France cracks down on speeding foreign drivers with 2.5 million tickets issued last year

France cracks down on speeding foreign drivers with 2.5 million tickets issued last year
France is continuing its crackdown on foreign drivers, with 2.5 million speeding tickets issued to foreign registered cars last year.

Of all the 12.5 million speeding tickets French authorities issued in 2019, one in five (2.5 million) were to drivers with foreign license plates.

If that sounds like a lot, it's actually less than the year before, when 25 percent of all speeders were foreign.

France has struggled for years to crack down on foreigners going rogue on its roads.

Since the country deployed speed cameras back in 2012, 21 percent of all violations were by foreign drivers, and in summer it rose to 50 percent – even though foreign drivers only represent 5-6 percent of the total traffic, according to the government's road security agency, Sécurité routière.

Catching the rogue drivers on camera was easy enough, but getting them to pay the fine that followed was long a difficult matter.

Enforcing fines and penalty notices once a foreigner has left French soil was a complicated process, until 2015 when a new EU law opened up information sharing within countries, which allowed for the legal pursuit of foreign nationals in their own country. 

Twenty countries in addition to France are now members; Denmark, Belgium, Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Italy, Luxembourg, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ireland, Sweden and Portugal, and the United Kingdom. 

Switzerland and France also share information on speeding offenders but through a specific bilateral agreement.

In the case of the UK, the rules are being renegotiated as part of the Brexit deal.

READ ALSO Driving in France – what are the offences that net you points and fines?

Photo: Sécurité routière

What happens if I'm caught speeding in France?

Drivers caught breaking road rules France will receive a PV (procès-verbal), which is the technical French term for a fine.

If a camera or a police officer catch you speeding, you are supposed to – if your country is on the list above – get the fine sent to your home address in your home country. The fine will be translated to the language of your country, so no use in pretending like you don't understand French.

it seems that not everybody who gets flashed by a fixed camera gets their fine posted out, but 444,378 fines were issued to British drivers in France last year, so we wouldn't suggest you bank on them not catching up with you.

If you refuse to pay up, the matter is then passed to your home country, who enforce it the same way as for domestic speeders.

READ ALSO The ten places in France where you're sure to be caught speeding

Who are the most unruly foreign drivers in France?

That would be the Brits! Of those 2.5 million fines issued last year, British drivers received 444,378, according to a government report (although they're also the largest group of visitors to France, so maybe on a percentage basis they're not all that bad).

Belgians came second (295,899), then Spaniards (262,012), Germans (249,291) and Dutch (206,102).

Vocab

Code de la route – traffic rules

Freiner – break

Infraction vitesse – speed violation 

Flashé – flashed (caught on camera)


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