France targets toxic masculinity to reduce traffic fatalities

France’s most recent road safety campaign, there are no lectures on the risks of driving while intoxicated or high, nor are there any “tiredness kills” cautions.

The national road safety agency is instead concentrating on combating toxic masculinity, which it claims is costing lives.

In France, men are responsible for 84 per cent of fatal collisions and 78 per cent of traffic fatalities.

In the country, men make up about 93 per cent of those hurt in incidents involving drunk drivers.

The safety agency, Securite Routiere, said it wants to ‘smash the stereotypes’ that lead men to see their cars and performance behind the wheel as a ‘display to other men of their strength and their physical and social power’.

In the campaign film, a father meets his infant son for the first time in a maternity unit.

He tells his infant son that he can be ‘a sensitive man, a man who cries, a man who knows how to show emotion’.

Florence Guillaume, head of the safety agency, said: “It is urgent to liberate men from the social expectation that incites them to associate virility with risk-taking.”

For the agency’s study group, psychologists discovered that whereas women viewed vehicles primarily as a mode of transportation, males considered driving as defining virility.

Ms Guillaume said the campaign is an urgent attempt to prevent testosterone-fuelled behaviour that leads to fatal collisions.

“We are not out to generalise or stigmatise,” she said. “We can’t leave this reality at the roadside.”

The UK’s accident figures broken down by sex convey a similar message even though there are twice as many traffic deaths in France than in the UK.

According to government statistics, men made up 62 per cent of all casualties and 78 per cent of fatalities in 2021.

Could it be time for the UK to follow France’s lead? Lorna Lee, from the AA Charitable Trust, was enthusiastic, telling the Mail: “This is a fresh take on a well-known issue.

“UK crash statistics have shown for many years that male drivers, especially young male drivers, are disproportionately represented in crashes.”

Adding: “There will be many factors contributing to this including how much driving people are doing, the roads they are driving on and whether or not speed, drink or drugs are involved.

“Road safety campaigns have the greatest impact when they are effectively targeted, as this one is.”

The Department for Transport (DfT) pointed out that their ‘THINK!’ campaign A Mate Doesn’t Let A Mate Drink Drive aimed at young men was launched in 2017, followed by Mates for Life in 2021 which encourages young men to have their friends’ backs and stop them from drink driving by talking about the adventures and friendship they will enjoy over their lives.

A DfT spokesman said: “While Britain’s roads are some of the safest in the world we’re committed to further reducing collisions.

“Our THINK! campaign is specifically targeted at young men who are four times more likely to be killed or seriously injured than drivers over 25.”

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