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Blow me down! Here’s something no trip to France should be without

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Because a holiday to Europe doesn’t have to cost the Earth…

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Nope, unfortunately we’re not talking about a fantastic product to keep the kids in the back quiet in the back of the car when you get stuck in a bank holiday tailback.

This little item costs less than a fiver, it requires a good long suck and a good hard blow to use it, and it’s disposable. And you absolutely MUST have at least one, preferably two in your glove compartment if you’re taking your car to France this summer.

Any ideas?

We’re talking about a breathalyzer. Regular visitors who make the crossing from Dover to Calais might be a little surprised to hear that despite the continuing endurance of the boozy lunch break there (or maybe because of it?) the French Government has introduced a law that requires drivers to carry a breathalyzer in their car. The hope is this little device will save up to 500 lives a year on the French roads.

The law applies to foreign vehicles as well as French ones although it’s been widely reported in the press that that French police plan a grace period until November – in part because there’s a shortage of Government-approved breathalyzers due to the sudden increase in demand this has caused. There are 30 million cars on the road in France alone.

Frankly we’d suggest you leave the car well at home if you’re evening thinking of drinking, but the hope in France is that people will stop to consider if they might be over the limit, use the breathalyzer and take an alternative form of transport instead if they are. And the legal drink drive limit in France is actually significantly lower than in the UK. You could easily be over the limit the morning after the night before.

You can’t just buy any breathalyzer either. They have to be French Government certified – an ‘NF’ logo is the indicator you need to look for.

So how do they work? The standard disposable breathalyzer is a short plastic tube that contains some specially treated yellow crystals which turn green if there’s alcohol present. To get an accurate reading it’s essential that the right amount of breath is blown across them, so kits that comply with French Government regulations come with a small bag with a valve in it which you inflate first to get the right quantity of breath. You then connect up the bag to the tube and squeeze the bag to blow the air through the tube.

The fine for non-possession of a breathalyzer is a fairly paltry 11 Euros, but you can pick up a breathalyzer kit for a few pounds and they typically have a two-year use by date so it makes sense to get one.

If you’re travelling by ferry to France, P&O Ferries has secured a large stock of breathalyzers which are available to buy on all their ferry crossings. A two-pack kit currently costs £5.99.


frankensteinHere comes the science bit…

All Global Cool articles highlight one of four ways (the one in bold below) to start living greener. Click the links to find out more…

1. Be a winner, not a binner (aka recycling and reusing stuff)
2. Turn up the style, not the heat (aka not charging electrical devices 24/7)
3. Love the trend, not the spend (aka buying stuff that doesn’t harm the planet)
4. Do it in public (aka ditching the plane when you can)


Image: Anirudh Koul

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