One would think that motorways would have been one of the first items to be scrutinised by EU committees. They link the European community from north to south and east to west in continuous lengths. Yet auto-route safety measures use different symbols and different words in different countries. On British motorways, we are exhorted to keep two ‘chevrons’ (a word we have taken from the French language) away from other cars. On French motorways, the lengths painted alongside the carriageway are ‘traits’. ‘Un trait = danger, deux traits = sécurité. One must pay to use French motorways. Prices can vary enormously from 10c per kilometre to over 50 cents. There are 15 separate companies that manage the French network. In the UK, we have only the M6 where there is a fee, but now payment is required at some bridges and tunnels. Auto-routes are clean and well maintained because the managing companies have huge sums of money at their disposal. It is horrible to see the amount of roadside litter in the UK especially in the winter before the weeds on the verges grow tall enough to hide it.

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