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Lack of awareness over French driving rules could cost UK drivers dearly

UK drivers heading over to France this summer could fall foul of new speed cameras being introduced this year – bringing fines for everything from tailgating to mobile use.

Initially just covering speed limit enforcement, the ‘Mesta Fusion’ cameras may be used by the French authorities to catch drivers overtaking dangerously and tailgating, running a red light, driving in a bus lane or on a hard shoulder and even using a mobile phone illegally.

Yet, research by the RAC has found just 14% of drivers say they are currently aware of the new cameras.

The RAC’s analysis also found that six in 10 (63%) of drivers who take their own cars or motorbikes abroad are not aware tailgating is illegal in France, as it is in the UK, while half (49%) do not know that the only legal way of using a handheld mobile phone in the country is to park up in a designated parking place and switch the engine off. Just 38% of drivers know the distracting practice of using headphones or earphones while behind the wheel is illegal.

Meanwhile only half of drivers (49%) know they have to pay a mandatory recovery fee should they break down on a French motorway, with just one in six of these (15%) aware that the fee has gone up to at least €126 per breakdown this year – a cost which rises overnight and during weekends. Depending on their breakdown provider and level of cover, drivers can claim this fee back once they are back in the UK.

RAC Europe spokesman Rod Dennis said: “With thousands of UK drivers taking their own cars – and motorbikes – to France in the coming weeks, it can be easy to forget that certain driving conventions can be quite different to those this side of the Channel.

“Luckily, the vast majority of drivers say they have European breakdown cover in place before they leave – which is just as well, as a good policy is vital in helping drivers out of a sticky situation should they be unlucky enough to suffer a breakdown away from home.”

Written by Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.

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