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MEMO/06/143

Brussels, 27 March 2006

European Driving Licence:
Differences between existing and future legislation

Directive 91/439/EEC
Future Directive
Free movement and fight against fraud
Mutual recognition

Mutual recognition is hampered by differing national systems for validity of driving licences and medical checks. Many citizens file complaints for effective non recognition.
Mutual recognition

The validity period indicated on the driving licences will have to be recognised as such.

Licences with a validity of more than 26 years will have to be exchanged at the latest 26 years from the entry into force.
Driving licence model

Member States can choose between paper and plastic models
Driving licence model

Member States will have to issue only the plastic card model as of the date of application of this Directive.
Microchip

Directive 96/47 amending Directive 91/439 forbids to introduce a microchip
Microchip

This Directive allows Member States to introduce a microchip if they wish. Of course data protection rules have to be respected and future interoperability has to be guaranteed, thus needing further legislation through comitology procedure.

The stand-alone functioning of the driving licence has been guaranteed, meaning that all essential information will figure in writing on the document and that for instance a non-functioning microchip does not lead to non recognition of the driving licence.
Validity periods

Member States fix the validity periods individually, leading to totally differing systems and 110 driving licence models in circulation
Validity periods

Validity periods will be harmonised for all new licences issued after the date of application of this Directive:
- 10 years validity for driving licences for motorcycles and cars (with a possibility for Member States to raise the validity period up to 15 years)
- 5 years validity for driving licences for trucks and buses
Driving licences in circulation

The number of models valid and in circulation was still increasing due to the absence of harmonised validity periods.
Driving licences in circulation
All new licences will have a limited validity; all old models will be phased out: 26 years after the date of entry into force they will have to be replaced.
Acquired rights
These were difficult to guarantee due to so many different models and underlying national legislations, sometimes dating back decades
Acquired rights

Are explicitly guaranteed again in this Directive and will in practice be facilitated through the further harmonisation of the licence model and the phasing out of old models
One holder, one licence

This principle was difficult to guarantee due to the absence of advanced communication facilities between authorities, as well nationally as internationally.
One holder, one licence

The setting up of a driving licence network, ensuring the communication between authorities in different Member States, will allow this principle to be applied.
This, in combination with the regular renewal of licences, should reduce the number of duplicates that are issued for loss or theft and should also prevent the issuing of licences to persons being banned from driving in another Member States.

Road safety

Progressive access

Progressive access to motorcycles is for the first time introduced.

Progressive access
Progressive access to motorcycles is further refined in view of the accident figures that have been getting steadily worse.
The principle is extended to trucks and buses, aligning this Directive with Directive 2003/59/EC on training of professional drivers.
Member States are allowed to impose a reduced validity for novice licence holders, who are particularly vulnerable, thus allowing for a stepped-up approach for cars as well.
Mopeds

Mopeds were not included. This led to frequent problems for citizens living close to the border with another Member State, for citizens taking up residence in another Member State and for citizens wishing to rent a moped during their holiday abroad.
Moreover, moped riders are amongst the very vulnerable road participants.
Mopeds

Mopeds will be included: a new category AM is created. A theory test will have to be passed and Member States may impose a practical test if they wish (which is current practice in quite a few Member States today).
Directive 91/439/EEC
Future Directive
Motorcycles

A first model for progressive access is introduced, allowing access to the most powerful bikes either directly at the age of 21 or after gathering 2 years of experience on bikes limited to 25 kW as well as 0.16kW/kg
Motorcycles

In view of the statistics showing an increase in the number of motorcyclists involved in accidents, a more sophisticated progressive access model is introduced, that will take into account age, experience, training and testing. The new Directive tries to strike a balance between these different factors:
  • When progressing from one to category to another, meaning from a less powerful motorcycle to a more powerful one, only once a theory test is imposed; furthermore, only one practical test is mandatory; however, Member States are free to check the experience gathered either through a test or through training: this should alleviate the burden for those changing category;
  • The vehicle definition of the medium-powered category A2 has been widened and thus a wider range of bikes are available for these riders; the category thus becomes a real main category in opposition of category A limited today;
  • Direct access to the most powerful bikes has been fixed at the age of 24 (instead of 21 today)
  • Member States are free to allow direct access, but can also make progressive access obligatory
Driving licence categories

The definition of these categories were based on vehicle characteristics but were not aligned on other EU legislation
Driving licence categories

The definition of these categories will be aligned on EU type-approval legislation
Cars (category B)

Combinations with a trailer of more than 750 kg are allowed as long as the maximum authorised mass (MAM) of the trailer does not exceed the unladen mass of the towing vehicle and the combination does not exceed 3500 kg
Cars (category B)

Combinations with a trailer of more than 750 kg are allowed up to 4250 kg when:
  • Respecting type-approval rules
  • Passing a training and/or a test for combinations between 3500 and 4250 kg



Directive 91/439/EEC
Future Directive
Cars (category B+E)

No weight limit for trailers in this category leading to very long and heavy combinations within this category
Cars (category B+E)

A weight limit of 3500 kg for trailers in this category is introduced. Combinations with trailers exceeding this weight will fall in category C1+E
Trucks and buses

Subcategories C1 (trucks up to 7500 kg) and D1 (buses up to 17 seats in total) were introduced only in slightly more than half of the Member States.
The definitions were based on the availability of seats (possibly a 12 meter buss with a few seats could be driven by a category B or D1 licence holder.
Trucks and buses

Subcategories C1 and D1 will be mandatory, making it possible to align this Directive on Directive 2003/59/EC for training on professional drivers and thus to create progressive access.
The definitions will be based on the capacity to transport a certain number of passengers.
Medical check for truck and bus drivers

The Directive obliges Member States to introduce regular checks but does not define at which intervals thus leading to different practices and distortion of competition.
Medical check for truck and bus drivers

The Directive obliges Member States to introduce regular checks at the moment a driving licence is renewed. The means of carrying out these checks are left to the Member States but shall guarantee the correct application of the Annex III on fitness to drive.
It has to be pointed out that no regular medical checks are imposed upon car and motorcycle licence holders.
Examiners
No specific rules for examiners apart from the obligation that the Member State should monitor and supervise the work of driving examiners.
Examiners
Detailed rules are adopted for the initial qualification, the quality assurance and periodic training of driving examiners taking practical tests.


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