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Road safety: EU adopts positions for safer road traffic

by EUToday Correspondents
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Road safety

To ensure safer road traffic across Europe, the European Council has adopted its common positions on two Commission proposals forming part of the so-called ‘road safety’ legislative package, namely amending or repealing:

  • the 2006 and 2022 directives, as well as the 2012 and 2018 regulations on driving licences
  • the 2015 directive on cross-border exchange of information on road-safety-related traffic offences

Óscar Puente, Spanish minister of transport and sustainable mobility

 

This is a paradigm shift for the driving licences regime in Europe.

 

Together with strengthening mechanisms for mutual assistance between Member States to facilitate the identification of the concerned person and the enforcement of fines the new legislation will improve safety on European motorways and guarantee safer residential areas across the EU.

Óscar Puente, Spanish minister of transport and sustainable mobility

Directive on driving licences

The Commission’s proposal aims to improve road safety and to facilitate the free movement of citizens within the EU. The proposal should be seen as a complete overhaul of the existing directive since the last major reform took place in 2006 and had to be transposed by member states until 2013. The proposal introduces four main new elements in the current regime:

  • a European scheme for novice drivers allowing for accompanied driving after obtaining a licence at the age of 17
  • stricter conditions for novice drivers during their first 2 years (or more depending on member state rules) of driving
  • a mobile driving licence as part of the European digital identity wallet, and
  • the use of self-assessments as a filter towards medical examination of the driver’s fitness.

The general thrust of the Commission’s proposal was retained in the Council’s common position. The Council introduced, however, several changes to the Commission proposal, which can be summarised as follows:

  • to maintain voluntary the shortening of validity periods for driving licences of older people
  • a clearer outline of the screening of the physical and mental fitness to drive prior to the issuance and renewal of driving licences, based on different systems developed in the member states
  • alignment of the technical elements for mobile driving licences with the revision of the digital identity (eIDAS) regulation and better link between the adoption of implementing acts and member states’ obligation on implementation
  • more detailed guidance for the evaluation by the Commission of the road safety framework of third countries
  • refinement of the requirements for the accompanying person in the accompanied driving scheme which will be compulsory only for category B licence
  • reformulation of the conditions for the probationary period in view of member states’ competences and established practices
  • possibility for the citizen to have a theoretical exam, under certain conditions, in the member state of citizenship when different from the member state of residence, but no such option for the practical test.
Directive on cross-border exchange of information on road-safety-related traffic offences

The proposal aims to ensure that non-resident drivers respect the traffic rules when driving in other member states.

The general thrust of the Commission’s proposal was retained by the Council. The Council introduced, however, several changes to the proposal, mainly aiming to clarify the scope and the definitions of the legal act. This entails amongst others:

  • introducing the concept of the ‘concerned person’ and clarifying the roles and responsibilities of the national contact points and the competent authorities
  • more offences added to the Commission’s proposal, such as cases of not respecting vehicle access restrictions or rules at a railway level-crossing, as well as hit-and-run cases
  • further clarification of the different procedures related to accessing vehicle registration data and the different options for competent authorities to ask mutual assistance with a view to making sure that the concerned person is identified, that the traffic offence notice arrives to the right place and to better enforce road traffic fines.
  • all necessary safeguards put in place to protect the fundamental rights of the driver or any other concerned person.

In its EU road safety policy framework 2021-2030, the Commission recommitted to the ambitious aim to get close to zero deaths and zero serious injuries on EU roads by 2050 (“Vision Zero”), as well as to the medium-term goal to reduce deaths and serious injuries by 50% by 2030. However, road fatalities were up 4% last year from 2021, according to latest Commission data. This is still 9 % below pre-pandemic level, but the pace of improvement is not sufficient to reach the above-mentioned goals.

Click here for more on Transport Issues at EU Today

Main Image: By Rens Jacobs – https://beeldbank.rws.nl, Rijkswaterstaat, Attribution, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12821085

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