Road safety: EU crackdown on drivers committing traffic offences abroad

Drivers will be punished for traffic offences they commit abroad, including the four “big killers” causing 75% of road fatalities – speeding, breaking traffic lights, failure to use seatbelts and drink driving – following an agreement by EU Transport Ministers meeting in Brussels today.

European Commission Vice President Siim Kallas, responsible for Transport said, “A foreign driver is three times more likely to commit an offence than a resident driver. 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.”

EU figures suggest that foreign drivers account for 5% of traffic but around 15 % of speeding offences. Most go unpunished, with countries unable to pursue drivers once they return home.

The proposals

The proposal for a Directive on cross border enforcement in the field of road safety aim to remedy that situation. Ministers have reached an agreement on a text that targets traffic offences with a critical impact on road safety, including the four “big killers” causing 75% of road fatilities:

  1. Speeding
  2. Failing to stop at traffic light
  3. Failing to wear seatbelts
  4. Drink driving

As well as,

  1. Driving under influence of drugs
  2. Failing to wear safety helmets
  3. Illegal use of an emergency lane
  4. Illegal use of mobile phone while driving.

How will it work?

The proposals would enable EU drivers to be identified and thus prosecuted for offences committed in a Member State other than then one where their car is registered. In practical terms, the new rules will allow for an electronic data exchange network to be put in place to allow for the exchange of the necessary data between the country in which the offence was committed and the country in which the car was registered. Once the owner’s name and address are known, an offence notification, for which a model is established by the proposed Directive, will be sent to him/her. It will be for the Member State of offence (where the offence was committed) to decide on the follow up for the traffic offence. The Directive does not harmonise either the nature of the offence nor the penalties for the offence. So it is the national rules in the Member State of offence, according to national law, which will continue to apply regarding both the nature of the offence and penalties.

What happens next?

The legislative proposals must be approved by MEPs in a vote in the European Paliament before becoming law. There is then a two year period for Member States to transpose EU legislation before it comes into force, possibly by 2013.


The EU Road Safety Action Programme 2011-2020, which was launched in July 2010, aims to cut the number or road deaths by half by 2020. For more information on the detailed elements of the programme, as well as country.



Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Go top