The little-known French driving law that could earn you a fine

The Local France
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The little-known French driving law that could earn you a fine
Photo: AFP

Motorists planning a trip around France this summer are being warned not to forget the driving rule that could earn you a €35 fine and a ticking off from local police if you break it.


Police in the Côte-d'Or area of eastern France have published a reminder to drivers about the middle lane rule of the autoroutes - which is frequently ignored even by French drivers, but which is nevertheless illegal.

In France it is illegal to 'lane hog' the middle lane when travelling on an autoroute or motorway with more than two lanes.


Police have issued a warning to drivers ahead of the holidays 

There is a misconception among some drivers that the right hand lane is reserved for lorries or other slow traffic, but in fact this is not the case.

Drivers should be in the right hand lane unless they are overtaking, and anyone caught driving in the middle lane or left lane when the right hand lane is empty risks being pulled over by police and fined.  

Article R412-9 of the French highway code states that "in normal conditions, every driver must maintain his/her vehicle near the right edge of the road".

Some sections of road may have a 'crawler lane' for slow vehicles going up hill, but this will be clearly marked with signage and usually only exists for short distances.

The Côte-d'Or police wrote on their Facebook page: "Some bad habits are definitely hard to give up, such as driving in the middle line on the autoroute. 

"Driving in the middle lane, or left, when not overtaking is forbidden.

"The highway code forbids it because it disrupts traffic and, above all, obliges other drivers to take dangerous maneuvers to overtake."

Anyone driving on a French motorway will notice that this rule is routinely ignored by many French drivers, but that won't save you from the fine if you are pulled over.

Ahead of the holidays, the Côte-d'Or police have also issued a suggested checklist for anyone planning a trip on French roads.

Their tips include;

  • Respect the speed limits, especially in roadworks where temporary limits are often introduced
  • Check your vehicle is not overloaded, paying particular attention to trailers and caravans.
  • Check before you leave that your tyres - on cars, trailers and caravans - are correctly inflated 
  • Do not leave any unsecured objects in the vehicle that could hit people in case of sudden braking
  • Stop as soon as you feel even slightly sleepy (sleep often catches up with overtired holidaymakers ready for a break).
  • If you have to stop on the hard shoulder, all the occupants must get out of the car, put on a fluorescent yellow vest and go behind the safety barrier
  • Beware of distractions! On the road drivers should never be looking at phones, in-car entertainment or anywhere other that at the road

READ ALSO True or false? The driving rules in France that foreigners often get wrong



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Anonymous 2019/08/02 22:38
British drivers should know this, because it is illegal in the UK too. Can cost you 3 points or a £100 fine.

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