France to issue virtual driving licences to British and other foreign motorists


Henry Samuel Paris

November 13, 2015

France is to create points-based “virtual” driving licences for “foreign” drivers on French roads, who could see their cars confiscated if they lose them

France is to issue “virtual licences” for British and other foreign motorists who will be banned from driving in the country if they lose them and have their cars confiscated if they flout the ban.

It will also create a black list of foreign drivers who have failed to pay traffic fines.

The crackdown on foreign drivers was one of a battery of measures the French government unveiled on Friday in a bid to reverse a worrying rise in road accidents in France.

Accidents increased last year for the first time in 12 years and rocketed by almost 20 per cent in the month of July compared to 2014.

“The roads of France cannot be a cemetery,” said Manuel Valls, the prime minister. He also announced the country would introduce 10,000 “fake” speed cameras to scare motorists into slowing down and experiment with drones to keep an aerial lookout for dangerous drivers.

As part of its 22-point plan, France will roll out an additional 500 “real” speed traps over the next three years bringing the overall total to 4,700. Private contractors, not the police, will operate mobile radars.

Some 3,384 people died on French roads last year, a 3.5 per cent rise, suggesting the government faces an uphill struggle sticking to its stated aim of bringing the annual death toll down to 2,000 by 2020.

Foreigners only account for 6.7 per cent of the drivers on French roads but were involved in 12.5 per cent of traffic offences last year – some 3.13 million cases.

Mr Valls said the “virtual driving licence” for foreigners will function “exactly like a French licence” but did not go into more detail.

Under an EU directive outlined in April, British drivers caught on camera exceeding speed limits in France and other EU countries will no longer be able to avoid fines under new rules to come into force from 2017.

Half-a-million British motorists are flashed by speed cameras in France each year. French police do not currently try to collect fines, although they do impose on-the-spot penalties if they stop British motorists who are speeding.

It is difficult for them to track down those caught on camera because Britain opted out of a 2011 EU directive on road safety.

Britain – along with Ireland and Denmark, which also opted out of the earlier directive – will have until May 2017 to enforce the new one.

The French police say many foreign drivers break speed limits because they know they can avoid fines. The new directive will also allow the UK authorities to target European motorists who commit offences in Britain.

However, a much higher number of British drivers are believed to avoid penalties abroad.

British drivers who commit offences in cars hired in France already face fines, which can be taken from the credit card they used to rent the car.

Last year, the AA said there was already evidence that French police were targeting British drivers with a disproportionate number of speed cameras on roads to Channel ports.

Among the other French measures are tougher sentences for drivers using false licences or uninsured vehicles; a €650 (£480) penalty on companies who fail to communicate the name of an employee who commits a traffic offence in a company vehicle, and more widespread use of ignition interlock devices, or car breathalysers, for drink drive offenders.

This article was written by Henry Samuel Paris from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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