French speed limit to be cut later this year… find out when, where and how to avoid the risk of fines up to £650

Brits heading to the Continent have been warned to look out for new speed restrictions as French authorities reveal cuts to limits on two-lane roads across the country.

A surge in road deaths has led to the new curbs on speed limits on roads popular with thousands of UK travellers visiting rural areas of France.

French speed limits are changing... get the lowdown here

French speed limits are changing… get the lowdown here: Thinkstock

Here’s all you need to know about the new limits as you plan your trip to France and beyond.

Why are speed limits being cut?

Road deaths on French roads have soared to almost 3,500 during 2016, with 55 per cent of the fatalities occurring on two-lane routes without any separation between traffic.

These routes account for around 250,000 miles of the nation’s road network. They’re also the roads most commonly used by Brits heading off the motorways to explore rural areas of the country.

What are the new speed limits going to be?

The French Government has revealed it will be cutting limits on all the nation’s two-lane roads from 90km/h (56mph) to 80km/h (50mph).

Will the reduced limit also apply in wet weather driving conditions

This is not clear at the moment, but to work in the spirit of the cut, it is likely that in wet driving conditions, the speed limit will drop to 70km/h (43mph). New signage will confirm this at the time.

Current French speed limits

Motorway 130 kph (110 kph in wet weather) 80 mph (68 mph in wet weather)
Dual Carriageway (Major Roads) 110 kph (100 kph in wet weather) 68 mph (62 mph in wet weather)
Two-lane roads outside built-up areas 90 kph (80 kph in wet weather) 56 mph (50 mph in wet weather)
Built up areas (towns and villages) 50 kph 31 mph

New French speed limits from July 1, 2018

Motorway 130 kph (110 kph in wet weather) 80 mph (68 mph in wet weather)
Dual Carriageway (Major Roads) 110 kph (100 kph in wet weather) 68 mph (62 mph in wet weather)
Two-lane roads outside built-up areas 80 kph (70 kph in wet weather) 50 mph (43mph in wet weather)
Built up areas (towns and villages) 50 kph 31 mph

Where will the new limits apply?

Speed limits on dual-carriageway roads, such as this, will remain as they are

The new speed limits will apply on two-lane roads without central separation, where the limit is currently 90km/h. Other roads, such as dual carriageways and motorways where the dry weather limit is 130km/h, will not be subject to a reduced limit.

These secondary roads are, in effect, the French equivalent of A- and B-roads in the UK – excluding dual carriageways.

So – just to be clear – dual carriageway (2×2) roads will not face the new restriction?

That’s right. Even if these 2×2 roads don’t have a central barrier, they will not be subject to the lower speed limit.

When will the new speed limits come into force?

The cut in speed limit for two-lane roads that currently have a 90km/h limit will come into force on July 1, 2018 – just as Brits pour onto the Continent.

How will it impact on my journey?

In reality, most Brits will be using the bigger motorways or expressways as they surge towards warmer climes in central and southern France.

However, travellers will need to be extra vigilant as they join sections of local two-lane roads where the new limits are in force.

It’s likely these areas will face heavy enforcement as the new law comes into force.

What are the fines for Brits breaking the speed limit?

Drivers caught exceeding the new limits can expect an on-the-spot fine of at least €68 (£60), but this could technically rise to €750 (£650) if it goes to trial. Even if they’re not fined at the roadside, Brit offenders can still expect to pay for breaking the limit.

New legislation, in the form of the EU Cross-Border Enforcement Directive, now means that British drivers can be tracked down and forced to pay fines if caught speeding in France.

Prior to May 6, 2017, French authorities were unable to find out the registered keeper of Brit-registered vehicles, this is no longer the case.

Will British drivers get points on their licence if caught speeding?

Cops can demand on-the-spot payment if you're caught committing an offence

French cops are likely to impose heavy enforcement as the new limits come into force: image credit

No. Penalty points are not transferable or applicable for offences committed on foreign roads. This could change in the future, however.

What do the French public think about the cut?

It seems the indigenous population isn’t convinced by leaders’ motives in cutting the speed limit. A YouGov survey for the French news website 20minutes.fr, revealed that two out of three of those polled thought the change would not make roads safe and that it was more about raising revenue.

French authorities believe the 10km/h reduction on the two-lane roads could save up to 500 lives each year.

The French Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, has said any excess revenue made from enforcement of the new restrictions will be used to support victims of road accidents.

Where can I read the full speech announcing this, made by the French Prime Minister?

Just head to the following link, then right-click and select translate to read the full speech giving reasons behind the change in speed limits.

Click here for the full speech on speed limit changes delivered by French PM, Edouard Philippe.

Does everyone in power agree with the change?

It seems not. It’s been reported that French President Emmanuel Macron was opposed to the change in limits.

Anything else I need to know?

Yes. The French authorities are planning a crackdown on drivers using mobile phones. This could see with offenders having their licence suspended.

It’s not currently clear how this could be translated to British drivers who are caught using their mobile phone.

Find out the current laws covering driving in France other European countries here.

Check out all the information for road trip across France here


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