Road safety charity the IAM is offering weekly motoring tips from Britain’s top advanced driver, Peter Rodger. This week, he is giving some essential advice to those driving in France this summer. Every year, around 17 million British nationals visit France, many by car.1  Here are the IAM’s top tips to ensure you’re on the right side of the law:

  • In France all drivers and motorcyclists (excluding mopeds) need to carry a breathalyser kit, with two disposable breathalysers. The breathalyser must meet the NF standards (similar to the BSI here in the UK) and carry an NF certification. The French government have indefinitely cancelled the fine for non compliance but you still have to have one.
  • Remember too, that the drink drive limit in France is lower than in the UK, 50mg compared to 80mg per 100ml of blood. If you’re driving, don’t drink, and beware the morning after effect.
  • On-the-spot fines or ‘deposits’ in France are severe. An official receipt should always be issued. Vehicles parking contrary to regulations may be towed away and impounded.
  • Holders of EU driving licenses exceeding the speed limit by more than 40 km/h will have their licences confiscated on the spot by the police.
  • You are required to carry a warning triangle, reflective jacket, and convert your headlamps when driving in France.  It is recommended that you carry spare light bulbs if you can fit them easily.
  • Driving on the right hand side of the road on unknown routes can be rather challenging. Take regular breaks, and always have a rest if you’re getting sleepy.
  • A child sitting in the front passenger seat must be at least 10 years old (or a baby up to 9 months in a rear-facing child seat).
  • Remember the speed limits in France are different to the UK, and unlike here they change when it rains, so make sure you know them before you go.
  • While radar speed camera detectors are legal in the UK, in France they are illegal whether or not you are using them. This legislation includes satnav systems which show speed camera information.
  • Many ‘N’ (main) roads and local authority ‘D’ and ‘C’ roads and a village name sign with a red border all signify the start of a 50km speed limit that continues until you pass the village name sign with a red bar across it and a black border signifying the village boundary and end of speed limit.
  • Always exit on the right side so you don’t revert to driving on the left.

IAM chief examiner Peter Rodger said: “The school holidays are fast approaching, and many people will be driving on the continent this summer. Driving abroad can be very different to driving at home, but preparation as always is the key. Make sure your car is fit for the journey, plan your route in advance, including fuel stops, and remember to check up all the rules for driving in France before you go.”

  1. https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/france
  2. Follow on Twitter @IAMgroup. 
  3. Peter Rodger is the IAM’s chief examiner
  4. The IAM is the UK’s largest independent road safety charity, dedicated to improving standards and safety in driving, motorcycling and cycling. The commercial division of the IAM operates through its occupational driver training company IAM Drive & Survive. The IAM has more than 200 local volunteer groups and over 100,000 members in the UK and Ireland. It is best known for the advanced driving test and the advanced driving, motorcycling and cycling courses. Its policy and research division offers advice and expertise on road safety.
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