French police step up watch on British drivers

UK drivers liable for on-the-spot fines as British Government opts out of EU road safety legislation

British holidaymakers driving in France could be in for an unwelcome surprise as EU legislation coming into force this year would mean that those caught speeding would have to pay on-the-spot fines worth up to £323.

The innocuously-named EU Directive on Road Safety aims to cut down the number of speeding offences in each member state committed by foreign drivers by making it easier for authorities to track the down the car owner to their own country and fine them.

However, Britain, along with Ireland and Denmark, has opted out of the directive, meaning that drivers from the UK caught speeding in France will be made to pay a fine there and then, without any exceptions.

The French police say that many foreign drivers break the speed limit, particularly on motorways like the A64 towards Biarritz and the Pyrenees mountains, because they know they can avoid being fined.

The legislation that comes into force across the 28-nation bloc will allow member states to exchange data on motoring offences.

The UK Government has stayed out of the new cross-border rules because of concerns that the directive means exchanging vehicle owner information, rather than driver information. It argues that often, the offending driver in this type of situation does not own the vehicle. Authorities on this side of the channel have also suggested that fines are a poor deterrent for bad driving, compared with points on a driving licence. The Government also wants to assess the cost of setting up the EU-wide data exchange system before opting in.

Because of the UK's opt-out, the only way British drivers caught speeding in France can be penalised is through the payment of an on-the-spot fine.

Specialist teams within the French police are equipped with binoculars that can quickly calculate speeds, helping them to pursue errant drivers.

According to the RAC, if Britons commit serious traffic offences that lead to a heavy fine, suspension or even a prison sentence, French police can hold the car until the driver pays up.

An RAC spokesman:  “Finding you are liable for an on-the-spot fine of up to €375 when holidaying in France with no option to have this transferred back to the UK can be a very unwelcome surprise. This issue highlights the need to be aware of the rules of the road when driving abroad to ensure you don’t have the gendarmerie pulling you over in the first place.

“In France, this could be as simple as not carrying a reflective jacket, so we urge motorists to do their homework before they leave and make sure they don’t end up with substantial additions to the holiday budget.“

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want for the fitness tech, or the style
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own