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Yesterday on the motorway I was flashed by the car behind me.  This isn’t that unusual; French men, usually driving BMWs and Audis, appear to object to women having the temerity to hog the carriageway by going at the speed limit while overtaking a lorry.  I think we lesser beings, especially those who drive toy Citroens like mine, are expected to pull over and let the great ones speed by.

Needess to say, I don’t.  I’ve even been known to make gestures inappropriate to my age, especially when the roof is open.

Yesterday was different.  I was approaching the péage (toll gates) on the motorway, heading towards the exit reserved for those who have télépéage.  For those who don’t know, télépéage is brilliant.  It’s a little box on the windscreen that registers as you approach the toll barriers going on the motorway, and again as you leave and debits your credit card.  No leaning out to grab a ticket, no trying to put the ticket in the machine, dropping it, having to get out of the car to find it, waiting to see how much you owe, fumbling for the credit card, putting it in the machine….  So easy and saves an amazing amount of time queuing behind people whose cards don’t work or haven’t got the right money.  Best of all some motorway péages have dedicated 30 kmh lanes for télépéage users where you don’t have to stop at all, though it’s always a little unnerving heading for the barrier and wondering if it will actually open before you reach it.

I was heading for the 30 km lane when the boy racer behind flashed his lights.  I’m pretty sure it wasn’t because I was going too slowly; judging by his own driving  what he objected to was my not being so close to the car in front that I could read the security number etched on the back windscreen.   I have what I think are good reason for keeping a safe stopping distance – despite the fact that télépéage has been around in France for at least 5 years and the dedicated télépéage lanes are usually marked like this

télépéagewith that nice big orange T above it people just don’t seem to realise what it’s for.  You can guarantee that at least one in three times when we’re joining the motorway at our local junction there will be someone stuck in the télépéage lane wondering why they can’t get a ticket.  It’s not as if they didn’t have a choice; there’s another lane next to it with a very visible green arrow above it.

A couple of weeks ago I was coming back from Bordeaux and coming up to the 30 km lane at the péage – which looks like this -

télépéage4ie, pretty obvious with large illuminated 30 sign,plus a big t, orange markings etc – but despite all this a car was backing out of it, before shooting off to one of the credit card lanes.  A French car too, as they practically always are, so the driver didn’t even have the excuse of being a visitor who was confused by unfamiliar signs.

Did the driver think that the télépéage only sign was like instruction manuals, just there for guidance and he was free to ignore it if he wanted to?   Rather like most of the motorists in Cadillac who think that the No Left Turn sign at the bottom of the bridge doesn’t necessarily apply to them, not always and certainly not when they’re in a hurry.   If he hadn’t seen the sign, which at the St Selve péage is so brightly lit you can practically see it from space, then he definitely needs to go to Specsavers.

Anyway, I live in hope that the berk who flashed me yesterday will find one day that the car in front he’s following so closely will discover it’s in the wrong lane, slam on the brakes and go into reverse….

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