Is It Safe to Drive Through Calais Yet?

Truck drivers continue to bear the brunt of the Calais Migrant Crisis, but car drivers have been much less affected, especially recently.

Also, Porsche show of the new purist 911 R in the Swiss Alps. A new ZTL for Palermo. A quarter of Belgian drivers don’t get ‘late merging’. Truck driver robbed in the middle of the night in Luxembourg.

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IS IT SAFE TO DRIVE THROUGH CALAIS?

The situation has improved a lot in Calais recently though there is still a way to go yet.

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A truck damaged in Calais on Monday evening. Photo Les Calaisiens en Colere Facebook.

Several readers have contacted @DriveEurope recently asking whether it is safe to drive through Calais.

It doesn’t look good after rioting on Monday as the French authorities cleared the southern portion of The Jungle migrant camp.

Courier company Humber Sameday found themselves caught up as migrants tried to block vehicles on the port access road in the evening.

The firm said on Facebook, ‘Caution to all drivers using the Calais route. One of our Euro Drivers vehicles was attacked with bricks by the immigrants. Luckily he’s ok but it could have been worse!’

It is no consolation for the truck drivers who live with the threat of trouble every day, but such incidents are increasingly rare, certainly compared to the daily attacks last year.

Since the P&O ferry Spirit of Britain was occupied by migrants and activists on Saturday 23 January there has been just one incident.

On Wednesday last week, 1000 migrants tried to reach Eurotunnel through the centre of town.

Reassuringly, police – who have previously been guilty of taking their eye off the ball – were ready for the migrants on this occasion and major disruption was avoided according to local reports.

Meanwhile, the president of the Nord Pas de Calais region is optimistic the end is in sight.

Xavier Bertrand said yesterday, ‘Dismantling the jungle in Calais is the beginning of the end of the problem.’

Bertrand met with British truck associations on 17 February to discuss security at the port. They have both called for the subject to be on the agenda at the Franco-British Summit meeting between David Cameron and Francois Hollande in Amiens this Thursday (since confirmed).

Other signs that security is improving, in Calais at least, include Belgium reimposing border controls to stop migrants establishing new camps along the coast – 600 people have been turned back in the past week – and a new spate of stowaways in Ireland, apparently from Cherbourg (see this new advice for hauliers from Stena Line).

There can be no guarantees but, aside from some incidents when the situation was truly out of control in the summer, car drivers have escaped unscathed in recent months.

Naturally cars and other non-freight vehicles are present during trouble at the port but overwhelming evidence shows migrants are only interested in vehicles they can hide inside.

Those particularly concerned about the situation should avoid Calais in the evening or overnight, or consider the DFDS Dover-Dunkirk service which drops off twenty miles further up the coast, and has seen nothing like the trouble at its neighbour.

Also – interestingly, DFDS has just launched a ‘Night Owls’ special offer on its Dover, Calais and Dunkirk crossings. Book before 15 June and save 25% on regular overnight fares with prices starting at £27 each way.

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Porsche unveiled the purist 911 R in Geneva yesterday: 500bhp, manual gearbox only, lightweight and no spoilers – everything enthusiasts say they want. The launch was accompanied by a video filmed in the Swiss Alps. This one looks to be parked beside the Oberaar Lake at the top of Grimsel Pass with the Oberaar Glacier in the background. The question is, when could they possibly have filmed it? Grimsel normally closes at the beginning of November. The 911 R must have been sat on the shelf for months…

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roundup: ITALY. As of yesterday, Sicilian capital Palermo has a much expanded ZTL Zone Traffico Limitato restricted zone reports Urban Access Regulation in Europe. All vehicles, including foreign registered, need to be at least Euro 3 to enter with the zone in place morning and evening Monday to Friday and until lunchtime Saturday. Daily passes start at €5, applied for via the city council. The fine for an ineligible car is €164, or €41 for a car without a permit. BELGIUM. Only 1 in 4 drivers are fully aware of the new ‘zipper rule’ according to a survey by the Belgian Institute for Road Safety. Since March 2014, at lane closures on motorways and dual carriageways, drivers are not allowed to merge with the free lane until the point of the closure. ‘Late merging’ reputedly reduces queues by 50 percent. The fine for early merging – or refusing to let another car in at the lane closure – is €55. Germany and Austria operate a similar system, called ‘Reissverschluss’. LUXEMBOURG. A truck driver asleep in his cab was robbed of personal belongings overnight Sunday-Monday says Wort.lu. The incident happened at Aire de Berchem, on the A3 between Luxembourg City and the French border. Police have launched an investigation though no further incidents seem to have come to light.

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