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Tracing traffic offenders across borders: EP approves new data-sharing rules

Revised rules on the cross-border sharing of traffic offenders’ data, which should help ensure that drivers who commit offences while abroad in the EU do not escape fines, were approved by the Parliament on Wednesday. These rules, which aim to ensure equal treatment of drivers and improve road safety, will be extended to the UK, Ireland and Denmark within two years.

“To fulfill the new EU target of cutting road deaths by half we need new and more effective road-safety instruments, such as this directive to fight impunity. Citizens are of course never thrilled to receive a letter telling them they have committed a traffic offence, but they too welcome the fact that everyone in the EU will be treated equally, no matter where their vehicle is registered”, said rapporteur Inés Ayala Sender (S&D, ES).

“The directive has already proven to be a very effective first step in countering impunity on EU roads. It will serve as a deterrent for foreign drivers who now know they can be notified of any offence they commit whilst abroad”, she added.

New legal basis approved

The changes approved by the Parliament provide a new legal basis(transport safety) for the data exchange rules, as required by the European Court of Justice on 6 May 2014which ruledthatthe previous one (police cooperation) was incorrect.

UK, Ireland and Denmark included

The old directive did not apply in the UK, Ireland and Denmark, but the change in legal basis means that they must put the new one into effect in their national laws within two years of its entry into force.

Offences subject to cross-border fines

The cross-border data exchange rules govern how EU member states share their national vehicle registration data in order to track down drivers liable to fines for the following safety-related offences:

  • speeding,
  • not using a seatbelt,
  • failing to stop at red lights,
  • drink driving,
  • driving under the influence of drugs,
  • motorcyclists not wearing a safety helmet,
  • using a forbidden lane, and
  • illegally using a mobile phone, or any other communications device, while  driving.

Next steps

The agreement now still needs the formal approval of the EU Council of Ministers. The current data exchange rules remain in place until 6 May 2015, to allow time for the change of legal basis before the revised ones take effect.


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