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Brussels, 2 December 2010

Road Safety – Cross border enforcement

1. What exactly does cross-border enforcement mean?

Pursuing and sanctioning traffic offences committed with a car 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?

As announced in the European Road Safety Policy Orientations 2011-2020, the adoption and implementation of this Directive on Cross Border Enforcement is one of a series of important measures to be taken in the coming years to meet the objective of halving the number of road fatalities in the European Union by 2020.

3. What is the problem?

As things stand today, a driver committing an offence under the highway code in a car registered in another country of the European Union evades prosecution, with very few exceptions, because of the difficulty of identifying them or of being able to check the address to which the vehicle is registered.

4. Which offences are covered by the proposed directive?

The Commission had initially proposed to concentrate on the four offences which lead to 75% of road fatalities, i.e. speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol, non-use of a seat belt and failing to stop at a red traffic light.

This proposal is now to go further and cover other offences such as driving under the influence of drugs, not wearing safety helmet, illegal use of a cell phone while driving, illegal use of emergency lanes

5. Will the proposal harmonise traffic sanctions across the EU? No.

The Directive does not harmonise either the nature of the offence nor the penalties for the offence. Those will be decided by the national law of the country where an offence was committed.

It is also important to note that the proposal only deals with financial penalties; penalty points linked with a driving licence and withdrawing of a driving licence are not dealt with.

6. How will it work? How will this enable authorities to track down offenders from abroad

By the application of an electronic data exchange network which enables to identify the holder of the car registration. Once the owner's name and address are known, an offence notification, for which a model is established by the proposed Directive, will be sent to him. It is up to the Member State of offence (where the offence was committed) to provide a translation of the letter sent in the language used in the car registration document.

7. What will happen if the offender is not the holder of the car certificate?

The offence notification which is sent to the holder of the car registration includes a reply form which gives him or her the possibility, to provide the relevant data for identifying the driver.

8 What will happen if the recipient just ignores the request?

There is already a Council Framework Decision on the mutual recognition of financial penalties which also covers road traffic offences. The Council framework Decision envisages that a final conviction to pay a fine by one Member State is recognised by the other Member States.

The proposal for a Directive on Cross Border Enforcement for Road Traffic offences applies to the earlier stages, as it aims at identifying the offender. But the Framework Decision will apply as a last resort in case of non-payment by the offender.

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

Once a final text is agreed, Member States will have two years to transpose it into national law. During that time they will set up the data exchange system and start operating it. Member States may also use existing networks sharing information on licence plates in place for the fight against criminality at EU level. The exchanges will be carried out by the national authorities in charge of the car registration documents.

10. What kind of impact will this measure have? How significant are the problems caused by non-resident drivers

  • Non-resident drivers represent around 5% of the road traffic in the EU, whereas the share in the EU of non-resident drivers committing speeding offences is 15%, of all speeding offences.

  • A foreign registered car is also three times more likely to commit offences than a resident driver.

  • In cases such as in France, where transit and tourism are high, speeding offences committed by non-residents can reach 25% of the total number of offences and go up to 40-50% during very busy periods of the year.

  • In this context, the positive effects of this measure will be of particular interest for countries such as Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, and Spain.

  • The measure should also have a strong deterrent effect, encouraging drivers to respect traffic law applicable in the host country.

This measure, 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.

11. 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.

12. Background

The Commission's Road Safety Action Programme 2011-2020

In July 2010 the European Commission adopted challenging plans to reduce the number of road deaths on Europe's roads by half in the next 10 years. Initiatives proposed range from setting higher standards for vehicle safety, to improving the training of road users, and increasing the enforcement of road rules. In launching the Action Programme, European Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas responsible for Transport, said: "A hundred people die everyday on Europe's roads. We have made good progress since 2001 and we have succeeded in saving nearly 80,000 lives. But the number of fatalities and injuries on our roads is still unacceptable. We are looking at what kind of cars motorists drive, where they drive and how they drive and we want to cut road deaths in half by 2020."

The Road safety action programme 2011-2020: sets out a mix of initiatives focussing on making improvements to vehicles, infrastructure and road users' behaviour. There are seven strategic objectives: Improved safety measures for trucks and cars; Building safer roads ; Developing intelligent vehicles; Strengthening licensing and training; Better enforcement; Targeting injuries; A new focus on motorcyclists. .

See also : IP/10/1646.

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