It turns out there are more tricksy things for Brits to think about if they go driving in France this summer.
I’ve just come back from a short driving trip across the Channel, the first I’d made for a few years. I knew, as I was planning it, that I already had the obligatory hazard warning triangle and a first aid kit from previous trips, and that I’d have to ‘top up’ with new deflector lens for the headlights and a new GB sticker, but I double-checked for any new requirements and found two things I hadn’t expected.
Firstly, these days you have to have a high visibility vest, and what’s more you can’t keep it in the boot. It has to be in the passenger compartment so, when you break down, you can put it on before stepping outside to retrieve your warning triangle from the boot and then trudge down the road to set it up. “What about passengers?” you ask. Well, exactly. There has to be one for everyone who gets out of the car. You could have just one and swop it around, but that’s not very practical. So knowing I had 2 passengers I needed 3 vests.
And then there are spare bulbs. Now these are not “obligitoire”, but if a bulb ‘went’ on the car and you were pulled over, you would be fined and not allowed to drive on. You’d have to leave the car to go and find one.
So, for me it was fairly straight-forward I went off to the local Halfords (£) store, and probably because it was very first thing on a Sat morning (before the stress levels kicked in), the staff were entirely brilliant and helped me find all the various bulbs I needed plus the other bits & pieces (headlamp lens deflectors, GB sign, High vis jackets), which came to just under £40.
But wait! There’s more!
Probably spurred on by Halfords the French have upped the rules.
As of 1st July all cars in France must carry a breathalyser kit. The French are clamping down on over-the-limit drivers (the limit is quite low in France: 50mg alcohol per 100ml of blood. It’s 80mg in the UK) and this new legislation is designed to undermine any mitigating “I didn’t know” arguments.
The French police will fine you €11 if you don’t have one, although they are likely to be discretionary till Nov 2012.
It’s best to keep your eye on the French because they have a habit of ‘upping’ the rules. I only discovered after my last trip that another rule was introduced with the New Year. You can now be fined up to €1500 in France if you have a satellite navigation system in the car that shows the location of speed cameras. I don’t think my old & basic Tom Tom does, but my Waze app on my smartphone certainly does! EEK!
(Declaration: No this is NOT a sponsored post, but I have put an affiliate link in it. That’s because I did use Halfords, they were very helpful, and as it happens, I do have an affiliate relationship with them because I list them in my travel equipment retailers lists.)