While traveling on the Sanef group network and you encounter a vehicle traveling in the wrong direction on the motorway? Although it can be difficult to know how to react in an emergency while ensuring the safety of your passengers and that of other motorway users, here are our tips and reflexes to best avoid an accident!

How to react to a vehicle going the wrong way on the motorway?

If the motorway is on average 5 times safer than the secondary networks, there are no less than 400 wrong-way traffic on the motorway per year. Although this figure includes reversing at the toll booth and on the emergency lane, it also concerns vehicles taking the motorway in the wrong direction...

To best prevent accidents, it is therefore very important to know how to react to a driver who is driving the wrong way on the highway. Before reviewing the reflexes to adopt, let's find out how a wrong-way traffic is signaled on the motorway and how to act when you witness a wrong-way vehicle!

Reflexes to adopt when a vehicle is going the wrong way on the motorway

If you are in an area where a wrong-way vehicle has been reported, the alert message will give you the following instructions:

  • Reduce your speed to increase safety distances and your field of vision;
  • Stop at the next service or rest area;
  • Never overtake other vehicles.

As you can imagine, it is essential to adopt good reflexes when encountering a vehicle going the wrong way on the highway. By reducing your speed you ensure you have more time to avoid a collision with the wrong-way driver.

By maintaining sufficient distance from the vehicle in front of you, you will also have more leeway to avoid vehicles in front of you. And to avoid any head-on collision, it is strictly forbidden to overtake or take the fast lane.

How is a wrong-way vehicle reported on the motorway?

Before presenting you with the reflexes to have when faced with a vehicle going the wrong way on the motorway, let's first go back to the reporting methods provided by the Sanef/Sapn motorways to avoid any incident! First of all, you should know that several information channels are used by Sanef to guarantee you optimal safety on the network when a wrong-way driver is reported:

  • A hazard message is displayed on variable message signs (VMS) on the motorway;
  • An audible alert is emitted on the Sanef 107.7 radio to warn of danger.

In France, all motorway radios on the FM 107.7 frequency use the same sound alert to warn of a vehicle going the wrong way on the highway. It provides information on the vehicle and its location as well as instructions on how to drive.

In order to prevent any potential danger, a danger message is also displayed on the illuminated signs located in front of the motorway entrance toll booths. And during this period, the entrance to the highway is temporarily closed to avoid any confrontation with a vehicle traveling in the wrong direction. This precautionary measure helps ensure the safety of everyone on our motorway network!

Quels sont les chiffres des contresens sur autoroute ?

Si l'autoroute est en moyenne 5 fois plus sûre que les réseaux secondaires, plus de 1000 contresens y ont été dénombrés en 2022. Ce chiffre comprend les marches arrière au péage et sur la bande d'arrêt d'urgence, mais aussi les véhicules qui s'engagent réellement l'autoroute à contresens...

53% des contresens surviennent la nuit. Dans la grande majorité des cas, les conducteurs sont soit âgés et désorientés (+ de 75 ans) soit sous l'emprise de substances psychoactives (alcool – drogue – médicament).


How to act when you witness a wrong-way traffic on the motorway?

If you witness a wrong-way driver on the motorway, it is crucial not to take any risks that could put you in danger. Turn on your hazard lights and slow down immediately. To help locate the wrong-way vehicle, it is important to alert emergency services.

To do this, several options are available to you:

  • Go to the nearest orange emergency call point: there are ones every 2 km on the motorway;
  • Use the free SOS Autoroute application (provided you have installed and configured it beforehand);
  • Contact our services on 09 708 08 709 (non-premium rate call);
  • Call 112 and communicate your location as best as possible: motorway number, direction of traffic, the landmark indicated on the central reservation or on the shoulder of the road;
  • For the deaf/mute, it is possible to communicate by SMS with 114.

Useful reminder: If you use your phone, don't put yourself in danger on top of breaking the motorway Code. Call a passenger or stop at an area to raise the alert safely.

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