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New motoring laws have come into force in France making it compulsory for drivers to carry breathalyser kits in their vehicles.
As of today, motorists and motorcyclists will face an on-the-spot fine unless they travel with two single-use devices as part of a government drive to reduce the number of drink-drive related deaths.
The new regulations, which excludes mopeds, will be fully enforced and include foreigner drivers from November 1 following a four-month period of grace. Anyone failing to produce a breathalyser after that date will receive an 11 euro fine.
French police have warned they will be carrying out random checks on drivers crossing into France via ferries and through the Channel Tunnel to enforce the new rules.
Retailers in the UK have reported a massive rise in breathalyser sales as British drivers travelling across the Channel ensure they do not fall foul of the new legislation.
Car accessory retailer Halfords said it is selling one kit every minute of the day and has rushed extra stock into stores to cope with the unprecedented demand.
Six out of 10 Britons travelling to France are not aware they have to carry two NF approved breathalysers at all times, according to the company.
The French government hopes to save around 500 lives a year by introducing the new laws, which will encourage drivers who suspect they may be over the limit to test themselves with the kits.
The French drink-driving limit is 50mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood – substantially less than the UK limit of 80mg.
Disclaimer: The Chapter has made all reasonable endeavours to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information below at the time of publication both here and in the Chapter magazine, March 2010. However, 1066 Chapter cannot accept any liability or responsibility for any consequential loss or damage or injury howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly from reliance partly or solely on the information below. You MUST check the relevant rules and regulations for yourself for each of the countries you plan to visit closer to the time of your departure. It is solely your responsibility Have a great safe trip!
UPDATE! See item ‘New French Motoring Law’ in this section.
There are so many idiosyncratic variations of traffic laws in the Euro-zone that putting this guide has proved a little….trying. David Earl, Barry “Ironbutt” Heasman and Davis Lewis have provided invaluable help in collating information for this piece and for which I thank them. So please read this as an informative guide and not a definitive list!
Remember that your original documents may be required for inspection at anytime. These include Passport, Driving Licence, Insurance Certificate, Registration Certificate (log book) and MOT (if applicable).
If you have a new UK photo-card driving licence, you do not need an International Driving Permit (IDP) (except Bulgaria, Hungary and Finland). However, you will need to take both plastic and paper sections. Check the dates as 10 years can fly by!
The old “paper” licence, where acceptable, would require a passport to prove identity. At the time of going to press, we could not confirm if Italy, Spain and Portugal still accept the “paper” licence. In all cases you will need a supporting IDP.
You are recommended to inform your insurer/broker prior to travel. You will need to know and confirm what documentation you will need to provide in the event of a mishap; and what level of cover you have. It is suggested you look at repatriation of you, your passenger and bike in all eventualities. Why not also carry a European Accident Claim Form – just in case. I would do this at least one month prior to departure – the process can take time.
Make sure that you have enough personal medical insurance, as you will (most likely) receive emergency treatment, but are unlikely to be repatriated for ill health on your vehicle insurance.
If you are HIRING a motorcycle, make sure your medical policy covers you for injury sustained when riding a hired bike.
European Health Insurance Cards (the old E111) are valid for 5 years – check your dates.
Road Tax & Tolls
Austrian road tax can be bought at the border or any local petrol station. The cost for a 10 day ‘vignette’ for a motorcycle is €4.40.
The Swiss motorway tax is a flat annual rate of €40 and can be purchased at the border. However, you can buy it prior to departure – see the Chapter website (News, Gossip, Scandal, Rally News, Item 5)
Some road tolls have cheaper rates for bikes. If you use the credit card lanes, you will probably be charged at the higher rate.
Keep the toll ticket in the same pocket and suitable amount of cash within easy access.
You are required to display an approved GB sticker in all countries unless you have a new EU style number plate with the blue strip and stars.
Denmark is the only country that require motorcyclists to carry a warning triangle. However, if you have a trailer and are in Spain or Croatia – you will need two in the event of a mishap! Needless to say, we urge you to carry one and use where conditions dictate as necessary,
Hi Viz Jackets
With the exception of Croatia, reflective jackets are not required for motorcyclists. However, most countries do require them to be worn in the event of a breakdown/whilst stationary on the roadside – and that is one per person. Best carry one each.
First Aid Kits
In Austria motorcyclists are required to carry a first aid kit. It is good practice to carry one at all times – even in the UK.
These are not required in any country.
Head Light Adjustment & Spare Bulbs
As the motorcycle beam pattern is generally symmetrical, adjustment is not required. With the exception of Spain and Croatia spare bulbs are not a legal requirement but recommended. Spain also requires you to carry suitable tools to change the bulbs. However, make sure your beam level is correct for the loaded bike.
Whilst most countries use speed cameras, the Swiss, in particular, will follow up the fine in your home country. I understand that this tenacity is becoming more common place in the EC.
Most European countries have on-the-spot fines which are payable to the Police. Whilst some may accept cards, others will escort you to the nearest cash machine or police station.
The most expensive speeding fines are in Croatia at an eye-watering £1,800 (subject to exchange rates).
Radar Detectors & Sat Nav
Radar detectors are forbidden in all countries. Along the same lines, Sat Nav systems which have “Points of Interest” (i.e.: speed cameras), must have this facility disabled in all countries. In France, the fine can be up to €1,500 and the device and/or your vehicle confiscated.
With the exception of the Netherlands and Switzerland all countries require daytime running/head lights. However, riding with passing lights is not permitted in many countries.
Other Issues and the law
The UK has a limit of 80mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood. On the continent, the limit is, generally less, at 50mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood.
Vehicles joining the autoroute and dual carriageways have priority—and they know it!
Most fuel stations close at 6pm outside large towns and autoroutes. They have automated card pumps but they tend to use French cards (possible exception is Total). If caught short, you will have to wait for a passing and willing local to take your cash and fill you up — the odds don’t look too good….
If you are caught cruising in lane two (overtaking lane) and not actually overtaking, you could be fined €135. If you are caught speeding 31MPH over the limit, your vehicle could be confiscated! This applies to the périphérique – which has a speed limit of 49 MPH. Caught over this limit can be expensive: Maximum fine for travelling in excess of 31MPH over the limit is €1,500 (yes, fifteen hundred) – oh, and that’s cash! They can take your wheels too.
Overtaking stationary trams when passengers are boarding/alighting is prohibited.
Pedestrians generally have right of way over vehicles and so locals tend to walk out in front of you.
Emergency Services telephone number is 112 – just like here!
Other issues to consider
The first thing to note is that you will always ride further than you planned. Make sure you and the bike are fully prepared.
Things to consider packing: Snack bars; a bottle of water; duct tape; cable ties; puncture repair aerosol; lengths of insulated wire; chargers for your phone, camera etc; and possible a spare can of fuel. A couple of spare plastic bags to put over your boots will help slip on those waterproofs without too much fuss.
Summer and winter weight gloves should be taken. The sunny sea level start could end up on a mountain pass. Leave some space in your bags—as you go south it should get hotter, requiring layers to be shed.
The best clothing and boots you can afford—it will make the trip more pleasant. It is a journey with inherent dangers.
When riding as a group, think as a group and ride for yourself. When overtaking, do so when suitable as an individual; but once completed maintain your speed so that the following riders can slip in behind you!
If you can ride and find a local hotel, it will allow you to travel as far as you wish. However, be aware that hotels in Spain festooned with neon lights may be brothels!
We highly recommend that you contact your breakdown cover company and ensure that your policy covers the countries you are going to visit. Have their contact details at hand—not in at the bottom of your bag.
If you need corrective eyewear to ride, we recommend that you should take a spare pair of spectacles with you – especially if you are the sole rider.
Possibly the most important bit of information to take from this article.
When repeating a familiar action, such as leaving a petrol station, remember to: Think Right. Areas for particular attention: doing U turns; at the end of one way streets; after road works etc.
This also means that when riding in a group, the ‘second man’ should always be on the nearside of the lead bike, i.e. to the RIGHT and not to the left as in the UK.
You may also wish to look at the H.O.G.® website when planning your trip. One page offers a comprehensive check list of things to take:
Another is full of tips on how to pack:
Remember – you are solely responsible for your safety and obligations to stay within the laws of the land.
We invite all members who may have any information which would either supplement or amend this list to please contact the editor. If necessary, there will be an update in the next issue.
Finally, as part of your VAT goes to fund European roads, consider it a type of refund and use the A & B roads!
Essential information for motorcycle owners, useful information for proceeding through the jungle of mechanised life in general.
A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching flat metal bar stock out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest and flings your beer across the room, denting the freshly-painted project which you had carefully set in the corner where nothing could get to it.
Cleans paint off bolts and then throws them somewhere under the workbench with the speed of light. Also removes fingerprints and hard-earned calluses from fingers in about the time it takes you to say, “Oh, s—!”
A portable cutting tool used to make studs too short.
Used to round off bolt heads. Sometimes used in the creation of blood-blisters.
An electric sanding tool commonly used to convert minor touch-up jobs into major refinishing jobs.
One of a family of cutting tools built on the Ouija board principle… It transforms human energy into a crooked, unpredictable motion, and the more you attempt to influence its course, the more dismal your future becomes.
Generally used after pliers to completely round off bolt heads. If nothing else is available, they can also be used to transfer intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.
Used almost entirely for lighting various flammable objects in your shop on fire. Also handy for igniting the grease inside the wheel hub out of which you want to remove a bearing race.
A large stationary power tool commonly used to launch wooden projectiles for testing wall integrity.
HYDRAULIC FLOOR JACK:
a) Used for raising a motorcycle off the ground to a suitable height for it to fall off, or
b) Used for lowering a car to the ground after you have installed your new disc brake pads, trapping the jack handle firmly under the bumper.
A large stationary power saw primarily used by most shops to cut good aluminum sheet into smaller pieces that more easily fit into the trash can after you cut on the inside of the line instead of the outside edge.
TWO-TON ENGINE HOIST:
A tool for testing the maximum tensile strength of everything you forgot to disconnect.
Normally used to stab the vacuum seals under lids or for opening old-style paper-and-tin oil cans and splashing oil on your shirt; but can also be used, as the name implies, to strip out Phillips screw heads.
A tool for opening paint cans. Sometimes used to convert common slotted screws into non-removable screws and butchering your palms.
A tool used to crumple the metal surrounding that clip or bracket you needed to remove in order to replace a 50p part.
A tool used to make hoses too short.
Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer nowadays is used as a kind of divining rod to locate the most expensive parts adjacent to the object we are trying to hit.
Used to open and slice through the contents of cardboard cartons delivered to your front door; works particularly well on contents such as seats, vinyl records, liquids in plastic bottles, collector magazines, refund cheques, and rubber or plastic parts. Especially useful for slicing work clothes, but only while in use.
‘Son of a bitch’ TOOL:
Any handy tool that you grab and throw across the garage while yelling “Son of a bitch” at the top of your lungs. It is also, most often, the next tool that you will need.
AND, FINALLY, THIS ONE!
A young engineer was leaving the office at 3.45 p.m. when he found the Acting CEO standing in front of a shredder with a piece of paper in his hand.
“Listen,” said the Acting CEO, “this is a very sensitive and important document, and my secretary is not here. Can you make this thing work?”
“Certainly,” said the young engineer. He turned the machine on, inserted the paper, and pressed the start button.
“Excellent, excellent!” said the Acting CEO as his paper disappeared inside the machine, “I just need one copy.”
Never, ever assume that your boss knows what he’s doing. or, indeed, anyone.