Driving in France is changing. None of the plus points in my previous post have changed, but regulations to ensure public safety are coming into force this year.
Here is a brief summary of the points which holidaymakers should be aware.
Control of speed.
Radar detectors have been illegal for some time, but now radar warnings on satnav equipment are also illegal. New systems will not include this facility, but it will be necessary to update existing ones systems so this information is no longer available. The non-technologically inclined driver may find difficult to disengage this function although the website for our own Garmin was very helpful.
For the police, enforcing the new law will not be an easy task particularly as many vehicles now come with embedded software systems.
Nonetheless, the penalty for the new offence is steep – a fine of up to 1500 € and the loss of up to 6 points on a driver’s licence.
Using a mobile phone whilst driving.
The fine has been increased for using a telephone whilst driving to 135 € and the loss of 3 points on your licence. (The French systems deducts points rather than adds them!)
Straying on to the hard shoulder
The principal cause of drivers staring on to the hard shoulder is driver fatigue and up till now, straying temporarily into the emergency lane on autoroutes in France was not an offence. Under pressure from autoroute companies anxious for the safety of their workforces, the French government has introduced a new offence, effectively clipping the hard shoulder, for which the penalty will be 135 €. Also, the existing fine for driving on the hard shoulder on French autoroutes increases from 35 € to 135 €.
Motorcyclists – high viz clothing and number plate requirements
Motorcyclists riding a motor-bike with an engine capacity exceeding 125 c.c. must wear a reflective garment. The French Department of Transport has still to define the criteria for reflective garments and the measure compelling motor-cyclists on French roads to wear something hi-viz will not come into effect before 1st January 2013. In the case of non-compliance, the offender would be liable to a fine of 68 € with a 2 point licence deduction.
There is also an alteration to the law concerning non-conforming number plates which applies to all road-users but especially bikers. The penalty for driving with a non-conforming plate increases from 68 € to 135 €. The Ministry of Transport will also introduce a new regulation concerning the size of registration plates carried by motor-bikes with the aim of making motor bikes more identifiable, especially if flashed by a speed camera.
Local authorities have already begun to introduce on-board driver’s breath testing equipment on French school buses and such equipment will become mandatory in all vehicles in July 2012. Breathalysers will be for sale in supermarkets.
Subsequently to writing this article, The Daily Mail has published a very useful article summarising what you should be aware of.