Here are a few rules that may help you as you drive, ride or cycle through France.

The new additions to the highway code in France (Code de La Route) which gives pedestrians priority in all cases has become operational since January 1st 2011.

When a pedestrian makes a clear sign that they wish to cross the road, cars must either slow down or stop to let them pass – even if there is not a pedestrian crossing in the vicinity.

On a pedestrian crossing, the pedestrian now has the priority and all vehicles MUST stop to let them cross – although, pedestrians must use a pedestrian crossing when they are no more than 50 meters away from where they wish to cross.

If a driver does not stop and let the pedestrian cross, they can be liable to an on-the-spot fine of 135 euros and lose 4 points from their driving license.

Cyclists are now allowed to go through a red light, when they are turning right, as long as the coast is clear. This rule is a little more complicated as it is up to the maire of each commune to decide which red-lights cyclists can go through in their village, town or city – but there will be a sign that indicates if it is allowed on the traffic lights.

All new riders of scooters or motorbikes of more than 50cc and less than 125cc must now take 7 hours of lessons – anyone who doesn’t can be fined 135 euros.

Any scooter or motorbike which has been altered to remove the governor which regulates the speed at 45 KPH is also liable to a fine of 135 euros.

From 1st January 2012, all motorcyclists with a bike, trike or scooter of over 125cc will have to wear a reflective jacket – failure to do so will result in a fine of 68 euros and two penalty points on the license.

Number plates on motorcycles need to be a minimum of 275mm x 200mm (today the law is 170mm x 130mm) failure to do so will result in a fine of 135 euros and two penalty points on the license.

Drivers using a warning for the presence of speeding cameras and radars could face a fine of 1,500 euros and 6 penalty points on the license.

Since 1st July 2008, it has been mandatory to have a reflective jacket in all cars (One for each person in the car) and a reflective triangle which, in case of breakdown, needs to be placed 30 metres from the vehicle. Failure to possess the above could result in a fine of 135 euros for each.

Some recent reinforcements in the Highway Code (Code de La Route) in France include :

Stiffer prison sentences for drivers who cause injury or death to other road users in the following circumstances:

  • Deliberate violation of the rules and regulations of the road.
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol – 0,5 g/l or the refusal of an alcohol test by the driver.
  • Driving under the influence of drugs
  • Driving without a license or with a suspended or invalid driving license
  • Driving at a speed exceeding the limited speed by 50 KPH
  • Abandoning the scene of an accident

Vehicles can be permanently confiscated in the following cases:

  • Causing death or injury to other road users
  • Putting the lives of others at risk
  • Driving without a license
  • Abandoning the scene of an accident
  • Driving with a suspended license

Driving a car that has a chip / mechanism to increase the power can lead to a fine of 450 euros and 6 points on the license.

Driving with a level of alcohol in the blood of between 0.5g/l and 0.8g/l can be punished by a fine of between 750 euros and 4,500 euros, plus 6 penalty points on the license.

Driving or parking in a bus lane, a taxi lane or parking in places reserved for the disabled risks a fine of 135 euros.

If you receive a fine and want to contest it – you must pay first then contest later.

Driving whilst using a telephone will cost 35 euros and two penalty points on the license.

Driving without a seatbelt will cost 135 euros and 3 penalty points on the license (this is the same for when you are a passenger in a bus or coach fitted with seat belts).

In cities and towns there is a radar and a camera fitted to traffic lights.

All drivers must stop at a red light or at a ‘Stop’ sign – failure to do so will result in a 135 euro fine, plus 4 penalty points and could also risk the suspension of their license for up to 3 years.

You must stop when the light is on amber (not flashing amber) except when the light turning solid amber would mean that the driver could not stop in a secure and safe manner.

We hope this will help you and that you drive safely and securely during your visit in France – if you have any questions about driving in France, do not hesitate to ask a question in our forum or Q & A section.

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