CC by redi-medic

UPDATE: As published on the Journal Officiel on May 10, 2015, the requirement to carry a high visibility vest also applies to motorcyles starting on January 1, 2016.


Just another thing to remember when you are planning a trip, but pretty easy to comply with.

Since 1 July 2008, drivers found without safety vests and warning triangles can be fined up to €750*. Effective January 1, 2016, the same requirement applies to motorcycles, to be carried in the storage compartment at all times and worn immediately in case of an emergency stop.

Legal requirements for driving in France

High-visibility reflective safety vests must be CE compliant. They must be kept in the front area of the car (for example in the glove compartment, or under the passenger seat), so that you can access them easily, before getting out of the vehicle.

These are the official steps to take in case of breakdown on a French motorway;

1. Turn on hazard lights.
2. Put on safety vest.
3. Get out of the vehicle on the passenger side (if in a British car, this will be the driver’s side, but basically NOT the road side of the vehicle).
4. Get behind the safety barrier.
5. Alert the recovery service, either by an ‘SOS’ public phone, or by calling 112 from a mobile (see rates for this service at You may have your own free recovery service with your vehicle insurance or separate breakdown cover – make you have the relevant documents to hand.
6. Stay with your vehicle (not in it) until the recovery service arrives.

A warning triangle marked E 27 R must be kept inside the vehicle. In case of a breakdown or accident it must be placed at a minimum distance of 30 metres from the vehicle.

Indicators and lights: Make sure all lamps are working, and clean. (A dirty lamp is only half as bright.) In case of a road check, your vehicle could be fined or immobilized until the defective bulb is replaced.

Source:, *
Photo: CC by redi-medic

2 Responses to “Safety vest and warning triangle regulations in France”

  1. Avatar


    A very informative post indeed! I am glad the rules are being applied to motorcycles as well because the ratio of motorcycle accidents due to less visibility is on the rise. Also, the fine that will be imposed on motorcyclists for defective lights is also a good way to ensure that all motorcyclists will keep their motorcycles well tuned up. Being a motorcycle blogger I have seen a lot of motorcyclists paying no heed to the well being of their motorcycles and riding in gears that are not suitable for motorcycling. Such stringent rules are definitely the need of the hour.

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  2. Avatar


    With regard to the previous poster’s comments:
    Carrying a hi-viz vest in the “storage compartment”* of a motorbike will not make the rider any more visible whilst riding the bike, thus won’t prevent any accidents due to lack of visibility of the motorcyclist. The vest is only to be put on after one has stopped – ah, but even then only if due to an emergency (not if you stop for a break).
    * Do many modern motorcycles even have a ‘storage compartment’ ?

    The ill-fated scheme to make motorcyclists wear ‘reflective’ (not hi-viz) clothing was dropped partly as it was demonstrated that making motorcyclists more visible does little to reduce the chances of them being hit by other vehicles.

    It is not just motorcyclists who are being advised to check their lights. This is addressed to all road users. The word ‘tuning’ has an entirely different meaning in France to England.

    Furthermore, an attempt to bring in the ‘Controle Technique’ for motorcycles was recently defeated partly due to the fact that it was demonstrated that only a tiny tiny fraction of motorcycle accidents were due to ill maintained machines. The vast majority of motorcyclists know only too well the necessity of keeping their bike safe !

    With regard to the main article, it is not made clear that one should not try to position a warning triangle following a breakdown on a motorway.

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