World news story

"Drive right, think right" advises British Embassy Paris

Consular staff will be at the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle terminal at Folkestone on 14-15 February to launch the "Drive safely in Europe" campaign.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

GREAT Mini Cooper in Paris © Jean-Francois DEROUBAIX
GREAT Mini Cooper in Paris © Jean-Francois DEROUBAIX

The staff will distribute information about driving safely to British motorists heading to or through France for the school winter half-term.

For many British drivers France is the gateway to Europe and last year close to 2.5 million cars (including motorcycles, vehicles with trailers, caravans and camper vans) travelled from the UK to France on Eurotunnel Le Shuttle alone. Many more British visitors to France rent hire cars during their stay.

The vast majority of British drivers and their passengers will have a safe and trouble-free journey. Every year, however, Consular staff across France provide assistance to British travellers involved in road traffic accidents and incidents.

Incidents involving British drivers often occur due to a lack of familiarity with the local regulations and driving conditions. Consular staff want to encourage drivers coming to or passing through France, to properly prepare for their trip and to be aware of the main differences in driving conditions and regulations.

To steer clear of trouble when driving in France, follow our top tips:

  • Remember to drive on the right – this might sound obvious but many British drivers admit to having ‘near miss’ experiences due to a momentary lapse in concentration. Stay alert and avoid distractions to help you keep right while in Europe.
  • Know the speed limits and remember they will be displayed in kilometres per hour: 130kph = 80mph, 110kph = 68mph, 50mph = 31mph. Penalties for speeding offences can be harsher than in the UK.
  • Be aware that it is illegal to carry radar detection devices in your vehicle in France and doing so can lead to on-the-spot fines.
  • Carry the right equipment in your car –in France it is a legal requirement to carry certain items in your car, such as a red warning triangle and a high visibility vest, so do your research before you go. In winter, carry snow chains for use in ice or snow. You may wish to get information verified by the motoring/organisation of the relevant country.
  • Make sure you have all the correct documents with you. Don’t set off without your passport, driving licence, vehicle registration, insurance documents and travel insurance.
  • Don’t drink and drive. The legal blood-alcohol limit is lower in France than it is in the UK and random testing is common so don’t take the risk.
  • Make sure your breakdown insurance covers you for driving in France and repatriating your car to the UK. Leaving your car in a French garage when you return to the UK can be costly and stressful.
  • Tune in to local radio while driving to catch weather and traffic reports - 107.7 is the local ‘autoroute’ road radio station in France.
  • Remember that the number for emergency services is 112 – store this in your phone.

Eurotunnel Le Shuttle supports the Drive Safely in Europe campaign. Eurotunnel Le Shuttle Commercial Director, Jo Willacy, said:

We put the safety of our customers at the very top of our priority list, so we are delighted to support this very practical initiative to keep them safe all the way to their final destinations.

The British Embassy has been working with Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, Isle of Man Road Safety Team, the AA, the Department for Transport and Kent UK police on this campaign.

Published 7 February 2014