Driving Pretty In Italy & France
If you decide to go driving in Europe this year, maybe to forget the Euros of what may well end up as glorious failure for our Olympic athletes, remember that European countries have different rules as well as driving on the opposite side of the road
Once you’ve got past the jokes about England’s weather, the fact that we only drew with France at football and got pummelled by Italy and were lucky to get Nil, there are more serious things to think about.
- Always carry your driving licence, vehicle registration document (V5) and insurance certificate. D it is probably best to carry your passport too. The police are very thorough.
- The drink-drive limit is less than in the UK; you cannot have more than 50mg per 100ml blood (compared to 80mg in the UK).
- It is compulsory to use daytime running lights and as a visitor you must use dipped headlights in poor daytime visibility and in all tunnels at all times – and there are a lot of those in Italy..
- Make sure that the vehicle you are travelling in, or on, has a warning triangle and reflective jacket somewhere on your person at all times.
- All grades of unleaded petrol (benzina), diesel (gasolio) and LPG are available as well as lead substitute additive. Leaded petrol no longer exists.
- Be aware that traffic is severely restricted in many historical centres and major towns. These are known as ‘Zone a Traffico Limitato’ or ZTLs. They are only permitted for residents’ use. Entering such areas will result in a fine by post. (And if you are in a hire car, that will be forwarded to you with ‘costs’ added on to it!)
The Institute of Advance Motorists says that: “Driving from London to Rome takes an exhausting 20 hours so preparing yourself and your car is essential. Check all of your lights are working and that your tyres have enough tread, aren’t damaged and have the right pressure. Plan your journey to include rest stops, and if you’re tired, stop for a sleep.”
Please note that it is also actually illegal to run over any annoying good-looking youth on a motorcycle with a really pretty girl on the back who cuts you up and flicks you the ‘V’s – no matter how tempting it is!
To get to Italy you may have to drive through France. Don’t forget that from 1 July, all drivers and motorcyclists need to carry a breathalyser kit, with two disposable breathalysers. The breathalyser must carry the NF certification.”
It is believed that up to 50% of motorists are unaware that the breathalysers they will soon need to carry in France must be certified to the French NF standard, according to the IAM. Basically, the easiest way to tell if the breathalyser complies with the French legislation is to make sure it has the blue circular NF logo, the French equivalent of the BSI kite mark in the UK.
This is all part of a campaign and legislation by the French authorities to cut down on drink-driving in their country, but only 13% of people in France believe that the new regulations will reduce people driving over the limit, and 70% said that drivers will only carry the breathalysers comply with the law, and will not change their behaviour.
And, the legal limit in France is the same as Italy: 50 mg per 100 ml of blood, again lower than in the UK (the UK limit is 80mg).
IAM chief executive Simon Best said: “Agree with the changes or not, from July 1st you will face a fine if you don’t carry an NF approved breathalyser while travelling in France. While these are a good way of being sure you are safe to drive, if you’re going to drink don’t drive, and beware the morning after effect.
“We will be looking forward to seeing the evaluation of what impact this new legislation is having. Support is likely to be higher if people can see that carrying a breathalyser actually reduces drink driving.”
But it is vitally important that you get a NF registered brand breathalyser – otherwise the Gendarmerie will not accept it and may treat you the same way as if you do not have one at all.
But, apart from that, have a nice holiday.