MOTORISTS planning to drive their cars on the Continent this summer are being warned to make sure they don't fall foul of the law.
The warning applies specifically to company car drivers and those who lease their vehicles.
According to a survey just carried out by vehicle leasing specialists LeasePlan UK, more than 15 per cent of Brits who take their cars abroad have admitted to driving on the wrong side of the road and only one in five bother to learn foreign laws in advance of getting behind the wheel.
Alongside brushing up on the rules and regulations of driving overseas, motorists are now required to display a Crit' Air sticker on their windscreen when driving through the French capital. Without it, drivers could face fines of up to Â£117.
The French government rolled out The Air Quality Certificate, dubbed ‘Crit'Air', on January 22, outlining that all cars driving into Paris and other major cities are required to display a Crit' Air sticker - including foreign cars.
The stickers indicate how much NOx a vehicle produces and will allow officials to monitor the amount of pollution in major cities, giving them the ability to stop higher category cars from entering on high emission days.
There are six categories that vehicles are ranked by depending on their air pollutant emissions from the cleanest (100 per cent electric and hydrogen vehicles) at zero, to the highest polluting pre-2006 diesel vehicles.
However, not all diesel cars will be ranked in the high polluting categories; diesels registered since 2011 will rank at level 2, equal to Euro 4 petrol cars (registered from 2006 to 2010).
This new legislation means that not only must drivers of leased vehicles notify their leasing company, at least four weeks prior to travel, to obtain a Vehicle on Hire (VE103) certificate - in lieu of a vehicle registration certificate (V5C) - and a letter giving written permission needed to drive their car overseas, but they must know the European Emissions Standard of their vehicle in order to apply for a Crit' Air sticker.
Matthew Walters, head of consultancy services at LeasePlan UK, said: "With the growing popularity of leasing in the UK, 49 per cent of cars regiesterd in 2017 for fleet, we believe thousands of motorists could be falling foul of European legislation when driving across the channel this year
"We recommend that drivers, whether they lease or own their vehicle, apply for a Crit' Air sticker well in advance of their date of travel so they don't run the risk of driving without one.
"The difference between Euro 6 and earlier diesels is one that's rarely made. In many ways, proposed policies, such as this, will actually be good for diesel motorists. At the moment the UK is absolutely CO2 focused, it is encouraging to see more governments recognising the steps needed to tackle NOx emissions to improve the air quality and bring about the future of clean transport and responsible cities."
LeasePlan suggests for those motorists planning a summer road trip to be advised of the checks and equipment they are required to carry under EU laws, especially for those who lease cars where extra steps need to be considered before driving off into the sun.
Here is an eight-point checklist for British motorists driving in Europe this summer:
1. Apply for your Crit' Air sticker well in advance of your date of travel to avoid running the risk of driving without one.
2. Notify your leasing provider that you'll be taking the vehicle abroad in advance to obtain a vehicle-on-hire certificate (VE103). All drivers who own their vehicle must be able to produce a V5 vehicle document (logbook).
3. Check you have European Breakdown Cover.
4. Consider giving your car a maintenance check before you head off to help improve fuel economy and avoid any preventable accidents.
5. Whether you are travelling for business or pleasure, fully comprehensive insurance is essential for all drivers.
6. Read up and ensure you comply with each country's individual driving laws. Did you know, for instance, France has banned satnavs that are capable of detecting speed cameras and it's compulsory for all cars to carry a warning triangle, a high-visibility safety vest, spare light bulbs, GB stickers or number plate with an EU logo.
7. Ensure your driving licence and passport are valid and up-to-date.
8. When travelling with children check the safety and compliance rules on car seats for each country before you set off.
More information can be found on the AA website at AA.com where there is also advice of how to obtain a Crit' Air sticker.