The Drink Driving Problem In France

If the French government is listening let me put forward this rather important suggestion – you need to have a subsidised taxi service serving all your rural villages in order to stop people drink driving. Villages are small and spread out, lots of homes are on large plots of land in between and the only way people can get over to the next town for a night out or to visit friends is to drink and drive. Public transport doesn’t exist and there are no taxis. The country is so vast, there are so few cars on the roads and the back routes are so numerous that they can’t possibly be policed, and aren’t.

Since I got to France I’ve heard more stories of drink driving accidents and witnessed a much more blasé attitude to it than anyone would ever imagine in England. In England 290 people were killed in drink drive accidents in 2012 – compared to 3,654 in France. And don’t be fooled by the country’s size, it has a similar population to England – 65m compared to 63m. The complete lack of public transport seems countrywide – it was the same when we stayed in Tignes and, although Val d’Isere was just a 10-minute drive away, you couldn’t have a night out there as there was no way back except a very occasional taxi that charged an absolutely extortionate fee. Presumably the huge areas that would need to be covered make buses and taxis uneconomical. But this is definitely something that needs tackling or more lives will be lost.

Everyone has a car in France, but lots of them are old 1950s models you only see in England on period dramas. And many look like they wouldn’t pass an MOT. This could be because in France you only have to have MOTs every 2 years, except if your car is over 30 years old and then it’s every 5 years. The logic of this escapes me – it seems that the older the car and the greater the likelihood of something conking out, the less it needs checking according to the French. All in all I reckon the country’s transport policies are overdue a good MOT themselves.

MG classic car, transport, France
The boyfriend’s car: As old as him but only needs checking over every 5 years – unlike him

6 thoughts on “The Drink Driving Problem In France

  1. Joanne

    I agree. I have been here for 18 months and never seen a bus except for a school bus. France seems to choose what rules they adhere to. I got a speeding ticket for doing 95 on a 90 limit.


  2. Morna Parsons

    Maybe this could be your next money making venture?! Taxikatie?! Really enjoying reading your blog and hope we’ll get to come and sample french life in the not too distant future.xx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sarah Pitman

    Hi Katie, I can totally relate to what you have written about drink driving in France. It seems more socially accepted here, which is crazy considering the statistics you mentioned! I’m 34 and have just moved to France from Australia with my husband and two kids (5 & 3) my husband is a designer for a surf company and his job was transferred to France. We live in Bidart and luckily we have good access to regular public transport. I’ve caught the bus into Biarritz for a night out (1€) and managed to get a taxi home (20€)! But when my husband started work he was told by French locals about the ‘2 gram road’ to drive home on if you have more than 2 grams of alcohol in your blood! Luckily he hasn’t been using it and I’ve been dropping him off if they are having a boozy work function. In Australia drink driving is really frowned upon and not socially accepted, friends will take keys off you if you intend to drink and drive.


    1. Hi Sarah, yes you’re right people know if they go off the main roads and take certain back roads they won’t be caught, and it does seem that it’s socially acceptable. They government hasn’t successfully changed the culture as they have in England, and presumably Australia, with big campaigns and shock tactics. In England it’s as you describe in Aus, very much frowned on, but also with a smaller country and less roads to police you know there’s a good chance of being caught.


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