Third of UK drivers unaware of French emissions fines

Third of UK drivers unaware of French emissions fines
As more French cities sign up to the country’s clean air scheme, new RAC research shows a third of motorists heading there soon are not familiar with the regulations.

RAC European Breakdown is urging anyone planning on driving in France this year to check now if they are affected by the latest emissions rules, or else risk a near-certain fine of around £123.

Joining early adopters Paris, Grenoble and Lyon, the city of Lille – 90 minutes’ drive from Calais – as well as 11 other districts are now joined up to the Crit’Air scheme, applying restrictions for certain vehicles during so-called ‘pollution peaks’.

In some cases certain vehicles are even banned outright from entering built-up areas, so it’s imperative that drivers know what to expect before heading to the continent.

READ MORE: Crit'Air clean air stickers - need to know for driving in France

Any drivers heading to the participating French districts must now display a £4.40 sticker, or vignette, on their windscreen showing their vehicle’s green credentials, based on its Euro emissions category (Euro 1 to Euro 6).

The RAC has produced a table to help motorists understand which Euro emissions category their vehicle falls into.

While the cleanest cars and vans sport green stickers, the dirtiest eligible for the scheme must display dark grey versions.

It is then up to the city or town involved how they wish to impose restrictions on access, and at which times, as they bid to improve local air quality. Any vehicles that don’t qualify for a sticker also face restrictions.

There are also plans afoot for the likes of Strasbourg and Bordeaux to employ their own restrictions by the end of this year.

RAC European Breakdown spokesman Rod Dennis encourages all British drivers taking their vehicles to France to apply now for a Crit’Air sticker via the official French Government website, which has an English language option.

According to reports in France, already almost 50,000 UK drivers have applied.

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The RAC’s Mr Dennis says that “only time will tell” how effective the French scheme will prove, but that it’s vital anyone heading there knows it is expanding.

He explains that drivers only need apply once for their sticker, which stays with the vehicle, so anyone planning a trip should simply apply now.

He said: “It’s also important to remember that France is in effect operating two different types of emission control schemes, both of which rely on vehicles displaying a Crit’Air sticker. Paris and Grenoble have started operating permanent schemes that apply to particular times during the week, while others such as Lyon and Lille currently only use emergency schemes – giving the cities power to ban vehicles when pollution is expected to reach a certain level.

“But we expect as time moves on that an increasing number of towns and cities will probably opt for permanent schemes.

“Drivers should ensure they apply only via the official French government website as the RAC is aware of a number of third party websites that sell the same sticker for substantially more money. A scan (or photo) of the car’s registration form will need to be uploaded, and it will also be necessary to check the Euro emissions category of the vehicle.”

Copyright Press Association 2017. Motoring News articles do not reflect the RAC's views unless clearly stated.