UK drivers heading to France this summer risk rousing the suspicions of the gendarmes by being in the dark about a range of French driving rules, new research conducted for RAC European Breakdown suggests.
Six-in-10 drivers who take their own cars or motorbikes abroad (63%) are not aware tailgating is illegal in France, as it is in the UK, while half (49%) do not know that the only legal way of using a handheld mobile phone in the country is to park up in a designated parking place and switch the engine off.
Just 38% of drivers know the distracting practice of using headphones or earphones while behind the wheel is illegal.
Meanwhile only half of drivers (49%) know they have to pay a mandatory recovery fee should they break down on a French motorway, with just one in six of these (15%) aware that the fee has gone up to at least €126 per breakdown this year – a cost which rises overnight and during weekends. Depending on their breakdown provider and level of cover, drivers can claim this fee back once they are back in the UK.
Reassuringly however, the vast majority of UK drivers heading over the Channel (93%) say they do the right thing and buy European breakdown cover before they go away.
Drivers were also asked about their awareness of new speed cameras that are being rolled out across France this year. Despite an understandably low 14% of drivers saying they are currently aware of the new ‘Mesta Fusion’ cameras, those heading abroad will need to familiarise themselves with them, not least because in the future they may be used by the French authorities to catch drivers tailgating, driving in a bus lane or on a hard shoulder and even using a mobile phone illegally.
The new hi-tech roadside cameras are developed by Idemai and feature facial and behavioural recognition software, so not only can they check who you are by scanning your face, but your expression, or the vehicle’s erratic driving style could send an alert to the French Police or other agencies.
So don’t forget now, stick-on beard, moustache and Inspector Clouseau hat on at all times. Bon chance!