More than 20,000 lives were lost on EU roads last year. The majority of victims were pedestrians, cyclists and users of scooters and motorbikes.
With this context in mind, the European Commission has recently proposed a new road safety package to reduce the number of accidents on EU roads and help bring the number of road fatalities to zero by 2050 (Vision Zero).
The proposals aims to:
- Simplify rules on driving licences while adapting them to technological and medical progress;
- Remove obstacles to cross-border mobility;
- Ensure no impunity for those who break road safety rules across borders.
The proposal on driving licences amends existing EU law and is inspired by best practices already in force in several Member States.
A key objective of the new rules will be improving road safety, with measures including:
- A probation period of at least two years for novice drivers after passing the test, and a zero-tolerance rule on drink-driving. This is essential as even if young drivers only represent 8% of all car drivers, 2 out of 5 fatal collisions involve a driver or rider aged under 30.
- Allowing young people to take their test and commence accompanied driving of cars and lorries from the age of 17, to gain driving experience.
- Adapting driver training and testing to better prepare drivers for the presence of vulnerable users on the road. This will help improve safety for pedestrians, cyclists, as well as users of e-scooters and e-bikes as the EU transitions to more sustainable urban mobility.
- A more targeted assessment of medical fitness, taking into account advances in medical treatment for diseases such as diabetes. Drivers will also be encouraged to update their driving skills and knowledge to keep up with technological developments.
Current EU rules on cross-border enforcement have helped to ensure that non-resident road offenders do not remain anonymous. Nonetheless, in 2019 some 40% of cross-border offences were committed with impunity, either because the offender was not identified or because the payment was not enforced.
The proposal seeks to address this by allowing enforcement authorities to gain access to national driving licence registers. The Commission is also proposing to strengthen the role of established national contact points so they can better cooperate with the enforcement authorities involved in the investigation of offences. This will address current shortcomings in cooperation between Member States when investigating offences.
Furthermore, the current law covers some of the most frequent and egregious offences, such as speeding and drink-driving. The Commission proposes to expand the scope of traffic offences covered to:
- not keeping sufficient distance from the vehicle in front;
- dangerous overtaking;
- dangerous parking;
- crossing one or more solid white lines;
- wrong-way driving;
- not respecting rules on the use of emergency corridors;
- the use of an overloaded vehicle.
These additions will help reduce impunity for such offences and improve Member States' ability to penalise offenders from other Member States. It will also ensure equal treatment of resident and non-resident offenders.
To prevent impunity among road traffic offenders, a new system will be put in place, allowing for an EU-wide driving disqualification when a Member State decides to disqualify a driver because of an offence committed on its territory. Holding road traffic offenders accountable in all Member States is essential for road safety.
More information can be found at the link here.
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