There are no lectures on the dangers of drink and drug-driving or ‘tiredness kills’ warnings in France’s latest road safety campaign.
Instead, the national road safety agency is focusing on tackling toxic masculinity, which it says is costing lives.
Men cause 84 per cent of fatal accidents in France and account for 78 per cent of those killed on the roads.
Some 93 per cent of people involved in drink-driving accidents in the country are men.
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’.
The campaign video is set in a maternity ward where a father meets his newborn son for the first time.
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.’
Psychologists who ran a study group for the agency found that driving defined virility for men whereas women mainly saw cars as a means of transport.
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.’
Although road fatalities are twice as high in France as in Britain, the UK’s accident statistics broken down by sex hold a similar message.
In 2021, 78 per cent of fatalities and 62 per cent of casualties of all severities were men, according to government data.
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.’