Features
21 Mar 24

Fleet drivers will not escape cross-border driving offences

Company car and van drivers who commit cross-border driving offences in EU Member States will no longer be able to escape prosecution, following a tightening of enforcement rules. The new measures also specifically mention rental cars hired in other Member States.

Last week, the European Parliament and Council reached a political agreement designed to ensure non-resident drivers respect the traffic rules when driving in other EU countries.

As recently as 2019, in 40% of cross-border offences the offender either was not identified or the fine was not enforced.

Rental cars

The new directive also targets offences committed by business and private travellers in rental cars.

“A number of Member States are now facing a phenomenon where serious road offences are being committed in cars rented in other Member States. The drivers of such rental cars who committed a traffic offence are going unpunished because they can exploit differences in rules from one Member State to another, as well as shortcomings as regards the exchange of information and mutual assistance,” it said.

Vision Zero

The European Commission’s ‘Vision Zero’ aims to halve deaths and serious injuries on EU roads by 2030, and eliminate them by 2050, yet its most recent data shows a 4% year-on-year rise in road fatalities in 2022, and it concedes that the pace of road safety improvement is not sufficient to reach its targets.

Adina Vălean, Commissioner for Transport, said the agreement delivers the first directive of the European Commission’s Road Safety Package, adopted last year, and provides clear tools to help increase road safety across Europe. 

Multiple offences

In addition to speeding and drink- and drug- driving, the cooperation between national authorities will also cover:

  • not keeping sufficient distance from the vehicle in front;
  • dangerous overtaking;
  • dangerous parking;
  • crossing one or more solid white lines;
  • driving in the wrong direction;
  • not respecting rules on the use of emergency corridors;
  • not respecting road safety-related vehicle access restrictions, such as school zones, pedestrian zones, cycling lanes, and low/zero emission zones;
  • and the use of an overloaded vehicle.

Cross-border co-operation

The new agreement between Council and Parliament includes provisions to streamline mutual assistance procedures between EU Member States, clarifying how authorities can access vehicle registration data, identify offending drivers, serve them with traffic notices, and enforce fines.

The deal obliges EU country to reply to information requests without “any undue delay” and within two months of gathering all necessary information. Moreover, after receiving a request from a country in which an offence occurred, the offender’s EU country of residence can take over the collection of road traffic fines, provided it is higher than EUR 70.

Georges Gilkinet, Belgian minister for mobility, said: “Stricter and more efficient rules on enforcing penalties for traffic offences will improve safety on European motorways and guarantee safer and greener residential areas across the EU.”

Traffic laws

Fleet managers and drivers will be able to access road safety rules in each EU country via a European Commission IT portal that will also include appeal procedures against fines.

Kosma Złotowski, EP rapporteur, said: “A foreign number plate cannot be a licence for impunity on the road. The updated rules will facilitate the exchange of information on road traffic offenders between member states, while ensuring drivers have easy access to the necessary information through digital communication channels.”

Timeframe

It could still be months or even years before the new enforcement procedures are introduced. The European Parliament and Council now need to adopt formally their agreement, at which point the new rules will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union. Countries will then have two and a half years to transpose them into national laws.

Image: shutterstock_2392738707

Authored by: Jonathan Manning