Photo credit @ Polizei Mittelfranken (illustrative purposes only)

European Parliament strengthens cross-border cooperation to tackle road traffic offences abroad

The European Parliament has approved new measures to strengthen cooperation between EU member states in pursuing traffic offenders across borders, aiming to tackle the issue of 40% of cross-border offences currently going unpunished.

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On Wednesday, MEPs reinforced EU member states cooperation in the cross-border investigation of traffic offences to help prevent reckless driving while abroad.

With approximately 40% of cross-border traffic offences currently going unpunished, MEPs updated the rules to get EU countries to cooperate more and help each other to find a foreign driver liable for a traffic offence. The new rules oblige national authorities to reply to requests from another EU country without delay, and no later than two months after it has gathered the necessary information.

In addition, upon request of the member state in which the offence occurred, the offender’s EU country of residence can take over the collection of road traffic fines, provided the amount is more than 70 euro and has not been paid after all legal options are exhausted.

The updated rules will expand the list of traffic offences committed by non-resident drivers that trigger cross-border assistance and can result in a fine. In addition to speeding, drink-driving or failing to stop at a red light, EU legislators added dangerous parking, dangerous overtaking, crossing a solid line and hit and run offences, amongst other offences.

The EU country where the traffic offence occurred will have 11 months from the date of the offence to issue a traffic offence notice. The offence notice must include the time and circumstances of the offence, as well as information on how to appeal the fine.

At the initiative of MEPs, private entities will be banned from helping EU countries collect traffic fines from foreign drivers (as of two years after the rules are transposed into national law).

To increase transparency and facilitate the implementation of the new rules, the Commission is tasked with creating an online portal listing the rules, appeal options and the relevant road traffic fines, amongst other information.

The new rules on cross-border exchange of information on road-safety-related traffic offences were adopted by 570 votes in favour, 36 votes against and 24 abstentions. Once Council has approved them, EU countries will have 30 months to prepare for their implementation.