Plans unveiled for traffic offences to cross EU borders
(BRUSSELS) - Motorists who commit traffic offences when driving in another European Union country will be prosecuted by that country under new plans announced Wednesday by the European Commission.
However, drivers who pick up parking fines while abroad, almost never followed-up, will not be pursued under plans to share vehicle registration data across European Union member states borders.
"A foreign driver is three times more likely to commit an offence than a resident driver," said EU transport commissioner Siim Kallas, highlighting the link with figures showing that 100 people die every day on Europe's roads.
"Many people seem to think that when they go abroad the rules no longer apply to them. My message is that they do apply and now we are going to apply them."
Justice ministers meeting on Thursday in Brussels will consider proposals for sharing information across the 27 EU states to target offences including what the commission called the four "big killers" behind 75 percent of road fatalities.
The commission said foreign drivers account for some five percent of traffic but around 15 percent of speeding offences. "Most go unpunished, with countries unable to pursue drivers once they return home," it said.
In France, non-residents can be responsible for up to 40 percent of all speeding offences during the peak tourist season.
Eight offences are targeted, with a spokeswoman spelling out that parking fines were not included because the proposal is concerned with road safety.
These are: speeding; failing to stop at traffic lights; failing to wear seatbelts; drink driving; driving under influence of drugs; failing to wear safety helmets; illegal use of an emergency lane; and illegal use of a mobile phone while driving.
The national law of the state where the offence is committed would take precedence under the proposal, the EU stressed.
However, the draft law will only deal with financial penalties, the commission adding that "penalty points linked with a driving licence and withdrawing of a driving licence are not dealt with."
If the national governments give the green light, a legislative proposal must be approved by lawmakers in the European Parliament before becoming law, with a two-year period for states to implement the changes.
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