The French government is determined to reduce the number of accidents on France’s (excellent) road network and has introduced a number of new laws this year.
Most of these don’t apply in the UK, so you may want to read on if you’re planning a quick trip over the Channel in a rented van (or in your car).
Here are some of the main highlights:
- Speed: The speed limit on secondary (‘D’) roads has been cut from 90kph to 80kph. This is equivalent to a reduction from 56mph to 50mph. According to the RAC, drivers could face fines of up to £670 if caught speeding. And EU speeding fines will now follow you back to the UK, so you can’t leave them behind in France.
- Mobile phones: French rules ban the use of any kind of hands-free headset or headphones while driving. If you want to use a handheld mobile to make a call, you must park in a designated parking space and switch the engine off.
- Emergency services: If you need to call the emergency services while in France (or anywhere in the EU) the number to call is 112.
- High viz, warning triangle & breathalyser: When travelling in France you need to carry a high viz vest/jacket for each person in the vehicle. You are also required to carry a warning triangle and an alcohol breathalyser. This must be an approved ‘NF’ type.
- Documents: If you’re in your own vehicle, you will need proof of ownership (V5C) plus current MOT and insurance certificates. If you’re in a hire or fleet vehicle, you’ll need a VE103B ‘vehicle on hire’ certificate to prove you have the owner’s permission to take it out of the UK. Your rental company should provide this if you’ve booked a van to take abroad. If not, ask. You may need to arrange this in advance.
- Glasses: If you’re like me and require glasses for driving, make sure you carry a spare pair with you in the car.
- Low emission zones: Finally, like Germany, France has set up low emissions zones in a number of cities. At the time of writing these include Paris, Lyon and Grenoble. Even if your vehicle is compliant, you’ll still need a Crit’Air vignette to prove it. Otherwise you could be fined. You can find full details of the Cirt’Air scheme here: https://www.crit-air.fr/en.html
These aren’t the only rules that apply to driving in France, but they are among those which might not be familiar to UK drivers. For more comprehensive guide, check out the AA Driving in Europe guide.
You might also want to check out our driving tips for Europe.