of-charge, across Canada. Provided by volunteers, mainly during the Holiday Season, the service is designed for people who have consumed alcohol or feel unable to drive themselves home after an evening out. Inspired by the Québec program, France deployed its own “Red Nose” initiative in 1991.
More recently, France launched a campaign dubbed “Pas de bonnes soirées sans Sam” (“No fun evenings without Sam”), aimed at young people. An average of 17 youths between the ages of 18 and 24 die in traffic accidents in France each week. Alcohol is a factor behind 37.6% of these deaths and 19.2% of hospitalizations of young people in this age group.
“Sam” is the designated driver. Young people are advised to choose someone to stay sober and drive them safely home. Seventy-two percent of young people claim that they designate someone to play this role. The practice is more frequent outside Paris (63%) than in the French capital (41%). Young people get the message, but it needs to be repeated, to increase awareness of “Sam” and encourage designated drivers. In 2009, 71% of the young people polled said they were willing to play the role of Sam, compared with 80% in 2008.
Ministère des Transports du Québec
Cooperation between France and Québec
Sam, the designated driver
Road safety (French government)