Cross-border enforcement for speeding & traffic offences
The EU plans to introduce an automated system that tracks drivers down if they commit a traffic offence like speeding - even abroad.
How did we get here?
What happens if a Danish driver is caught for speeding with his car in France? Not much so far. Currently, various different kinds of agreements exist between EU Member States to track down traffic offenders and to follow up traffic fines. However these agreements cannot deal with complex cross-border cases. Since there are no useful procedures, fines for road traffic offences are often not enforced - especially, if these offences are committed with a vehicle, which is registered in a Member State (Denmark) other than the one where the offence took place (France). 15% of the number of detected speed offences are committed by non-resident drivers and a foreign-registered car is three times more likely to commit traffic offences than a domestically-registered one. In 2008 EU lawmakers already tried to solve this problem with new rules, but the European Court of Justice annulled the legislation because there was a problem with the legal basis.
Why is this important for me?
Because it wants to ensure saftey on roads. The main objectives of the new rules is to put an end to the anonymity of non-resident drivers and to make sure that their road traffic offences will not go unpunished. Instead a consistent EU-wide sanctioning system will be in place. This aims to ensure a high level of protection for all road users in the EU and to improve overall road safety.
What's the content?
The new rules presented by the then EU Commissioner for Transport and Mobility, Sim Kallas, basically equal the old initiative from 2008. It represents an EU wide automated approach that tries to make it easier to exchange information on road safety related traffic offences and thereby the enforcement of sanctions. Therefore, the plan foresees to give Member States mutual access to each other's vehicle registration data via an electronic data exchange network. This would allow them to identify drivers when they commit traffic offences abroad, thus ensuring equal treatment of non-resident and resident drivers. Once the car owner's name and address are known, a letter will be send to the offender.
The Member State where the speeding - or any other offence - was registered has the right to decide on the follow-up of the traffic offence. This concerns eight major cases:
- not using a seatbelt
- running a red traffic light
- driving under the influence of alcohol or drug
- not wearing a safety helmet (for motorcyclists)
- using a forbidden lane (such as an emergency lane)
- illegally using a mobile telephone (or any other communication devices) while driving.
The Commission also suggested some small changes to the rules - concerning data protection - in order to satisfy the European Court of Justice. This new directive also means that EU Member States will not have to negotiate new bilateral agreements with other countries.
What's happening with this legislation in the future?
This new proposal had to be agreed by EU Member States and the European Parliament before the deadline set by the European Court of Justice of May 2015. Member States were already discussing it in October 2014, as well as the Parliament in its Committee on Transport and Tourism. In early December 2014 an informal political agreement on the new rules was reached between MEPs and Member States. In February 2015 the Parliament adopted the new legilsation, in March 2015 the Council of Ministers did as well and the final act was published in the Official Journal. In November 2016 the Commission will publish a report to check if the new rules work the way they should.
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