Vous êtes nicked! British drivers face hefty fines for speeding abroad

Speeding abroad

If that’s a speeding ticket he’s writing, it could blow the holiday budget

More than four out of five British drivers are oblivious to tough new fines for speeding abroad. Just weeks after UK speeding fines changed in April 2017, the EU increased the penalty for breaking the limit on the Continent. That means drivers could be fined up to £640. Other motoring offences, such as not wearing a seatbelt and using a mobile phone at the wheel, are covered by the law change too.

When UK drivers were asked by Green Flag about their driving habits , the largest proportion (45 per cent) said they broke the speed limit abroad by mistake. And more than a third (38 per cent) claimed they find themselves speeding abroad because they don’t know the limits.

Driving abroad: what are the speed limits?

Inconveniently, European countries don’t have a uniform speed limit for their various roads. In France, the legal motorway maximum is 130kph (81mph). But if it’s raining that’s reduced to 110kph (69mph). On Germany’s Autobahns the speed limit varies too. Although they’re famous for being derestricted, that actually only applies to around half the network. On many stretches of Autobahn, the limit is 130kph (81mph). The speed limit in and around towns abroad can vary too, from 50kph (31mph) to 30kph (18mph) in residential areas.

European speed limits in mph

Motorways Main roads Urban Residential
France 69-81mph 56mph 31mph 18mph
Spain 69mph 56mph 31mph 18mph
Italy 81mph 56mph 31mph 31mph
Belgium 74mph 56mph 31mph 18mph
Germany Derestricted or 81mph 62mph 31mph 18mph

Why British drivers speed

In addition to the drivers who break the law by mistake or through ignorance, one in five (19 per cent) admitted they couldn’t work out the difference between kilometres per hour (kph) and miles per hour. Six per cent of drivers admitted causing an accident while driving in Europe through excess speed. Worryingly this is because they either didn’t know the speed limits or the metric conversions confused them.

The Green Flag survey found that 69 per cent of UK drivers can’t correctly convert kph into mph. A simple way of remembering is that miles per hour is 5/8ths or just more than half of the kilometres per hour figure.

Speeding abroad

The fine might be in Euros but it can now follow you back to the UK

Foreign fines can follow you home

Many European countries such as France operate a penalty system of on-the-spot fines. And if you don’t have enough cash, French police accept all major credit cards. Even if drivers are snapped by a speed camera, the offence could follow them home. In 2015 the law was changed so European authorities can get drivers’ details from the DVLA database. It’s something British drivers aren’t happy about. According to the Green Flag report, only two fifths (38 per cent) of Brits say they’d definitely pay a European fine if caught speeding on the Continent.

Despite this new law, British authorities can’t trace Europeans who speed on our soil. That’s because British law makes the driver of the vehicle at the time of the offence responsible. In Europe, it’s the vehicle’s registered keeper. This is something the majority of British drivers think is wrong. European tourists should be fined for speeding in the UK according to four out of five Brits (81 per cent).


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