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Brussels, 19 March 2008

Road safety – cross-border enforcement


1. What exactly does cross-border enforcement mean?

Pursuing and sanctioning traffic offences committed with a vehicle that is registered in another Member State than the Member State where the offence has taken place.

2. Why does the Commission intend to take action in this field?

The objective of halving the number of road fatalities on the roads in the European Union by 2010 will probably not be achieved; a strong action is needed in order to give an impulse to the reduction of the number of road victims.

3. Which offences are covered by the proposed directive?

Speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol, non-use of a seat belt and failing to stop at a red traffic light. The proposal only deals with financial penalties; penalty points linked with a driving licence and withdrawing of a driving licence are not dealt with.

4. How does the Commission ensure the effectiveness of the cross-border enforcement actions?

By the application of an electronic data exchange network which enables to identify the holder of the vehicle registration document. Once his name and address are known, an offence notification, for which a model is established by the proposed Directive, will be sent to him. This notification will be sent in the official language or one of the official languages of his resident country.

5. What will happen if the offender is not the holder of the vehicle certificate?

The offence notification which is sent to the holder of the vehicle registration document includes a reply form which gives him the possibility, if he was not driving at the time when the offence was committed, to provide the relevant data for identifying the driver.

6. What does the Commission exactly expect from the Member States?

The Member States will have two years to set up the data exchange system and start operating it. The exchanges will be carried out by the national authorities in charge of the vehicle registration documents.

7. There are relatively few non-resident drivers. Is it worth the effort, time and costs to pursue them? Can a real improvement of road safety be expected to result from this initiative?

Foreign drivers represent around 5% of the road traffic in the EU, whereas the share of non-resident drivers in speeding offences is 2,5 – 30%, or around 15% on average, of all speeding offenders. Therefore, non-resident drivers are relatively more involved in offences than resident drivers. Moreover, this directive is expected to have a positive effect on the behaviour of all drivers and not just of foreign drivers.

8. Are there other advantages to be expected from this new initiative?

This initiative, which aims at improving road safety, will also abolish the impunity of foreign drivers which currently creates a feeling of unfairness with regard to resident drivers and considerably reduces the public acceptance of enforcement. It ensures equal treatment of foreign and resident drivers.

9. There is already a Council Framework Decision on the mutual recognition of financial penalties which also covers road traffic offences. Does this instrument not make the current directive redundant?

The Council framework decision envisages that a final conviction to pay a fine by one Member State is recognised by the other Member States. It applies as a last resort in case of non-payment by the offender. The directive applies to the earlier stages, as it aims at identifying the offender and requesting him to pay a fine in a first instance.

10. Which measures will the Commission and the Member States take to ensure the data protection of the drivers?

The rules with respect to protection of the privacy are respected. The proposed directive gives the persons concerned the right of access, correction and deletion of their personal data registered and exchanged by the system.

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