French police continue drive to improve nation’s road safety
A RECENT reference to the French police’s increased activities to catch errant motorists brought a request by email from Fred Wyatt for more information on the law and how it was being applied. He wrote: “I for one am concerned that they might use the British tourist as a ‘soft touch’ and thus make me think twice about future visits which now are anything but a cheap option”.
My experience is only observational and it is that the police are anxious to catch anyone breaking the laws, regardless of nationality. At about the time Mr Wyatt was emailing for more information (there is actually plenty of legal advice on websites) I was in the Gironde/Dordogne region.
I took this photograph for my archive, showing a random daytime roadside check by the gendarmerie in Ste Foy la Grande, a town popular with tourists, straddling the river Dordogne.
They were there for an hour or so – by which time the word had probably got round that there was an operation to catch offenders: flashing headlamps are the normal warning. Why any driver concerned about personal safety should alert potentially dangerous or suspect drivers is a moot point.
The gendarmes are looking for bogus documents, the uninsured, those speeding or not observing road signs and traffic lights, crooks, drinkdrivers: alcohol limits are lower than in Britain.
There’s no point giving the limit here: it is a huge risk to judge how much is within the limit or what the morning- after level of alcohol is in your body.
New this year: vigilance that motorists stop at Stop signs. A 10 second halt is required, say friends living in France.
Fines are on the spot and you can get an immediate driving ban for a number of days. The website http:// driving.drive-alive.co.uk advises that anyone 25kph (15mph) above the speed limit
Anyone going over there and having a blast, thinking they’ll get away with it is driving in the past.
may get a ban. My view is that if you are doing, say, 45kph in a 30kph zone, you may be walking for a few days – unless you have a co-driver.
So, I do not think British tourists are a “soft touch”. Anyone going over there and having a blast, whether on bikes or in a sporty car, and thinking they’ll get away with it is driving in the past. I have friends who have spent the night in jail.
In short, drive as if you are on your test, obey speed limits, watch out for traffic joining from your right, think twice when coming out of car parks on to the main road.
One tip: even if a village has no posted speed limits they do exist, denoted by the name signs at the entry and exit. Stick to a maximum of 30mph.
CHECK POINT: French police hold a roadside check at Ste Foy la Grande, a town straddling the river Dordogne that is popular with tourists.