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cvabishop

French CRIT'Air Certificate

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The rule is clear Jardinier - but it hasn’t helped to explain how we know whether the rule is in force or not.

That is exactly my point, which you appear to have missed Jardinier.

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Like a lot of rules in France, the common approach would be a gallic shrug and common sense... However, in the event of a pile up on the motorway and if the police can demonstrate that you were exceeding the reasonable speed by quite a margin you would be at fault and your insurance may not cover you. It happened to one of my friends who shunted a car on a dual carriage way. Somehow the gendarmes managed to prove that his speed was not suitable for the driving conditions. "Le conducteur doit rester maitre de son vehicule en toutes circonstances" i.e. the driver must remain in control of the vehicule in all circumstances would be the argument of the police forces.

Speed enforcement will be privatised in the next couple of years. I can really imagine overzealous speed checks becoming the norm.

Edited by crechbleiz

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Just to balance this a little, or course common sense is that when it is raining one naturally drives more slowly, and when it is foggy one naturally drives much more slowly.  So sensible drivers may well find that they naturally obey these rules without even thinking about it.  But it’s more of an issue if the speed limits involved are lower than those at which you would naturally drive.  I’d be interested to know whether police action to enforce a rule drivers are not told about would stand up in court.  Are there any cases where it has?

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58 minutes ago, Jardinier said:

I'm sure that if foreign drivers visit the UK, most Brits would say that they should be familiar with the rules of the road in the UK - like not giving priority to the right, for instance.

Surely in Britain one does give way to the right at roundabouts. Not giving way to the left would be more appropriate as a comparison. 

 

23 minutes ago, Gareth said:

In the UK, where there are roads with variable speed limits, there are signs indicating which speed limit is in force.  Is that the case in France too?  If not, how is one supposed to know?  I cannot judge whether visibility is 45m or 55m by eye, and even if I could my judgment might be different from someone elses.

I've never seen any variable-speed-limit signs in France. However the lines on the side of the road (if they exist) are supposed to help you judge distances. I think each white line represents 50 metres but stand to be corrected. 

And of course there is one rule you should never forget. If driving an Audi you can drive at any speed you like, at any distance you wish from the car in front, overtake on blind bends and must never give way to anybody or stop at pedestrian crossings. 

Ed. 

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1 hour ago, Jardinier said:

 

Equally, Brits visiting France should know the French rules - though they are very unlikely to cause anyone a problem since they are, as in the UK, based on common sense.

 

Jardinier, how can the French « priorité à droite «  be viewed as common sense? How many Brits, or any other tourist for that matter appreciate the triangular sign with a black X in the middle?

French roundabouts may be based on common sense,  but you have to agree the majority of French drivers are still at 6’s and 7’s when it comes to negotiating them....

I understand where Gareth is coming from with his argument, but at the end if the day my common sense tells me that whether visibility is 40m, 50m or a few metres more you slow down immediately and adjust your speed to the conditions in front of you.

Chris

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55 minutes ago, Gareth said:

The rule is clear Jardinier - but it hasn’t helped to explain how we know whether the rule is in force or not.  In the UK, where there are roads with variable speed limits, there are signs indicating which speed limit is in force.  Is that the case in France too?  If not, how is one supposed to know?  I cannot judge whether visibility is 45m or 55m by eye, and even if I could my judgment might be different from someone elses.  So you have misunderstood the point, rather patronisingly if I may say so - it is nothing to do with being willing to follow the rule in force at the time, it is to do with how the rule in force at the time is communicated to drivers.

 

I apologise if I missed the point you were making, but I know, of course, that everyone here is obviously "willing" to follow the law, as otherwise this conversation wouldn't be taking place. I did at least understand that!

And as to how the rule is communicated to drivers, well, there are panels every so often on the motorways (mainly after junctions, though not at all on other major or minor routes) reminding drivers of the speed reduction in rain. And see below re electronic panels.

I'm fully aware of variable speed limits in the UK, too, and generally have found that the speeds shown are inappropriate, largely because whatever incident or eventuality necessitated a reduced speed had long since disappeared. I experienced this only a fortnight ago on the M42. It happens all the time on the motorways around Birmingham, at least.

Am I right in thinking that variable speed limit sections have come about in the UK mainly because the roads are saturated? Whilst this might apply equally around the big towns in France, it generally isn't necessary elsewhere. The French haven't seen fit to invest huge sums in reducing the number of lanes to traffic and causing enormous tailbacks through installing "smart" motorways. On the other hand, they have invested on most motorways in the provision of FM radio stations dedicated to being safe, and as many here will be aware, on 107.7MHz FM they carry traffic bulletins - throughout the motorway network - in both French (and English, at least during the main holiday seasons).

 All that said, there are often "Variable Message Panels" warning of fog patches, accidents ahead, etc., as shown below.

 

variable message panel.jpg

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4 minutes ago, Fine Whine said:

Jardinier, how can the French « priorité à droite «  be viewed as common sense? How many Brits, or any other tourist for that matter appreciate the triangular sign with a black X in the middle?

Hehe! I knew that one would come up! (And yes, Ed, I take the left/right point you make, but I thought it was obvious when I wrote it). Of course, the "Priorité à droite" thing started when there was precious little traffic on the road, and no doubt it should have been changed donkeys years ago. To have abandoned it completely overnight in more recent times would probably have caused chaos. It still applies today, of course, though mainly just in towns, but everyone seems to be pretty wary, whichever direction they're coming from. (Regarding signs, I wonder if the yellow diamond sign is widely known amongst Brit visitors).

However, the discussion here (already off topic as the thread is about Crit'Air) was about rain, fog and speed limits. As Gareth has said above, drivers do generally use their common sense. After all, if there are raindrops on your windscreen, you should be reducing your speed, especially on motorways.

Going back to signage, it surely goes without saying that visitors driving in a foreign country should have made every effort prior to the visit to know that country's road signs. Most are international anyway.

 

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Actually I'm more concerned about enforcement of the rules off motorways. How am I supposed to know if air quality has deteriorated on an ad hoc basis if there are no signs?

Like most Brits, I imagine, I do drive defensively when abroad and if somebody wants to overtake I am happy to let them go by. After all I am on holiday and not wanting to prove anything.

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3 minutes ago, cvabishop said:

Actually I'm more concerned about enforcement of the rules off motorways. How am I supposed to know if air quality has deteriorated on an ad hoc basis if there are no signs?

Like most Brits, I imagine, I do drive defensively when abroad and if somebody wants to overtake I am happy to let them go by. After all I am on holiday and not wanting to prove anything.

So you don't drive a BMW!:D

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Ah yes, indeed Jardinier,  congestion is the main reason why variable speed limits as a concept were introduced.  First on the M25, and now as far as I can see progressively being rolled out onto every stretch of motorway we have.  Occasionally they do work (at achieving steady flow at congested times) but I agree, often inappropriate.  Both ways! Telling you to slow to 40 when 60 is perfectly safe, and telling you you can do 40 when you have been stationary for 15 minutes! :)

Have to confess, I have never understood priorite a droite, and haven't got the faintest idea how you tell when it applies.  If the reduced speed limit in adverse weather is actually just about common sense - both in terms of driver action and police interpretation - then it seems not to be a problem.  Especially if, as has been said, there are lines to guide your judgement of visibility distance.  But if they are enforced not just in cases of recklessness but also at the margins then it is potentially more of an issue.

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The sign in Jardinier's picture seems to have a big square on the left-hand side.  Presumably for advising about reduced speed limits?

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6 minutes ago, cvabishop said:

Actually I'm more concerned about enforcement of the rules off motorways. How am I supposed to know if air quality has deteriorated on an ad hoc basis if there are no signs?

Very good question!

This is all new, of course, and I live in the countryside, but I think you can expect to see signs like the one in this screen-grab I took from a newspaper site with a video clip taken (I think) on the Toulouse ring-road:

 

air pollution sign on gantry.JPG

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9 minutes ago, Gareth said:

The sign in Jardinier's picture seems to have a big square on the left-hand side.  Presumably for advising about reduced speed limits?

The overhead gantry bears an illuminated sign which in this instance concerns the safety of a load.

In the later screen-grab, the sign does indeed indicate a reduction of km/h.

Edit: Oh, I've just understood what you refer to, Gareth. I have no idea what that blank square is for!

Edited by Jardinier

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Interesting sign Jardinier but it appears to indicate a general speed reduction and not one based on what colour disk you are displaying. It all still seems to be confusing.

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23 minutes ago, cvabishop said:

Interesting sign Jardinier but it appears to indicate a general speed reduction and not one based on what colour disk you are displaying. It all still seems to be confusing.

How true!

OK, here's some French taken from a government site:

"Il existe 6 classes de certificats. Le certificat qualité de l’air permet de favoriser les véhicules les moins polluants :

  • modalités de stationnement favorables ;
  • conditions de circulation privilégiées ;
  • possibilité de circuler dans les zones à circulation restreinte (ZCR) ou en cas de pic de pollution.

Le certificat qualité de l’air est obligatoire pour circuler dans les zones à circulation restreinte instaurées par certaines collectivités (Paris) ou pour circuler lorsque le préfet instaure la circulation différenciée lors de certains épisodes de pollution."

So there are (or will be) restricted traffic zones. The local Prefect (government boss (wo)man) can decide on days of serious pollution that local restrictions will apply. When s/he does, there simply would have to be appropriate signage.

Depending on the classification of your vehicle (there are six categories), you may enjoy favourable treatment when it comes to parking, favourable "driving conditions" and permission to drive within a restricted area even during peaks of pollution. I suppose that category six vehicles will largely be excluded from such areas. Perhaps the scheme will evolve eventually to exclude all but the cleanest vehicles.

In fact the categories are based on fuel and on age of vehicle. If it's of any interest, my own car (neither predatory Audi nor bullying BMW!) is a 2.2-litre diesel first registered in 2014 and has a Category 2 Crit'Air classification.

I'm sorry I can't be of more assistance. We need someone here who lives in or regularly travels to one of the cities where the scheme is in force. I live just an hour or so from Toulouse, but as I've spent almost all the last four months in the UK, I haven't had chance to see the system at work.

Edited by Jardinier
Correction of appalling sexism!

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28 minutes ago, Jardinier said:

The overhead gantry bears an illuminated sign which in this instance concerns the safety of a load.

In the later screen-grab, the sign does indeed indicate a reduction of km/h.

Edit: Oh, I've just understood what you refer to, Gareth. I have no idea what that blank square is for!

Err ... The speed reduction sign on the gantry in the next photo I posted does actually show a speed limit in the left-hand square of the sign. Well, I got there eventually ... :(

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7 hours ago, Jardinier said:

Ed, has Nantes adopted the Crit'Air scheme? Can you help us out more?

Not yet as far as I know. I've not heard of a lot of air-quality problems there as there is often a lot of wind to clear it away.

Here is the list of cities/towns having signed up to the scheme aimed at improving air quality. Those in bold are the ones applying the sticker rules (as of the end of 2017):

-----------------------

Avignon - Communauté d’agglomération d’Avignon

Arras - Communauté urbaine d’Arras

Annecy

Annemasse - Communauté d’agglomération d’Annemasse

Bordeaux - Métropole de Bordeaux

Cannes - Communauté d’agglomération du Pays de Lérins – Cannes

Clermont-Ferrand - Métropole de Clermont-Ferrand

Champlan

Côte Basque-Adour - Communauté d’agglomération Côte Basque-Adour

Dunkerque - Communauté urbaine de Dunkerque

Dijon - Communauté urbaine de Dijon

Epernay - Communauté d’agglomération d’Epernay

Faucigny, Glières, Bonneville Communauté de communes Faucigny-Glières-Bonneville

Grenoble - Métropole de Grenoble

Lyon - Métropole de Lyon

Lille - Métropole de Lille

Le Havre - Communauté d’agglomération du Havre

Montpellier - Métropole de Montpellier

Paris - Mission de préfiguration de la Métropole du Grand Paris

Reims - Métropole de Reims

Rouen - Métropole de Rouen

Saint-Etienne - Métropole de Saint-Etienne

Strasbourg Métropole de Strasbourg

Saint Maur-des-Fossés

Toulouse - Métropole de Toulouse

Vallée de la Marne - CA de la Vallée de la Marne

-----------------------

I was near the last town on the list (Marne la Valléé) at the weekend for a visit to Disneyland and had a good look at the cars in the hotel car park. Most were obviously from further afield than Paris and I can say that less than 10% (of those reverse-parked) seemed to be carrying a sticker.

Another point drawn to my attention yesterday is the non-transferability of the sticker. People working for Volkswagen-group companies are currently able to participate in a short-term leasing scheme which aims to increase the stock of recent second-hand models on the market. They lease a brand new model for 6 months then return it and take another etc. The price includes the leasing and insurance and they are limited to 22,000 kms in the 6 months. If they wish to drive in one of the affected cities they therefore need to by a new sticker for each vehicle. It would make more sense for brand new cars to be exempt for the first 4 years until the initial MOT test and the sticker price to be included in the taxes you pay for the new vehicle. Logically any new car sold is going to be the cleanest technology available (Euro 6?) so should fall into the lowest available bracket for that fuel type.

Ed
 

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21 hours ago, Gareth said:

The price has been reduced (effective from 1 March).  I just paid €4.20 (including postage).  The official price is €3.11 plus postage.

My certificate has been issued - less than 24 hours after application, very efficient.

I was rather hoping it would be colour-coordinated with the car so it looks nice! 😉

However, it’s going to be a yellow one.  No idea what the practical implications of the colour are, but on the flip side, set against the lovely deep royal blue of the car, no gendarme is going to miss it! 😁

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25 minutes ago, Gareth said:

However, it’s going to be a yellow one.  No idea what the practical implications of the colour are, but on the flip side, set against the lovely deep royal blue of the car, no gendarme is going to miss it!

There are several things to consider here to guarantee success:

That you go anywhere near one of the 7 cities on the list (and most of them are in eastern France well away from BF-served ports), that you do so on a day when pollution levels are above acceptable levels, that the Prefect decides to enforce the rules, that it's not a weekend or an extended-holiday weekend, that the Gendarmes even bother to check your car, that they have some sort of tool to scan the QR code, that said tool is actually working, and most crucially that you clean your windscreen so the code can actually be read. 

Other than that, it's €4.20 well spent.

Ed

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10 hours ago, Gareth said:

Have to confess, I have never understood priorite a droite, and haven't got the faintest idea how you tell when it applies.

Gareth,

This signal means you approach the next junction with extreme trepidation....

France_road_sign_AB1svg.jpg

Sorry it's so large....

When you see one of these, whether in towns and cities or down a remote country lane be aware that at the next intersection joining from the right the vehicle coming out of said junction has priority - and don't they know it!

B9.jpg

 This is the sign Jardinier is referring to; it means the lane you are in has priority over all other traffic whether entering from the left or right.

Clear now?

Chris

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Thanks Chris, completley!

The thing that perplexes me now is how the heck I have managed to be driving in France for the last 26 years without causing a crash! 🤣

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I remember being at a roundabout in Pont l Abbé when leaving E leclerc want sure if I had priority or not the guy behind me was sure I had and blasted his horn then proceeded to get out the car presumably to have a go at me for waiting anyway the guy behind him got out and the pair almost came to fisty cuffs whilst I drove away , thanks for the conscise explanation Chris it’s helpful.

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I remember being at a roundabout in Pont l Abbé when leaving E leclerc

We were in that area last year, almost every junction seems to have its little roundabout now. It did seem to keep the trafic moving though.

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