August marks the 20th anniversary of the tragic death of Princess Diana. What many people are not aware of, however, is how Di’s tragic death in a Paris tunnel in 1997 significantly changed the driving landscape in France, and significantly reduced the number of car accidents.
After the accident in a Paris tunnel in 1997, French investigators came to the conclusion that the accident was the result of unsafe and dangerous driving practices. In 2002, the French government signed a number of new laws that were specifically designed to help reduce the incidence of unsafe driving. As a result of those laws, traffic accident fatalities in the country actually dropped by as much as one-third. This is a substantial reduction. According to Statista, the United States had 6.3 million car accidents in 2015. Therefore, if the United States was able to achieve a similar outcome, this would result in 2.1 million fewer car accidents each year.
In the new study, researchers claim that France’s decision to enact traffic safety laws in the aftermath of the tragic and high-profile death significantly improved traffic safety in that country, and may have helped save many lives. In fact, the study suggests that thousands of French lives could possibly have been saved as a result of these legal changes that were enacted. French road fatalities in the decades after the fatal crash fell by as much as 30% on an average, compared with an average of 15% in the United States.
Some of those laws might still have been enacted even if the death had not occurred, but the researchers believe that the death of Princess Di, and all the publicity and controversy surrounding it, definitely helped to spur support for the traffic safety legislation. Unfortunately, it often takes a tragic event, such as the death of a famous person in a car accident, to raise public awareness sufficiently to allow for these type of legal changed.
It is not 100% certain that those stricter French laws that significantly reduced dangerous driving were directly responsible for the reduced traffic accident fatalities in the years after Diana’s death, but the researchers say that the French example provides a very strong model and example for other countries that want to enact similar laws. What is also interesting is that the French government enacted legislation related to lower speed limits, photo radar, and random alcohol testing, in spite of the fact that measures like these were unpopular with the public and despite the fact that traffic safety was far from a glamorous, vote-getting political tool.
In the United States, similar popular opinion and public demand has spurred legislation, including laws against cell phone use while driving, and laws promoting seatbelt usage. But many other necessary legislative changes, including limits on speeds and random alcohol testing, continue to remain elusive. If States, cities and counties would simply implement common sense traffic laws, the number of car accidents would very likely decline, saving a significant number of persons from severe injuries and death.
The Atlanta car accident lawyers at the Katz Law Firm represent persons who were injured as a result of car accidents in the metro Atlanta region and across Georgia. If your loved one has suffered injuries in an accident, get in touch with an attorney at our firm.