Sign used denote the start of an Autoroute
Map of French autoroutes in 2012
Map of French autoroutes in 2012

The autoroute (French: [otoʁut] (listen), highway or motorway) system in France consists largely of toll roads (76% of the total). It is a network of 11,882 km (7,383 mi) of motorways as of 2014. On road signs, autoroute destinations are shown in blue, while destinations reached through a combination of autoroutes are shown with an added autoroute logo. Toll autoroutes are signalled with the word péage (toll or toll plaza).

The French autoroute A1
The French autoroute A1
A French motorway.
A French motorway.
Source: Observatoire national interministériel de la sécurité routière.[1]

Length

Network length (Privately managed & national statistics)
Source ASFA.,[2] ASFA 2018;[3] Eurostat (road_if_motorwa serie)

Numbering scheme

Unlike other motorway systems, there is no systematic numbering system, but there is a clustering of Autoroute numbers based on region.

A1, A3, A4, A5, A6, A10, A13, A14, A15, A16 radiate clockwise from Paris with A2, A11, and A12 branching from A1, A10, and A13, respectively. A7 begins in Lyon, where A6 ends. A8 and A9 begin from the A7.

The 20s are found in northern France. The 30s are found in eastern France. The 40s are found near the Alps. The 50s are in the southeast, near the French Riviera. The 60s are found in southern France. The 70s are found in the centre of the country. The 80s are found in western France.

Named routes

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Some of the autoroutes are often given a name, even if these are not very used:

Administration

The status of motorways in France has been the subject of debate through years, from their construction until recently. Originally, the autoroutes were built by private companies mandated by the French government and followed strict construction rules as described below. They are operated and maintained by mixed companies held in part by private interests and in part by the state. Those companies hold concessions, which means that autoroutes belong to the French state and their administration to semi-private companies. Vinci controls around 4,380 km (2,720 mi) of motorway. The different companies are as follows:

Only in the Brittany region do most of the autoroutes belong to the government. They are operated by the regional council and are free from tolls.

Privately managed
Source ASFA[2]

Safety on French autoroutes

Motorway Speed Limits

France has the following speed limits for limited access roads classified as motorways:

Limited access roads classified as express roads have lower speed limit (90 or 110 km/h, 55 or 70 mph).

In normal conditions, there is a minimum speed of 80 km/h (50 mph) in the leftmost lane. There is no minimum speed on the others lanes, however the speed must be adapted to the conditions and not constitute a hazard by being too low.

Safe design

The autoroutes are designed to increase driver safety and allow for higher speed limits (130 km/h or 80 mph) than on regular roads (80 km/h or 50 mph) without increasing the risk of accidents.

Dynamic information panel used on the French Autoroute.
Dynamic information panel used on the French Autoroute.

The safety features include:

Sign indicating a picnic place in an aire de repos.

Safety results

Fatalities on motorways have decreased between 2002 and 2016.

Fatalities
Source ASFA[6] · [7]

Fatalities accidents scenario

On French motorways, in 2016, 121 fatal accidents are direct/initial accidents representing 82% of fatal accidents, 16 (11%) fatal accidents occurs after a previous accident, and 10 (7%) fatal accidents occur after an incident.[7]

Three scenarios catch two-thirds of initial accidents:[7]

Fatalities and accidents remaining factors

Most of fatalities occur by night.

Fatal accident by Light condition Fatal accident cause
Source Sécurité routière[8] Source ASFA[2]

Several factor of accidents are more highly probable by night in proportion to the traffic, although inattentiveness remains risky during the day.

Influence of time on the risk of accident (% of accidents divided by % of traffic)
Source ASFA[7]

Young drivers

Young drivers between 18 and 34 years old represent 19% of motorway drivers, but they are overrepresented in fatal motor vehicle collisions[6] and are involved in more than half of fatal accidents.[6]

Involvement of young drivers in 2016, in fatal accidents
young drivers in dangerous manoeuvre young drivers in inattentiveness young drivers in excessive speeding
Source ASFA[6]

Pedestrians

Although pedestrians are forbidden on motorways in conformity with the Vienna Convention, they are still sometimes killed on motorways.

In case a vehicle on a carriage cannot move, motorways safety rules remains applicable: it is forbidden for a pedestrian to travel on the motorway by article 421-2 from the "Code de la route" law. For this reason, in case of accident or breakdown, it is advised to turn on hazard warning lights, wear high-visibility clothing, and go in a safer place such as the other side from the traffic barrier where there is no traffic. Since 2008, it is clarified that warning triangles are no longer mandatory when they would endanger the driver of the disabled vehicle.[9]

Pedestrians killed in 2016
Place where pedestrians are killed Reason for pedestrian presence
Source ASFA

Economics

Toll barrier in Hordain (north of France), on autoroute A2
Toll barrier in Hordain (north of France), on autoroute A2

The toll roads were granted as concessions to mixed-economy corporations; the free roads are directly administered by the national government. Tolls are either based on a flat-rate for access to the road or on the distance driven. The latter case is the most common for long distances; users take a ticket from an automatic machine when they enter the autoroute, and pay according to the distance when exiting; toll booths accept multiple payment methods.

Sign indicating a péage.

In 2005, the Villepin government proposed a controversial plan to sell all of the state's holdings in autoroute companies to private investors. Critics contend that the price announced is well below the profit forecasts for these companies, and thus that the government sacrifices the future to solve current budgetary problems.[10]

Mode of payment
Source ASFA[2][3]

List of Autoroutes

Number Length (km) Length (mi) Southern or western terminus Northern or eastern terminus Route name Formed Removed Notes
A1 211 131 Paris (Porte de la Chapelle) Lille Autoroute du Nord 01954-01-011954 current Part of E 15 / E 17 / E 19
A2 77.6 48.2 Combles Belgium Part of E 19
A3 18.4 11.4 Paris (Porte de Bagnolet) Gonesse 01969-01-011969 current Part of E 15
A4 482 300 Paris (Porte de Bercy) Strasbourg Autoroute de l'Est 01970-01-011970 current Part of E 25 / E 50
A5 225 140 Vert-Saint-Denis (Seine-et-Marne) Langres 01983-01-011983 current Part of E 17 / E 54
A6 466.3 289.7 Lyon Paris Autoroute du Sud, Autoroute du Soleil 01960-01-011960 current Part of E 15 / E 21 / E 60
A7 312 194 Marseille Lyon Autoroute du Soleil 01951-01-011951 current Part of E 15 / E 80 / E 714
A8 224 139 La Fare-les-Oliviers Italy La Provençale 01961-01-011961 current Part of E 74 / E 80
A9 280 170 Le Perthus Orange La Languedocienne, La Catalane 01960-01-011960 current Part of E 15 / E 80
A10 557 346 Bordeaux Rungis L'Aquitaine 01960-01-011960 current Part of E 5
A11 347 216 Nantes Ponthévrard L'Océane 01966-01-011966 current Part of E 50 / E 60 / E 501
A12 8.5 5.3 Trappes Rocquencourt Autoroute de Bretagne 01950-01-011950 current
A13 226 140 Caen (Porte de Paris) Paris (Porte d'Auteuil) Autoroute de Normandie 01940-01-011940 current Part of E 5 / E 46
A14 21.7 13.5 La Défense Orgeval 01996-01-011996 current
A15 24 15 Gennevilliers Cergy 01974-01-011974 current
A16 319 198 L'Isle-Adam Belgium L'Européenne 01991-01-011991 current Part of E 40 / E 44 / E 401 / E 402
A19 131 81 Orléans (A10 at Artenay) Sens L'Éco Autoroute 01993-01-011993 current Part of E 511
A20 428 266 Montauban Vierzon L'Occitane 01992-01-011992 current Part of E 9
A21 58.9 36.6 Aix-Noulette Douchy-les-Mines Rocade Minière 01971-01-011971 current
A22 15.8 9.8 Villeneuve-d'Ascq Belgium Autoroute du Nord 01972-01-011972 current Part of E 17
A23 42.7 26.5 Lesquin Trith-Saint-Léger 01978-01-011978 current
A24 Amiens Belgium 01980-01-011980 02011-01-012011 Proposed, but never built
A25 62.7 39.0 Lesquin Dunkirk 01963-01-011963 current Part of E 42
A26 395 245 Troyes Calais Autoroute des Anglais 01976-01-011976 current Part of E 15 / E 17 / E 50
A27 13.7 8.5 Lesquin Belgium 01973-01-011973 current Part of E 42
A28 366.5 227.7 Abbeville Tours Autoroute des Estuaires 02005-01-012005 current Part of E 44 / E 402 / E 502
A29 183 114 Le Havre Saint-Quentin 01995-01-011995 current Part of E 44 / E 402
A30 Uckange Crusnes
A31 Beaune Luxembourg
A32 Freyming-Merlebach Germany
A33 Nancy Hudiviller Local autoroute around Nancy
A34 Reims Belgium
A35 Lauterbourg Switzerland (Basel)
A36 Ladoix-Serrigny Germany La Comtoise
A38 Pouilly-en-Auxois Dijon
A39 Dijon Bourg-en-Bresse Autoroute Verte
A40 Mâcon Mont Blanc Tunnel Autoroute Blanche, Autoroute des Titans Part of E62
A41 Switzerland(Geneva) Grenoble
A42 Lyon Bourg-en-Bresse Part of E611
A43 Lyon Italy
A44 Bypassing Lyon to the west
A45 Lyon Saint-Étienne
A46 Anse Givors (bypassing Lyon by east)
A47 Lyon Saint-Étienne Part of E70
A48 Lyon Grenoble
A49 Grenoble Valence
A50 Marseille Toulon
A51 Marseille Grenoble, Val de Durance
A52 A8 A50 Great ring of Marseilles
A54 Nîmes Salon Sud (link with A7)
A55 Martigues Marseille
A56 Link between A54 and A55 from Salon to Fos freight port proposed  
A57 Toulon Vidauban, link with A8
A61 Toulouse Narbonne Autoroute des Deux Mers Part of E80
A62 Bordeaux Toulouse Autoroute des Deux Mers Part of E72
A63 Bordeaux Biriatou Autoroute de la Côte Basque Part of E05/E70
A64 Toulouse Bayonne La Pyrénéenne Part of E80
A65 Bordeaux Pau Part of E7
A66 Toulouse Pamiers Part of E9
A68 Toulouse Albi
A71 Orléans (A10) Clermont-Ferrand (A75) L'Arverne
A72 Saint-Étienne Clermont-Ferrand
A75 Clermont-Ferrand Béziers (A0) La Méridienne
A77 Poligny (A6) Challuy Autoroute de l'Arbre
A81 94.8 58.9 Le Mans Le Gravelle 01982-01-011982 current
A83 152.5 94.8 Nantes Niort 02001-01-012001 current
A84 170.5 105.9 Caen (Porte de Bretagne) Rennes Autoroute des Estuaires 02003-01-012003 current Part of E 3 / E 46 / E 401
A85 270 170 Angers Vierzon 01997-01-011997 current
A86 80.1 49.8 Paris orbital 02009-01-012009 current
A87 129 80 Angers La Roche-sur-Yon 02002-01-012002 current
A88 117.7 73.1 Caen (Porte d'Espagne) Sees 02010-01-012010 current
A89 544 338 Lyon Bordeaux 01991-01-011991 current Part of E 70
A500 A50 Monaco
A507 Ring of Marseilles proposed  
A516 Marseilles Aix-en-Provence
A520 A52 Auriol
A557 One-direction ring of Marseilles downtown

Others

A10 autoroute near Paris
A13 in the outskirts of Caen
A13 in the outskirts of Caen

Radio coverage

The complete coverage map of FM 107.7.
The complete coverage map of FM 107.7.

The FM 107.7 radio coverage is available in 2017 on 8902 kilometres of the (ASFA) network.[3] This is list of highways that are updated in 107.7 FM every 15 minutes, live 24/7 (if the highway is said alone, it means that the station covers all around it):

Sanef 107.7 (1850km)

Nord
Est
Ouest

Autoroute INFO (2487km)

Centre-Est (live from Dijon)
Rhône-Alpes (live from Chambéry)

Environment

99% of the privately managed network is protected by natural fencing.[3]

Privately managed motorways have 1764 wildlife crossing structures.[3]

See also

References

  1. ^ Bilan de l'accidentalité de l'année 2015
  2. ^ a b c d e http://www.autoroutes.fr/FCKeditor/UserFiles/File/ASFA_cles17.pdf[bare URL PDF]
  3. ^ a b c d e http://www.autoroutes.fr/FCKeditor/UserFiles/File/ASFA_Chiffres_Cles18%282%29.pdf[bare URL PDF]
  4. ^ a b "DTecITM- Maintenance" (PDF).
  5. ^ by definition motorways are forbidden to pedestrians
  6. ^ a b c d http://www.autoroutes.fr/FCKeditor/UserFiles/File/Chiffres%20cl%C3%A9s%20accidents%20mortels%202016.pdf[bare URL PDF]
  7. ^ a b c d http://www.autoroutes.fr/FCKeditor/UserFiles/File/Analyse%20des%20accidents%20mortels%20et%20corporels%202016%201.pdf[bare URL PDF]
  8. ^ "État de l'insécurité routière | Observatoire national interministériel de la sécurité routière".
  9. ^ "Gilet et triangle de sécurité".
  10. ^ Press release of 12-14-2005 Archived November 20, 2006, at the Wayback Machine