Be Extra Careful If Driving Abroad This Summer!
For the many company drivers taking their vehicles abroad there are a number of things to watch out for this summer, including clean air stickers (Crit’Air) in certain French cities and new generation mobile speed cameras in Spain.
French clean air law
Company car drivers heading for France will need to give their leasing company or employer plenty of notice because of the latest clean air regulations, which apply in a number of French cities and which have been extended since they were first introduced.
The Crit’Air scheme, which came into force in January 2017, requires all vehicles to display a windscreen sticker, or vignette, according to how much they pollute.
The scheme applies in Paris where there is a permanent scheme in place, excluding evenings and weekends, and in Grenoble, where there is also a permanent scheme in place but which applies to commercial vehicles only.
There are then a raft of French cities, Chambery, Lyon, Lille, Marseille, Strasbourg and Toulouse, where there is an emergency scheme in place, meaning restrictions can be imposed on vehicles if pollution is expected to reach a particular level.
Motoring organisation, the RAC, also expects Bordeaux and Rouen to join in before the end of 2018 and that, between now and 2020, some 25 additional areas will be taking part in the scheme.
To apply for a Crit’Air sticker online, you must know your vehicle’s European Emissions Standard. For newer vehicles, covered by Euro 5 and Euro 6 standards, the category may be in section D2 of the DVLA V5C registered keeper form, which on a leased car will be held by the leasing company.
This information is vital in order to apply for a Crit’Air sticker from the official French website which is at: www.certificat-air.gouv.fr/en/
Fines of £117 can be issued on the spot for non-compliance, so it’s best to ensure you abide by the new rules to stay legal at all times.
New Spanish speed cameras
Spain has long been a popular destination for the British but, from this summer, company car drivers heading down to the Costas will need to stick rigidly to the speed limits or risk falling foul of a new generation of portable Spanish speed cameras.
The new Velolaser radar speed cameras are small, unobtrusive and can cover both directions of travel at once. They can be controlled by police patrols several miles away using their inbuilt 3G or 4G capability and can cover up to four lanes of traffic simultaneously.
You may not even notice you have been caught offending until a demand for a speeding fine arrives, ranging from £85 to £425 depending on the severity of the offence.
And due to the EU Cross Border Enforcement Directive, member states can now actively pursue UK drivers for a range of offences, including speeding, drink-driving, jumping red lights and using a mobile phone while at the wheel.
The new Velolasers are known to be in operation in 18 of Spain’s 50 provinces, including popular tourist spots such as Madrid, Malaga, Murcia, Granada and Valencia.
Other countries joining in
Spain isn’t the only country that is increasing its capability to catch speeding motorists.
Italy’s roadside cameras reportedly issued fines worth a staggering £1.5bn in 2017, up 20% from 2016. And France is also revolutionising its anti-speeding measures with up to 1,000 new roadside speed traps this year.
Half of these will be the new Mesta Fusion radars, which are capable of monitoring 32 vehicles at a time for everything from speeding to occupants wearing a seat belt. These are currently being trialled in a number of French towns and cities, including Bordeaux, Marseilles, Strasbourg and Val d’Oise.
Meanwhile, in Normandy this summer, drivers will be tracked by radars mounted in unmarked cars, with fines ranging from £60 to £1,320. Reports suggest there will be 400 such vehicles patrolling French roads by 2020.
UK drivers should also be aware that the speed limits on secondary roads in France are coming down from 90kph (56mph) to 80kph (50mph) from July 1 this year.
National motoring laws
Don’t forget that in Europe everyone drives on the right rather than the left, while road signs can be confusing.
In a survey of 2,000 British drivers, 89% said they had little or no understanding of the different highway rules and road signs used in other European countries.
Drivers planning to travel abroad will always need to take into account the national motoring laws and should familiarise themselves thoroughly with the laws for their chosen destination before setting off.
For example, in some countries, headlamp beams will need to be adjusted to take into account other oncoming motorists, while some countries, like France, insist that a set of spare headlamp bulbs are always carried.
In Spain, motorists could find themselves facing a €91 (£80) fine for filling their tank full of fuel while the radio in the car is still on!
According to the research from rental company, Europcar, just 51% of drivers were aware of this unusual driving law.
Carrying a reflective jacket in your car when visiting France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Portugal and Croatia is compulsory, and a warning triangle is compulsory in some countries and recommended in most others. You can order your travel essentials such as a European travel kit, headlamp deflectors, first aid kit etc from the CLM Car Care site.
For driving in France, it is also mandatory to carry at least one unused, certified breathalyser, although there is currently no fine for non-compliance.
Again in France, it is compulsory to disable your speed camera warning devices. Failure to do so can result in a significant fine.
As with the UK, the use of hand-held mobile phones while driving is outlawed, although penalties are usually stiffer, and when it comes to drink driving, there is only one safe rule – don’t do it. Foreign laws are often stricter than ours and the penalties are severe.
What happens post-Brexit?
The Department for Transport (DfT) has recently confirmed that British drivers will be able to carry on using existing insurance policies in the EU after Brexit without the need for additional paperwork
The DfT said the UK intended to remain part of the “Green Card-free circulation area” which will also save the need for extra checks at borders.
The department said in a statement: “This would provide significant benefits to motorists and the insurance industry, enabling continuation of the existing insurance processes between the UK and the EU and removing the need for green cards and checks of insurance documents at borders.”
The British Insurance Brokers’ Association (ABI) said the decision would be positive for the 2.5 million private and commercial drivers from Britain who travel in the EU every year and who no longer faced the prospect of extra paperwork and admin charges to travel in Europe.
The ABI said the decision meant that the UK’s status in the system would be the same as that as three other member states – Serbia, Switzerland and Andorra – where drivers can enter the EU using their domestic insurance policy and do not need additional documentation.
If you have any questions about travelling abroad with your vehicle or hiring vehicles while abroad, then please see our guide: www.clm.co.uk/resources/clm-driving-abroad.pdf