European Driving Guide

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Driving Guide

FRANCE - Breathalysers

In July 2012 the French announced that drivers must carry a breathalyser or, from November 2012, be fined €11. You still have to carry the breathalyser but the fine has been postponed twice and was shelved in January 2013. The breathalyser must be unused and show the French certification mark NF.  It has to be in date too. Single-use breathalysers normally only last 12 months so check yours if you bought it for a trip last year and didn’t use it.

FRANCE - Sat nav and speed camera alerts

  • It’s long been the case that you’re not allowed to carry or use a speed camera detector in France.
  • You could be fined up to €1,500 or even have your vehicle taken away.
  • The law was extended to cover satnav and any other GPS-based system in 2012.
  • If your satnav can show fixed speed cameras, then you’ll have to disable alerts before you drive in France.
  • You may need to contact the satnav manufacturer for a software or database update to remove French camera data.

EUROPE - Low emission zones

Air quality in urban areas is an important issue and more than 200 cities in 10 countries across Europe are now operating Low Emission Zones where the most polluting vehicles are either banned or charged an access fee. If you're planning a road trip you’ll want to know where these LEZ are, what types of vehicle they affect, what emissions standards are required, and whether registration is required or not.

Most of the LEZ only affect vans and lorries but some, like those in France, Germany and Italy, affect cars too.

Low Emission Zones, also known as environment zones have many different names:

  • Umweltzonen (Germany)
  • Milieuzones (Netherlands)
  • Lavutslippssone (Norway)
  • Miljozone (Denmark)
  • Miljözon (Sweden)

For the very latest on low emission zones, in English and for every European country, visit Urban Access Regulations in Europe.

Other driving restrictions

As well as LEZ areas, there are other access restrictions in European towns and cities.
Pollution isn't the only issue caused by heavy traffic – other restrictions are in place to control noise or protect historic buildings.

FRANCE - Order your CRIT'Air clean air sticker early if you expect to be driving in Paris

Paris, Lyon and Grenoble have recently been added to the growing number of low emissions zones.

If you plan to drive within the restricted area in one of these cities you'll have to display a Vignette (sticker) in your windscreen.

Without the sticker you could be fined but we're hearing reports that the French authorities are struggling to cope with demand for Vignettes resulting in significant delay beyond the estimated 30-day delivery time.

Crit air

EUROPE - Winter Driving (October/November to March/April)

To meet the legal requirements of some countries over the winter months you may need a vehicle with special tyres and/or snow chains. Plus, on some roads is it a legal requirement to at least CARRY chains over the winter months. Click here for more information.

Grip Control:
When the Grip Control button is activated, working in slow motion conditions, this special patented control system manages all 4-wheels together with the steering wheel angle and brakes, to keep the best grip possible. When it is combined with the M+S tyres you receive improved grip and traction in icy or snow conditions, when travelling at speeds of below 80km/hr. Note: you would normally purchase chains as well, for additional traction when the road conditions are particularly severe.

Citroen Note: if you wish to collect your vehicle from Frankfurt or Munich between 1 November and 31 March you must book the Citroën Berlingo GRIP SELECTION (Group 22) This vehicle meets the legal requirements for vehicles requiring special tyres. It comes with Mud & Snow tyres + Grip Control technology.

Peugeot Note: 
Standard tyres are not suitable for all winter conditions and during certain periods of the year. In some countries it is a requirement by law that all vehicles are equipped with winter tyres between November and March. Peugeot Open Europe does not lease or sell snow ‘winter’ tyres. It is the client’s responsibility to purchase appropriate ‘winter tyres’ whilst overseas and have them fitted and removed at an authorised Peugeot dealer. Snow chains can be prepaid with globalCARS prior to departure and supplied by Peugeot Sodexa at time of collection, however they are not suitable for highway driving. Mud & Snow Tyres with Grip Control can be requested on certain vehicles; contact globalCARS for full details.

Renault Note: Your car is delivered with the standard tyres Renault has chosen as a proper match for the vehicle you will be leasing. Those tires allow the car to be driven in total safety under normal road conditions in France. Depending on the area in Europe where your driving might be concentrated, by such tyres may however limit your ability to drive under certain conditions.
The Dacia Duster & Renault Kadjar come with Mud & Snow tyres.

General Notes: 2010 European guidelines require all passenger cars and motorbikes including vehicles from foreign countries to be fitted with winter tyres or all season tyres on all axles when conditions are wintry. Winter tyres (or 'all season' tyres) should bear the mark M+S* or the snowflake symbol on the side wall.

Snow chains must be fitted on at least two drive wheels. In any country Snow chains may only be used where there's sufficient snow covering to avoid any possibility of damage to the road surface. A fine may be imposed if damage is caused.
Winter tyres, marked M+S* (with or without spikes/studs), with a tread depth of at least 3mm are compulsory from 1 December until 31 March for Swedish registered vehicles and trailers and also for foreign registered vehicles.
Between 15 October and 15 April or at other times if conditions dictate. Provinces can introduce their own legislation making the use of winter tyres and snow chains compulsory.