By Laura Thomson
There has long been speculation amongst drivers as to whether tucking into a quick snack behind the wheel can really land you with a criminal conviction.
In England it is down to a policemen’s own discretion on whether to charge motorists with driving without due care and attention, and largely centres on whether a person’s driving has been affected by them eating, smoking or partaking in other distracting activities behind the wheel.
However, UK drivers travelling to France are warned to be on their best behaviour, following a crackdown on distracted drivers.
Announced on June 18 by the country’s interior minister, a new article in France’s ‘Code de la route’ will see fines and points handed out to drivers, motorcyclists and cyclists found to be distracted by eating, drinking or listening to excessively loud music, in an effort to reduce road death figures.
Earpieces and headphones are now completely illegal for all road users. The road security body states: “This measure aims to avoid road users isolating themselves from their outside environment and losing their concentration due to using earphones.”
Laws against driving whilst applying make-up or partaking in other distracting habits have not been specified in Article R.412-6, however motorists can be still be handed fines for doing so.
Eric de Caumont, a lawyer who specialises in rights of the road told French newspaper Le Parisien: “No text stipulates that it is illegal to apply make-up, to eat a sandwich or to drive with a dog on your lap, but the forces of order can nevertheless hand you a traffic violation ticket if they estimate that these actions impede on your manoeuvres or your visibility.”
The new legislation came into affect on July 1, with fines ranging from €75 (£53) for eating or applying make-up to €1,500 (£1,063) and three penalty points for using any digital device other than a sat nav. Drivers caught under the influence of drugs or alcohol face a fine of €4,500 (£3,190) and six points on their licence.