Mo­tor­ing ex­pert Pe­ter Cook an­swers your ques­tions about driv­ing in France and find­ing a good in­surance com­pany

French Property News - - Contents -

Driv­ing safely in France

When driv­ing in France there are sev­eral things you need to bear in mind to en­sure you stay on the right side of both the road and the law.

For starters, un­der French law ev­ery ve­hi­cle must carry re­flec­tive warn­ing tri­an­gles, a gov­ern­ment cer­ti­fied (NF) breathal­yser (you need two so al­ways have a spare on board) and re­flec­tive jack­ets for driver and all pas­sen­gers. Driv­ers of right-hand drive cars will need head­lamp de­flec­tors and a GB sticker if the GB Euro sym­bol is not on your num­ber plate.

Mo­bile phones are banned as are hands-free and Blue­tooth de­vices. There is an on-the-spot fine of €135 for any­one who ig­nores this. Speed cam­era de­tec­tors are also il­le­gal. If your sat­nav has one, you must dis­able the alerts as fail­ure to do so can re­sult in a €1,500 fine.

Cars driven in Paris, Lyon, Greno­ble, Stras­bourg and Toulouse must dis­play a clean air sticker show­ing how much they pol­lute. Fail­ure to do so could mean a fine of €68 to €135.

The per­mit­ted blood al­co­hol level in France is 0.05% and 0.02% for driv­ers with less than three years’ ex­pe­ri­ence. If you wear glasses to drive you must take a spare pair with you and you must carry a full set of re­place­ment bulbs for head­lights etc.

Are there spe­cial laws I should be aware of? The French drive on the right-hand side of the road, which may take some get­ting used to, es­pe­cially at round­abouts, when turn­ing right and over­tak­ing. French mo­tor­ways have a speed limit of 130km/h (80mph), and 110km/h (70mph) in the wet, un­less oth­er­wise in­di­cated. Dual-car­riage­ways and other roads also have wet and dry speed lim­its. The limit drops to 50km/h (30mph) in built-up ar­eas. Ex­ces­sive speed­ing can re­sult in a driv­ing li­cence be­ing con­fis­cated. Also re­mem­ber that seat­belts must be worn at all times by the driver and all pas­sen­gers.

What doc­u­ments will I need to take? You will need a full driv­ing li­cence for ev­ery­one who will be driv­ing and your V5C, which con­tains in­for­ma­tion about when your car was reg­is­tered, its man­u­fac­turer, the colour and en­gine size. The V5C also iden­ti­fies the ve­hi­cle’s reg­is­tered keeper. You will also need proof of in­surance and pass­ports for the driver and all pas­sen­gers. A map is handy in case your sat­nav lets you down, a phrase book and, of course, your ferry or Euro­tun­nel tick­ets.

Do I need to in­form my in­surance com­pany? You should tell your in­surer you are tak­ing the car to France. Many com­pa­nies in­clude cover while driv­ing abroad as part of their poli­cies but you will need to tell them where you’ll be go­ing so they can check your cover and give you in­for­ma­tion about a green card – the in­ter­na­tion­ally recog­nised doc­u­ment that acts as proof of in­surance in Europe.

A green card? Do I re­ally need one nowa­days? A green card is no longer

Mo­bile phones are banned as are hands-free and Blue­tooth de­vices, with an on-the-spot fine of €135 for any­one who ig­nores this

com­pul­sory for driv­ing in France but if you have one it will make things sim­pler should you need to make a claim or pro­vide de­tails to a third party or po­lice. It pro­vides proof, in a num­ber of lan­guages, that you have at least third party in­surance while driv­ing in France.

Look for an in­surer who can pro­vide spe­cial­ist Euro­pean green card in­surance to cover your ve­hi­cle – from mo­torhome, to clas­sic, mod­i­fied or stan­dard car – abroad and when you bring it back to the UK. HIC, for ex­am­ple, can also of­fer ex­tended Euro­pean green card in­surance for any UK reg­is­tered ve­hi­cle, even if it is kept in Europe for more than six months of the year.

What’s the best thing to do if I break down while in France? The best way to pre­vent a break­down is to get your car fully ser­viced be­fore you set out but it’s also sen­si­ble to have Euro­pean break­down cover which will usu­ally pay for it­self the first time you need it. Ide­ally you want cover for both UK and Euro­pean road­side as­sis­tance and re­cov­ery, in­clud­ing a home start ser­vice. It’s a good idea to ar­range for ad­di­tional ben­e­fits, in­clud­ing re­cov­ery of the ve­hi­cle to your home if it can­not be re­paired be­fore your planned re­turn date and cov­er­age of costs in­curred in trav­el­ling from your home or hol­i­day lo­ca­tion to col­lect the ve­hi­cle af­ter re­pair.

Make sure you sign up to a ser­vice that op­er­ates 24 hours a day 365 days a year and has a large net­work of break­down spe­cial­ists.

What about if I have an ac­ci­dent? How­ever mi­nor it is, you must stop if you have an ac­ci­dent. Fail­ing to do so is an of­fence. Turn your haz­ard lights on and place warn­ing tri­an­gles in front and be­hind the ac­ci­dent scene if it is safe to do so.

If the road is blocked or any­one has been in­jured call the po­lice (and an am­bu­lance if nec­es­sary). Con­tact your in­surer’s helpline and take pho­tographs of any dam­age caused. You must pro­vide your name and ad­dress to any­one else in­volved and get their de­tails too. You will need the reg­is­tra­tion num­bers of all ve­hi­cles and a note of the colour, make and mod­els of the cars in­volved. A sketch show­ing the po­si­tions of the ve­hi­cles and an out­line of the weather, road con­di­tions, and light­ing will also be handy.

Is there any­thing else I should look for in a mo­tor in­surance pol­icy? I would rec­om­mend that you get a be­spoke pol­icy that of­fers: Flex­i­ble lim­ited mileage op­tions Cover for all types of car, in­clud­ing mo­torhomes and campers In­de­pen­dent Agreed Value cover Sal­vage re­ten­tion Unin­sured loss re­cov­ery for non-fault claims Free le­gal cover up to £100,000 Pe­ter Cook is the gen­eral man­ager at HIC In­surance Tel: 0344 381 6530 hertsin­sur­

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