As the excitement increases ready for the commencement of Euro 2016 on Friday of this week plenty of Brits will be getting ready to travel to France to watch the football.  England’s first game is on Saturday against Russia at the Stade Vélodrome in Marseille and it is anticipated that a high number will be planning to drive across the Channel in preparation.

How is Driving in France Different?

However, the rules and regulations for driving in France differ quite significantly to driving in the UK and so it is important that you are prepared in advance. Ruth Peters, specialist motoring solicitor, considers the main things you need to know before starting your drive.

Ten Top Tips for Driving to Euro 2016:

  1. Drive on the right. This sounds obvious as we all know that driving in France is “on the other side of the road”. However, it is easy to get confused especially at roundabouts and traffic lights so try and take your time and consider turns and approaches to roundabouts carefully.
  2. Make sure you’re old enough to drive. Although you can drive at 17 in England and Wales you have to be 18 to drive in France.
  3. Be familiar with the French emergency services number. The number to dial in the event of any emergencies in France is 112 and we would suggest that you programme this into your mobile phone so that you don’t forget it.
  4. Know what you need to have in your vehicle. There are specific regulations in France and there are a number of things that you need to have in your vehicle. You should ensure that you carry the following; a high visibility vest or jacket, a warning triangle, spare lightbulbs, headlamp beam deflectors (depending on your vehicle you either need deflector stickers or should adjust the beam manually), European plates or a GB sticker on your registration plate and an unused breathalyser. Whilst it still remains a requirement to have an unused breathalyser within your vehicle, the fine for not having one has been postponed indefinitely but you should still carry one.
  5. Check your insurance before you travel abroad. All car insurance policies are different and the only way you know if you are covered is by checking fully the small print of your policy. We would always advise reading your policy in full and if you still remain confused, contact your insurance company to clarify any points.
  6. Know your speed limits. Speed limits in France are stated in kilometres per hour (KPH) as opposed to miles per hour (MPH) . Make sure you are familiar with the national speed limits and remember that French legislation prohibits drivers from using devices capable of detecting speed cameras and warning drivers of their location. The penalties for use of the same can include a fine of up to 1500 Euros together with confiscation of the device and vehicle. This has also been extended to include GPS systems capable of displaying fixed speed camera locations as points of interest.
  7. Be familiar with toll roads. Tolls are levied on most French motorways and will need to be paid. They can either be paid by cash or with the majority of credit cards. Debit cards are generally not accepted.
  8. Know the drink drive limit. The drink drive limit is different to the English limit. The limit in France is 50mg of alcohol per 100 mls of blood as opposed to the English limit of 80mg of alcohol per 100mls of blood. However, if you are a new driver or have recently passed your driving test within the last three years the level is much lower and is 20mg of alcohol per 11mls of blood. There are also different limits for commercial drivers. We would always advise that the only safe amount of alcohol to drink is none as it is impossible to accurately predict what your alcohol level will be.
  9. Ensure you have all the correct documentation with you in your vehicle. In addition to your photo card driving licence, we would always advise keeping your insurance certificate within the vehicle together with proof of ownership of the vehicle i.e. the V5 document (also known as the log book) and you should of course have your passport with you as well. If your vehicle requires an MOT we would advise taking a paper copy of this with you in addition.
  10. Be aware of on the spot fines. French Police Authorities often impose on the spot fines for minor offences. In more serious cases the Police can confiscate vehicles for offences such as exceeding the speed limit by over 40KPH, driving without a licence or driving without insurance to name just a few.

Ruth Peters – Specialist Motoring Solicitor

Written by Ruth Peters. Ruth is a specialist motoring solicitor at Olliers Motorlaw. Should you require advice or assistance in relation to any motoring offence please do not hesitate to contact us on 0808 1680017.

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