French motorways going barrier-free

Soon people will be able to travel on French toll roads without having to stop at a péage, allowing traffic to flow easier and ending the bottlenecks that plague the motorways, especially on holidays and in summer.  

It’s the rare bird in France who has not endured queues associated with waiting to pass through a toll booth on the local motorways. This outdated system has been a bane for years, but now it is about to change.  

So-called “free-flow highways” will become the new normal for all new motorways in France, allowing motorists to drive at the permitted speed without slowing or stopping, by passing under camera and sensor-equipped gates that identify the vehicle.  

The first barrier-free road officially opened on 4th November on the A79 in Allier in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. The Normandy highway is next to be outfitted, then all new highways in France will follow. 

Drivers wishing to go this route can pay by purchasing an electronic vignette from any autoroute company or by visiting their websites and registering with a card that will be used to pay for usage and the person’s vehicle number plate.  

For those not quite ready for this kind of technology, there will also be kiosks set up on the motorway’s edges where payment can be made by cash or card.  

“Customers have 72 hours to pay for their journey,” says Pierre Méau, Deputy Director of Customers at the Autoroutes Paris-Rhin-Rhône. “If they do not do so, they will be fined €90 on top of the toll, and €375 if they do not pay within 60 days. In addition, the operator will have access to the European number plate database.” 

This system has trialled in France since 2019 at the Boulay-Moselle interchange on the A4 highway. Despite some teething pains, the system “has proved its reliability and customers have become familiar with this new payment system”, according to the Société des Autoroutes du Nord et de l’Est de la France’s managing director, Arnaud Quemard. 



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