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The new French road sign that can net you a €135 fine if you ignore it

The Local France
The Local France - [email protected]
The new French road sign that can net you a €135 fine if you ignore it
Image: gouv.fr

This French road sign will soon be popping up on roads around the country - but it carries a hefty fine if you fail to respect it.

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The sign - showing a white diamond shape on a blue background - and it has been rolled out in Lyon, Lille, Grenoble and Strasbourg already and is set to be rapidly expanded across the country.

Adding the sign to French roads has been in the works since 2020, but it will soon become more widespread according to Actu France. Starting in autumn, drivers in Rennes and Nantes will start to see it on nearby motorways, with other towns set to follow suit. 

The sign indicates that the lane has been reserved for carpooling, as well as certain categories of vehicle, including buses, cabs and very low-emission cars. 

Permitted to use a lane with this sign are;

  • Vehicles with at least two occupants (including motorbikes with a pillion passenger)
  • Vehicles with a Crit'Air zero emission sticker (ie electric cars)
  • Taxis (even if there are no occupants on board),
  • Buses and other public transport vehicles

READ MORE: Crit'Air: How France's vehicle emissions stickers work

In some cases, the lane (or lanes) will only be reserved for certain times of day, and generally it will be the left-hand lane on motorways in order to limit disturbances that could be caused with exit lanes and passing.

As such, there will be two variations of the sign. The first version is only meant for certain hours of the day, which is indicated either by the sign lighting up over the lane when active, or standing at the side of the road with a time slot indicated on it.

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The second option will be for lanes that are permanently reserved for carpooling. In this case, a white diamond marking will be visible on the road.

The goal is to decrease pollution by taking down the number of cars on the road via carpooling, and failure to comply with the rule can lead to fines of €135.

How is the fine enforced?

If a vehicle is not allowed to be in the carpooling lane, then a fine can be issued. This is enforced either via a police check or a carpooling radar machine, depending on the city.

The radar cameras, which can estimate how many people are in a vehicle, have already been installed in Lyon and Grenoble but until now have been in a test phase so no fines had been issued.

In September 2023, the test phase for enforcement via radar went into effect at several new sites initiating the carpooling signs, including Strasbourg, Rennes and Nantes. This test phase for enforcement will last two years, France's environment ministry told Actu Fr.

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In total, a dozen radars will have been distributed across the six cities that have added the carpooling sign to their roads, but local authorities have the power to determine how to enforce the rule during the two-year trial phase. 

The head of management for inter-departmental roads in western France, Fabric Chagnot, told Reporterre that they "won't start issuing fines from the outset." 

"There will be a period of adjustment. For the time being, we're mainly going to be educating people to make sure they understand the new signs".

However, in Lyon, the test period has reportedly ended and drivers now risk a fine if they are caught on camera breaking carpooling rules.

READ MORE: What to do if you get a speeding ticket while driving in France

Drivers are reminded that they will also need a Crit'Air sticker to drive in the bigger towns or cities - including foreign registered cars.

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Comments (1)

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Brad Beck! 2023/08/10 17:19
A very familiar symbol — and restriction — if one has driven in a major American city in the last two decades.

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