At present, drivers committing an offence under the highway code in a Member State other than their own often avoid paying the penalty imposed on local drivers. The Transport Committee approved on Tuesday legislation to ensure that drivers will be able to be identified and fined for offences they commit anywhere in the EU. Speeding, drink-driving, not wearing a seat belt and failing to stop at a red light will all be covered by the proposal.The committeeunanimously agreedthat the current situation where drivers can often avoid penaltiesnot only jeopardises road safety, but is also discriminatory withrespect to local residents committing similar offences, whodo facepenalties. This unequal treatment of two groups of road users should, therefore, be stopped, argues rapporteur Inez Ayala Sender (PES, ES) on behalf of the Committee.
A ticket from abroad on your doormat which you will have to pay
The proposal establishes an electronic system for exchange of information between Member States onoffences committed. The vehicle registration number and other personal datawill be transmitted to be checkedonce an offence is spotted. After this verification by the Member States where the vehicle is registered,therelevant national authority willsend an offence notification to the owner of the vehicle, asking for the payment of the penalty. Authorities will be designated in each Member State to assist them with the application of the directive. The Committee adopted proposals to ensure the protectionof personal data that will be exchanged.
What if you do not pay?
If an offender receives an offence notification, this should, as a minimum, contain the name of the authority responsible for enforcing the sanctions. It should specify the amount of the fine, possible payments procedures, by when it must be paid, the possibilities for contesting the grounds of the offence and for appealing against a decision imposing a financial penalty. The Committee also says that the notification should inform the holder that, if he refuses to pay, his refusal will be communicated to theauthorities of hisMember Statefor enforcement.Such enforcementwill be governed by the law in the same ways as for similar fines within the home Member State.
A further evaluation
The Commission was asked to submit, two years after the directive has entered info force, a report on its implementation. On the basis of that report, it should be considered whether the scope of the rulesmight be extended to other road traffic infringements.
EU-wide road safety guidelines
Members also inserted in the Commission proposal a range of EU-wide road safety guidelines. As regards speed, they asked for increase by 30% of the numbers of speed checks in those Member States where the number of fatalities is above the EU average. As far as blood alcohol testing in concerned, Member States should, says MEPs, ensure that at least 30% of the drivers can be tested annually. As regards seat belt operations, intensive checks should be conducted at least for six weeksa year by Member States where less than 70% of the population wear seat belts, in particular where at times the non-compliance is frequent.
Information for European drivers
The Committee feels that, if this proposal is to be effective, road users should be informed about its rules. This information should be passed on to drivers by, for example, road safety bodiesand automobile clubs.
More safety on our roads
Members believe that, by adopting these measures, a contribution will be made to more safety on our roads. The EU has set itself the ambitious objective of reducing by 50% the number of persons killed on the roads by 2010. The four offencescovered by this proposal are the leading causes of road deaths: almost 75%.
The report was adopted in Committee with 49 votes in favour, none against and one abstention.
08/09/2008In the Chair : Gabriele Albertini (EPP-ED, IT) Procedure: Co-decision, first reading - Plenary vote: October