New French rules and regulations: Buckle up and put down that sandwich!
Life slightly changed in France as of July 1st, 2015, with everything from driving rules, dodgy parking and family allowance payments affected. Here’s what you need to know.
According to the Interior Ministry, in 2014 the number of deaths on French roads rose by 3.7% – to a total of 3,388 people, including 503 pedestrians (8%+) and 158 cyclists (7%+). The year 2013 saw the least fatalities from car accidents since 1948; prior to 2014, deaths on French roads have been in near decline (except for 2001) since 1978, when some 18,000 people were victims of traffic accidents.
Many of the most important changes are in the area of road safety as the government is resolute in meeting the target of less than 2,000 deaths per year.
For a start, headphones and other wireless earpieces are now forbidden when driving.
The measure also applies to scooters and cyclists, who are no longer allowed to stick their phones under their helmets, as many are prone to do.
Basically if you want to talk on the phone while driving, you’ll have to use the car speakers via Bluetooth or put the phone on loudspeaker. Anyone who doesn’t respect the new rules faces a €135 fine.
Photo: Leigh Wolf
The latest measures also include a ban on eating sandwiches at the wheel, putting on make-up or listening to loud music, which could result in a €75 fine. It’s all designed to allow drivers in France to improve their concentration levels, which can’t be a bad thing.
No drink-driving for new drivers
France continues to crack down on drink-driving, especially among youngsters. July 1st saw the alcohol limit for young drivers cut to 0.2g/l. Basically meaning they can’t have a drink at all before getting behind the wheel.
Anyone who does and gets caught will get six points on their licence. The measure concerns those who have been driving for less than three years.
Parking charges and fines
The cost of parking your car is no longer charged on an hourly basis. Parking machines are now set so that tariffs go up every quarter of an hour. Don’t expect parking to get any cheaper however, as many providers have simply bumped up their rates. Lots of people complain about French drivers parking anywhere and the government is trying to crack down. Those caught leaving their cars on pavements or in cycle lanes or pedestrian crossings now face a €135 fine, that’s an increase of €100.
No smoking with kids in car
It’s now against the law to smoke in a car where a child younger than 12 years of age is present. If you do, you face a €68 fine. Smoking in outdoor play areas for children is also now banned.
Family allowances cut for the most well-off
Those couples with two children who earn more than €6,000 a month net will see their family allowances (Allocations familiales) cut in two, to around €65 from €129. Those who earn €8,000 a month net will see the allowance cut by three quarters. Around 485,000 families will be affected, though they won’t notice the cut till their payment arrives in August.
Gas prices to be cut by 1.3%
Another cut in gas prices is good news for customers of provider Engie (formerly GDF Suez).
Foods to carry allergy warnings
From now on prepackaged foods must carry warnings for 14 different substances that could provoke a reaction for consumers who are either allergic or intolerant. Restaurants will also have to warn clients of the products either on the menus or clearly within the premises.
Asbestos limits lowered
Legal limits for the amount of asbestos that construction workers are exposed to in old buildings have been cut tenfold in a bid to reduce the number of diseases it causes each year in France – estimated to be around 5,000.
Self-testing kits for Aids
You can now carry out a test for the Aids virus without having to go to a clinic, with kits available in pharmacies.
Prices for pills
The labels on medication and pills have been altered so that the prices are much clearer, as well as how the cost of each medication is reimbursed, either by the state or the mutuelle.