EXPLAINED: The new sign appearing on French roads

If you have been driving in France you might have noticed a new sign appearing on the autoroutes - here's what it means and what you need to do.

EXPLAINED: The new sign appearing on French roads
Image: Vinci autoroutes

Motorway operators have begun introducing new signage to remind drivers about a safety rule when driving on the country’s autoroutes.

The rule itself was actually introduced in 2018, but it seems that few drivers are aware of it – leading to the installation of signs on major routes across France.

This is what it looks like:

Image: Vinci

It refers to the ‘safety corridor’ law, which was added to the Code de la route (highway code) in 2018.

This refers to the rule that if a vehicle is parked or going slowly on the hard shoulder, drivers approaching in the right hand lane should slow down and switch lanes to the centre or left lane, if it is safe to do so. 

It was introduced after a space of accidents in which highways workers died while working on the hard shoulder, after vehicles travelling on the inside lane crashed into them.

QUIZ How well do you know French driving laws?

The Code says: “The safety corridor consists of a virtual barrier that all drivers must respect as soon as they approach personnel intervening on the side of a road.

“In concrete terms, when a vehicle equipped with special lights, or any other vehicle whose driver is using its hazard warning lights, is stopped or travelling at a slow speed on a hard shoulder or emergency stop strip, any driver travelling on the right-hand edge of the road must, on approaching it, reduce their speed in accordance with Article R. 413-17 and change lanes after ensuring that he can do so safely.

“If it is not possible to change lanes, the driver must keep as far away as possible from the vehicle while remaining in his lane.”

Failure to comply with this rule is a traffic offence and can result in a €135 fine.

READ ALSO The French driving offences that can cost you points on your licence

The new road signs appear in sets of three, around 300m apart, reminding drivers of the steps they should take.

Je ralentis – I slow down

Je m’éloigne – I am moving away

Je change de voie si possible – I change lanes if it is possible to do do

These steps apply only if you see a vehicle either parked or moving slowly on the hard shoulder – it applies to highways employees but also private vehicles such as a broken-down car.

READ ALSO French road signs – take the test

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