EU to crack down on motoring offences.jpg

EU to crack down on motoring offences

By: ELOISE WALTON

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THE EUROPEAN Parliament’s Transport Committee has voted in favour of a draft directive that will see drivers who commit offences while in other countries, caught and punished.

Those days when speeding down a motorway in another EU country or ignoring a foreign traffic light will be gone, as national authorities will have greater ease and power to fine drivers from other countries.

This measure, which received 49 votes, with just one against and one abstaining, will first be targeted towards four offences which account for around 75 per cent of all road deaths in the EU.

These are speeding, drink driving, not using a seatbelt and failing to stop at a traffic light.

Once an electronic data exchange network has been set up, which will allow the authorities to identify the owner of a vehicle registration document, all of the information relating to the traffic offence will be forwarded to the driver’s national authority who will request for a fine to be paid.

Eventually, when this system has become operational and any problems have been ironed out, the number of offences covered by this system will be increased to include others such as driving while under the influence of drugs, using mobile phones and driving without insurance.

This draft directive is due to be discussed by the EU Council in October and, if approved, could become law by the end of the year, which would leave all member states to implement the measure within two years.

This measure is part of an initiative to half road deaths across the EU, which was started by the European Commission in 2001 and aims to reach its target by 2010.

So far the statistics have shown an overall reduction in the number of road deaths, however the figures are nowhere near halved and although France and Portugal have achieved good results, there is a great disparity in road safety throughout the 27 member states.

According to statistics, Greece, Central and Eastern Europe have the most dangerous roads, with drivers being three times more likely to die in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia than in Sweden and the Netherlands.

According to Ayala Sender, a Spanish member of the Transport Committee, this new measure will do away with the unfairness perceived in local communities who see foreigners get away with crimes for which they would be punished.

“With this directive we provide Member States’ authorities with an instrument that could end EU foreigners’ impunity,” she said.