French po­lice con­tinue drive to im­prove nation’s road safety

Yorkshire Post - Motoring - - NEWS -

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.

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