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The new rules for gaining a driving licence in France

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The new rules for gaining a driving licence in France
Photo: AFP
19:40 CEST+02:00
The French government has rolled out an overhaul of the system of qualifying to drive in France, which it hopes will make the process cheaper. Here's a look at what you need to know.

France's system for ensuring that drivers are qualified has been criticised for being overly complex and expensive, so what has changed?

There are three main changes - a lowering of the legal age to learn to drive down to 17, an increase in the hours of virtual practice needed and a prioritising of automatic vehicles.

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Will the new rules cut the number of accidents on French roads? Photo: AFP

The government says that these changes should cut the €1,800 average cost for French learner drivers by 30 percent. 

The expense of the driving test has been cited as one possible explanation for the terrifying high number of unqualified drivers on the road in France - an estimated 700,000.

The law, which was introduced on Monday, allows drivers to pass a driving test from the age of 17, down from the previous age of 17-and-a-half, although new drivers will still only be allowed to drive alone once they are 18.

With 74.5 percent of drivers passing first time in France, the government hopes that earlier success will result in learners having to spend less money on driving lessons. 

French learners now must also take part in 10 hours of computer-simulated virtual driving before they will be allowed in a vehicle. 

A rise from the six hours previously mandated, the time spent mastering traffic tendencies and tricky conditions on the programme should result in fewer hours of paid driving lessons, the government says. 

France looks to focus on the future of electric cars. Photo: APF

Longer-term, the government aims to prioritise learning in automatic vehicles instead of manually driven cars.

Looking towards a future of electric cars, Patrice Bresson, President of CNPA-Education Routière, said: "In the next five years, we will only have automatic vehicles. Therefore, it's a good thing, we are putting an emphasis on an ecological transition and the future of cars." 

Automatic vehicles, which take only 13 hours of lessons to master in comparison to the 20 needed for manually driven cars, would also save learner drivers from having to pay for the seven supplementary classes.

A change that looks to reap more benefits in the future, with only 30 percent of France's current vehicles being automatic, for now drivers will have to complete a further seven hours of lessons at an average price of €45 per hour, in order to master manual driving. 

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Boggy - 24 Jul 2019 07:28
10 hours of computer-simulated virtual driving before they will be allowed in a vehicle. That's the real problem, as getting into a real car and real situations must come as a shock to them.
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