Tag Archive | "european driving rules"

Watch Out, Les Flics Are About


Yes, it’s that time of year again when our minds turn to thoughts of a summer holiday. It may be that you decide to take a nice motoring trip across the channel on the mysterious continent. Be warned though; they do things differently there.

In Europe since 2013, national police forces and the relevant government departments regularly share the details of motorists who break the rules of the road in other countries. This means that the offended nation can chase offenders, metaphorically speaking, across borders. Thus the personal details of the offender can be requested by foreign agencies.

The UK government decided to opt out of this EU agreement which meant that British motorists who committed a traffic violation in a European country would not get their details passed on by the DVLA, should they be requested based on licence plate data.

All this is about to change. The European Court of Justice has ruled that the bill was incorrectly drafted and should have been included under the road safety directive and not the policing directive. You can see what’s coming can’t you? That’s right – Britain has no opt out of the road safety directive.

This means that British miscreants who offend local laws (no matter how innocently or inadvertently – it‘s the same the whole world over. Guilty regardless.) and are caught on camera can be pursued to their home addresses because the DVLA will slavishly hand over your personal stats. You see, in Europe the car owner is responsible even if they were a hundred miles away. In the UK, the driver at the time is responsible.

This no longer cuts any ice with the Euro-grandees. Offenders will receive a letter – in English – demanding that the penalty demand be answered and the fine paid. Our government will go along with this of course and at least it does have one positive side. Foreign drivers who commit offences here can also be pursued.

Of course, there is no legal UK obligation for drivers to pay. It can simply be ignored but be warned – if you turn up for your summer holiday in the same country where you may have committed an offence previously they will look for you, they will fine and they will impound your car until you cough up the readies. You have been duly warned. Drive safely and carefully in Europe.

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The Pleasures And Differences Of Driving In France


The pleasures of driving are much more enjoyable across the Channel in France than they are in the UK. In the countryside roads can disappear arrow straight to the horizon and in the mountains there are ascents, hairpins and descents to test the handling of any motor. It is only in the large towns that things can become fraught.

There is a rule called Priorité à droite. This is a fiendish way to reduce average traffic speeds and keep a whole battalion of car body repairers in work. Basically it means any vehicle joining a road from the right (roads, driveways, fields, gates, anything you can think of) has priority. On main roads you can see the sign of a yellow diamond; this means you have right of way (unless Pierre has had a large liquid lunch. Which he has). If the diamond has a black bar diagonally across it means Priorité à droite, so stay alert and keep ‘em peeled!

The French Police look intimidating as they all carry guns, but those I have met had at least a few words of English. Your editor have been stopped a couple of times. Each time Les Flics were polite and asked for my ‘permis de conduire’ (driving licence) and insurance. Note: A gym membership card doesn’t work. Another time I was stopped and asked if I had consumed any alcohol. At 10am? ‘Café seulement’, I replied neglecting to add that a stiff drink would help with their stupid rules. Note: If you have motorists coming towards you flashing their headlights it is very likely there is a police patrol ahead they may be doing routine checks or have a radar speed trap set up.

Don’t plan on repairing your own car. DIY motoring is pretty rare, en France. There are few local motor shops and Motor Factors who supply garages and the like and are not used to dealing with the average motorist, especially if his knowledge of automotive technical French is nonexistent. If your French is competent though, they will supply the right part – and then you can do it yourself.

So remember: driving in France is great; plenty of open roads and many, many places to explore, but it’s another country and they do things differently there. You’ll need warning triangles, high-viz jackets (which must be accessible within the cabin) and even a pair of home breathalysers for self testing, although it’s fair to say that, although it is law, the police don’t seem overly concerned.

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