Driving an automatic car in France

Although automatic cars are fast becoming the norm on roads many drivers remain unacquainted with them. When it’s your first time to drive a rental car on French roads you’ll certainly need some handy skills and information.

Having gotten used to driving manual cars, learning to drive an automatic car may prove to be rather tricky but by no means will it be impossible. Drivers who have used both vehicle types agree that there is less precision control when making gear selections in automatic cars. Despite this slightly unnerving observation, learning to drive an automatic car is important as these vehicles represent the cars of the future. You also cannot be too sure of when you will require a car hire or car rental service.
 
Unlike in manual vehicles, there are no clutch pedals in automatic cars which means that gear changes are automatically done. Gear selection is subject to road speed and car engine load and is automatically enabled once the car transmission is in Drive (D).
 
In order for you to start majority of these cars you will need to do two things i.e. ensure that the gear lever is in Park (P) position and that you have the brakes pedal pressed to the floor. To drive off you will then be required to move the gear lever to the Drive (D) position and this can only be done when the security button atop this lever is pushed in. The automatic car will start moving forward slowly once the gear is in Drive position and for precaution reasons you need to engage the brakes pedal.
 
With the vehicle on the road you will need to gain speed. Do this by pressing down your accelerator pedal fully. In doing this you are actually causing an automatic dropping of the transmission to a lower gear which then facilitates acceleration. When you approach traffic lights or any other situation that requires a brief stop it is not necessary to shift transmission from Drive to Park. You can simply engage the parking brake and this will perfectly immobilize your car.
 
Many an automatic car model will allow you to select low gears manually. Such an automatic model will have the gears indicated on its gearshift using numerical indentations similar to those on manual cars although gear 1 may in some cases be indicated as L i.e. low gear. As a driver you will appreciate the use of low gears especially when driving in slow traffic or down steep slopes. To stop an automatic car once you arrive at your destination you should first shift the gear to Park and engage the parking brake next prior to switching off the engine.
 
As a prerequisite to driving in France you ought to always take three documents with you i.e. your driving license, insurance documents and car registration documents. Citizens of the EU can use driving licenses from their respective countries on French roads. Overlooking the carrying of the aforementioned documents may earn you a spot fine in the event that a gendarme pulls you over.
 
Regardless of whether your automatic car is from a car hire or car rental service, French laws stipulate that your vehicle must contain a first aid kit, spare bulbs, a warning triangle and a fluorescent jacket. The said jacket is not carried in the boot but rather inside the car such that you can wear it before you leave the vehicle in the event of breakdowns or accidents. Failing to carry a fluorescent jacket is also tantamount to a hefty spot fine.

In France drivers keep to the right. It is obligatory for you to stop when you see a stop sign and a solid white line. When overtaking on dual carriageways and motorways you should always keep to the left. The roundabouts on French roads are anticlockwise and as such drivers allow traffic to the left. Wearing of seatbelts is mandatory for all car passengers.

If you are looking for a high quality car hire service in France, then we recommend visiting www.europecarhire.org.