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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8 comments on “Vous êtes nicked! British drivers face hefty fines for speeding abroad

  1. Terry Graham October 7, 2017 9:32 am

    Dash board sticker, with country`s speed limit, plus easy conversion comparison also on the sticker to be made to carry in EU emergency kit. ???

  2. Terry Graham October 7, 2017 9:38 am

    Dash board sticker, as part of EU emergency kit,containing EU country`s speed limits and speedlimits in Kph — Mph. ???

  3. Chris North. October 7, 2017 10:59 am

    I have a little card which I stick on the dashboard when I am abroad which says
    130–80
    110- 70 etc. as there are numerous speed limits – up comes a sign 30 – I glance at my card and drop down to 18mph. Simple, but SO useful. Also if you have it, use Cruise control; especially useful on Autoroutes and N roads with numerous villages. So many are 30km now.

  4. Howard |Kilner October 7, 2017 9:58 pm

    My car, a Volvo V40, will show digital speeds in kilometres, so there’s no excuse. If yours doesn’t, just learn the conversions; 50 kph = just over 30 mph, but if you take it as 30 mph, you will be safe, Just follow the 5 over 8 rule; it’s not hard.

  5. D.J.Eaton October 8, 2017 9:17 pm

    You state that British drivers cant convert mph into kph Sorry but that’s Nonsense as all speedos for many years on Motorcycles{Digital Speedo Press a Button to Change between mph & kph} and Cars Display both….In the UK a speedometer main display is MPH but inside or underneath displays KPH and on the Continent of Europe this is Reversed Hence No working out or Converting so no Excuse just Lies or Stupidity..

  6. Tony October 13, 2017 7:02 am

    Why do we need to convert Kph to mph? The speedometer in all my cars had both kph and mph; you just need to remember to look at the right markings – much easier than trying to convert on the fly. And if you hire a car in Europe that must surely have a speedometer in kph.

  7. Nigel Harris October 14, 2017 10:16 am

    A rough guide to converting Kph to Mph is to just multiply the first Kph digit by six this gives one a pretty accurate guide to your speed ie 50Kph = 5x 6 =30Mph;100Kph = 10 x 6 = 60Mph;National speed limits are usually 90Kph = 9 x 6 = 54Mph and safe

  8. David Walland October 17, 2017 1:45 pm

    I’ve driven widely in Europe – recently, mostly in Spain and find that having my satnav on and set to metric allows me to have the best chance of staying within the speed limit. However, especially in towns, the complete disregard for the speed limits shown by the locals, can make it very difficult, when you are concentrating on the other road users and not keeping half an eye on the satnav. I always have mine set to audibly warn me when I break the local limit but can be concentrating so hard at times that I don’t hear the warning. I lived in Denmark for 4 years have driven to the far side of Germany on several occasions, have towed a caravan to Poland and back, last year drove from the north of Spain to the south and back. I’ve driven in France, Belgium, Luxemburgh, and Czech Republic, so although not a professional driver, can claim a fair amount of experience. Spain is perhaps the hardest to keep to speed limits as they have so many daft ones wherever a side turning meets a main road and approaching and leaving roundabouts. Here you’re likely to be collided with if you actually comply with the speed limit!

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