Health Information Point Blog
USEFUL NEWS ON HEALTH and SAFETY ISSUES IN FRANCE
EDITED BY PAT HANDSLIP
CHANGES TO FRENCH LAW FROM JULY 1 2015
Road safety rules:
Many of the most important changes are in the area of road safety.
For a start, headphones and other wireless earpieces are now forbidden when driving.
The measure also applies to scooters and cyclists, who will no longer be allowed to stick their phones under their helmets as many are prone to do.
Basically if you want to talk on the phone while driving, you’ll have to use the car speakers via Bluetooth or put the phone on loud speaker. Anyone who doesn’t respect the new rules faces a €135 fine.
The new laws also include a ban on eating sandwiches at the wheel, putting on make-up or listening to loud music, which could result in a €75 fine. It's all designed to allow drivers in France to improve their concentration levels, which can't be a bad thing.
Near zero tolerance for new drivers drinking
France continues to crack down on drink-driving and especially among youngsters. A new measure brought in on July 1st sees the alcohol limit for young drivers cut to 0.2g/l. Basically, it means they can’t have a drink at all before getting behind the wheel.
Anyone who does and gets caught will get six points on their license. The measure concerns those who have been driving for less than three years.
The cost of parking your car will no longer be charged on an hourly basis. Parking machines will now be set so that tariffs go up every quarter of an hour. Don’t expect parking to get any cheaper however as many providers have simply bumped up their rates.
Fines go up for dodgy parking
Many people complain about French drivers parking anywhere and the government is trying to crack down. Those caught leaving their cars on pavements or in cycle lanes or pedestrian crossings now face a €135 fine, that’s an increase of €100.
No smoking with kids in car
No, seriously, it is now against the law to smoke in a car where a child younger than 12 years of age is present. If you do, you face a €68 fine. Smoking in outdoor play areas for children is also now banned.
Foods to carry allergy warnings
From now on pre-packaged foods must carry warnings for 14 different substances that could provoke a reaction for consumers who are either allergic or intolerant. Restaurants will also have to warn clients of the products either on the menus or clearly within the premises.
Prices for pills
The labels on medication and pills will be altered so that the prices are made much clearer as well as how the cost of each medication is reimbursed, either by the state or the “mutuelle”.
The Local, Jul 1
Driving in Europe: the rules of the game
In terms of Highway Codes, the European Union hasn’t quite harmonized its rules yet. So once you leave the comfort of your own country, here’s what you need to know to drive safely and legally all over Europe…
There are 28 member states in Europe today, each of which has its own Highway Code. Thankfully, however, road signs vary very little as all the member states have signed the Vienna Convention of 1968, which lists all the road signs of the world. The colour and icons can however vary from country to country, otherwise read on…
Don’t forget before leaving
- A valid passport.
- A valid full driving license. An international driving permit (translated into three languages minimum, English, Spanish and Russian) is not compulsory, but can prove useful, in the event of an accident for example, and may smooth out some dealings with local authorities.
- Vehicle registration papers.
- Motor insurance certificate. An international green card is not compulsory within the EU, but it is internationally recognised and can thus speed up the process in the event of an accident.
- A European Accident Notification.
- Indication of the country of origin on the number plates. Alternatively, can you purchase a sticker.
Similarities and differences with the UK
- The minimum driving age is 18 throughout Europe (unlike Ireland and the UK, where it is 17). Learner drivers are not allowed to drive outside their country of origin.
- Throughout most of Europe, vehicles drive on the right, with the exception of Cyprus, Ireland, Malta and the UK. We recommend having a left-hand wing mirror fitted if you don’t already have one to facilitate overtaking and improve safety.
- It is compulsory to wear a seatbelt in the front and the rear of the car, including for coach and minibus passengers since May 2006. Motorcyclists and their passengers must wear a helmet.
- It is illegal to use your mobile phone while driving in the EU. Hands-free sets are however tolerated, with the exception of Greece, Ireland and Spain.
- Vehicles in Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Italy (on motorways and main roads), Latvia, Lithuania (from 01/09 to 31/03), Poland, Portugal (on the IP5), Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden must switch on their passing lights while driving in the day. France and the Netherlands simply recommend this practice. Drivers from the UK and Ireland must equip their headlights with beam converters to compensate for driving on the other side of the road.
- Motorways have tolls in many European Union countries: Austria, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain. In Austria, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, drivers must buy a tax sticker for the windscreen that can be purchased at the border or in petrol stations.
- In Spain, all vehicles must be equipped with two warning triangles that are placed in front and behind the vehicle should you break down on the road. In Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Portugal and the United Kingdom, one triangle is sufficient. Failure to have such equipment in your vehicle can lead to a fine that can vary from €15 to140 depending on the country.
- Reflective safety jackets in line with EU 471 norm are compulsory in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain. The jacket must be inside the car itself and not in the boot. In some countries, such as Germany, Italy and Spain, you must have enough jackets for each person in the car.
- A first-aid kit is compulsory in some countries such as Austria, Germany and the United Kingdom.
- You must also have a set of spare light bulbs if you are driving in Denmark, Italy and Spain and Belgium also requires all vehicles to carry a fire extinguisher.
Speed limits around Europe
The following are the current speed limits in EU countries. Drivers should also be aware that some countries have lower limits for “young” drivers and/or in the case of bad weather.
- In built-up areas, the speed limit is 50 kph (31 mph), with the exception of the United Kingdom, where it is slightly lower (48 kph/30 mph), Poland at night-time (60 kph/37 mph) and Slovakia (60 kph/37 mph).
- On dual carriageways, the speed limit is 80 kph/50 mph (Cyprus, Denmark, Ireland, Malta, Netherlands), 90 kph/56 mph (Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain). There are four exceptions to this rule: Austria and Germany (100 kph/62 mph), Sweden (70 kph/43 mph) and the United Kingdom (96 kph/70 mph).
- Some countries authorize higher speeds on express roads: 90-100 kph/56-62 mph in Sweden, 100 kph/62 mph in Finland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Spain, 110 kph/68mph Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy and 112 kph/60 mph in the United Kingdom.
- On motorways, the speed limit is 100 kph/62 mph in Cyprus, 110 kph/68 mph in Sweden, 112 kph/69 mph in the United Kingdom, 120 kph/75 mph in Belgium, Bulgaria, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Netherlands, Poland and Spain and finally 130 kph/80 mph in Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany (where some sections don’t have speed limits), Hungary, Italy (some sections are limited to 150 kph/93 mph), Lithuania, Luxemburg, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
Driving over the authorised speed limit can lead to fines which vary between €10 and 3,000 depending on the speed and the country concerned. The harshest member states in terms of speed limits today are Belgium and Portugal, followed by Denmark and Italy. You may be interested to know that drivers in Finland are fined according to their income. So, a “simple” speeding ticket can cost tens of thousands of euros to wealthy Finnish drivers!
The blood alcohol content (BAC) limit when driving is 0.5 grams/litre in 15 of the 27 member states. The exceptions are:
- Zero tolerance (0 g/l): Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary and Slovakia.
- 0.2 g/l BAC: Poland and Sweden.
- 0.4 g/l BAC: Lithuania.
- 0.5 g/l BAC: Cyprus and Ireland.
- 0.8 g/l BAC: Malta and the United Kingdom.
Whatever the country, drivers tested with BAC levels above the legal level face fines that vary from several hundred to several thousand euros and can also expect to be prosecuted in some cases.
How are such offences dealt with?
Drivers who do not respect the speed limits or authorised BAC levels will generally be required to pay a fine on the spot to ensure they pay. If you aren’t actually pulled over, there are two possibilities: either the authorities forward the fine to your country of origin, particularly true of Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Luxemburg, or they “drop” the matter and you won’t have to pay the fine. Whatever the case, you will not lose any points off your driving license. In terms of parking fines, the risk of being tracked down is minimal because most fines under €70 are dropped in the case of foreign drivers. However, to ensure motorists pay their fines, some countries don’t hesitate to impound vehicles. A radical but effective solution.
In the event of an accident?
Your motor insurance should cover you with the same guarantees as if you were in your country of origin. We nonetheless recommend contacting your insurance firm to see whether any suspensive clauses apply. In the event of an accident, you must declare the accident to the National Office of Vehicle Insurance of the country concerned (ask your insurance firm), which will indemnify all the victims of the accident before contacting the insurance firm of the person responsible for the accident. Important: whatever the event (accident, vandalism, theft), you have to make a declaration to your insurance firm within 48 hours to 5 days (depending on the contract). Check with your insurance firm.
For more information about legislation in the different countries, we recommend consulting the following motoring sites:
From VIA MICHELIN online magazine:
Flip-flops driver lands €90 fine
GENDARMES in the Haute-Garonne have fined a woman €90 for driving in flip-flops.
The driver, from Toulouse, was stopped for a random roadside check on a departmental road when officers noticed her choice of footwear.
She told local paper La Dépêche du Midi that she thought the officer was joking at first.
Article 412-6 of the French highway code says drivers must be in a position to "execute all necessary manoeuvres conveniently and without delay".
The gendarme issued the fine on the grounds that flip-flops come off too easily and could get jammed under a pedal.
Last year, France's Supreme Court issued a judgment against wearing high heels at the wheel.
From the CONNEXION …
LATEST REFORMS TO FRENCH HEALTH SYSTEM TO BE IMPLEMENTED IN 2015-2017 …
Organ donation register: The new reforms say that people should have to sign up to NOT be on the organ donor list. France currently works on a system of assumed consent, but if the reform gets through, French people will have to sign a national registry saying they don't want their organs donated to circumvent this. It would come into place in 2018.
Cancer survivors' right to be forgotten: Touraine's reforms say that anyone in France who is 100 percent cured from cancer has the right to have their medical record "forgotten". This means that when they're applying for jobs or requesting loans, they can avoid any potential forms of discrimination
Alert after spider bites in southern France
Two local women have emergency surgery to avoid the spread of flesh-eating venom after being bitten by tiny spiders hidden in their trousers.
The two women were bitten on separate occasions, in the Herault and Gard départements.
Sandra, age 32 – was bitten by a spider hidden in the leg of her trousers, as she pulled them on while getting ready for work. The bite mark, at the top of her leg, immediately turned red and blue and began to spread.
The same thing happened a week earlier in Montpellier, where another a young woman in the process getting dressed was bitten by a spider hidden also inside the leg of her trousers.
According to surgeon Christian Herlin, she was left with a 10cm scar after being operated on.
The culprit is the brown recluse spider, also known as the fiddleback; a species native to North America but which has been recorded in France over the last 15 years.
It measures only a centimetre and a half, but its bite packs a punch, with venom that causes necrosis, or cell death, of the skin tissue.
After a bite a surgeon must remove the damaged tissue to prevent this spreading.
A quick look at Google Images under the search term "brown recluse spiders bite" leaves you in no doubt how bad things can get if you are unfortunate enough to be bitten.
The brown recluse is only dangerous when disturbed and likes to settle where it won't be found, in dark, quiet places such as cellars, attics and cupboards – hence its moniker.
The Local, Jul 9
Last year 11 cases of indigenous chikungunya were detected in Montpellier after tiger mosquito bites.
So, for that it is time to start stalking in our gardens and encouraging our neighbours to do the same.
Hunting out standing water, empty vessels, cover rainwater reserves with nets are all essential actions today.
You can use an insecticide based on BTI or as cover water reserves with an oil film.
You can also ask the EID technicians to move into your neighbourhood to explain the precautions necessary to kill the larvae of the tiger mosquito right now. The application can be made by mail or phone.
From the Languedoc Living webpaper.
Tighter Controls over Nuisance Calls
Thursday 02 July 2015
The French government are to introduce an official telephone preference service to protect telephone users from unwanted direct marketing calls.
In recent years, companies who plague households with direct marketing calls have become a major problem in France, in much the same way as has occurred in many other parts of the world.
For those who have not taken any steps to protect themselves against such calls it is not unusual for them to receive several calls a day from companies or call centres prospecting business.
Those who do make the calls frequently claim to be acting in a quasi-official capacity, such as those offering energy conservation products and services.
It has been possible to obtain some protection against these calls, either by simply being ex-directory (liste rouge), or by registering with the telephone operator your desire not to receive direct marking calls (liste orange), although in this latter case you would remain listed in the telephone directory. You can of course request to be both liste rouge and liste orange.
In recognition of the problem, in 2011 companies in the telemarketing industry set up a voluntary registration scheme, called PACITEL, which enabled a telephone subscriber to register on the PACITEL own liste rouge that they did not wish to receive marketing calls.
Although these actions can be quite effective, it does not prevent companies obtaining your telephone details from other sources, such as companies who sell mailing lists. Neither does PACITEL contain all the players in the telemarketing industry, the major weakness of this voluntary scheme.
As a result, the government has stepped in to reinforce existing controls by outlawing the sale of mailing lists and by enabling households to register on a telephone preference list.
This official 'liste d'opposition' is one that all telemarketing companies will be obliged to consult prior to undertaking any direct marketing calls. Failure do so can result in a fine of up to €75,000
The telemarketing companies will be obliged to pay a fee to consult the list, which it is hoped will pay for the running costs of the service.
The government have yet to decide who will manage the list, but it is anticipated the service will be up and running by the end of the year.
Registration on the list is free of charge and will be possible on-line. It will be valid for a period of three years.
Those on the list will be notified three months in advance of the prospective expiry of their registration, in order to enable them to renew their registration.
If you are already a customer of a company, the law continues to allow that company to contact you by telephone or other means, although you can opt out of such marketing directly with the company concerned.
The government has also outlawed the use of hidden telephone numbers (numéro masqué) by telemarking companies, who are liable to a fine of up to €15,000 if they breach this rule.