A new “virtual licence” scheme that is being established in France, coinciding with more severe punishments for breaking road traffic laws, means that drivers could be banned from driving, could be blacklisted from driving in the country, and could even have their car confiscated, if they are guilty of driving offences and if they fail to pay fines on time.
Estimates suggest that a quarter of all infringements on French roads are made by foreigners visiting the country, with Brits among the chief offenders. The AA has warned that, although France has routinely attempted to blitz offenders in the past, it has taken extreme measures this time in a bid to try and curb the number of accidents that occur on their road.
According to the most recent figures, the number of accidents that occurred on French roads in July this year was 20% higher than during the same month last year. Thousands of fake speeding cameras, and several hundred real ones, are to be introduced in a bid to try and scare motorists into reducing their speed to more acceptable and legal levels, and a new EU directive means that, by 2017, the UK government must implement new laws that will make it easier for French police to chase down offenders even when they return home.
Britain initially opted out of a scheme that meant driving licence details and home addresses would be shared between police and agencies in EU member state countries. However, an EU directive was passed, which means that the government will effectively still have to comply with the regulations. Currently, French police do not try to collect fines from British drivers once they return home, because they have a poor success rate.
Motoring groups and lawyers have long warned that drivers need to be aware of the rules of the road in any country that they are visiting, and the proximity and ease with which British drivers can head over to France and drive on their roads, means that there are many Brits that do use the French road system. Fines, and other penalties, will soon follow those that break the speed limit, when they return home.