European Parliament lifts road block on cross border traffic penalties

  • February 11, 2015

ETSC and TISPOL – the European Traffic Police Network welcome today’s European Parliament vote to approve a new law enabling police to enforce penalties on foreign motorists who break traffic rules.

Non-resident drivers account for approximately 5% of road traffic in the EU but are responsible for 15% of speeding offences, according to European Commission figures. The law is expected to save at least 400 lives a year.

The new rules cover offences including speeding, drink driving, using a mobile phone at the wheel and ignoring red lights.

Antonio Avenoso, Executive Director of the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) said:
“Today’s vote will help put an end to the injustice of foreign drivers escaping traffic penalties while locals get punished for the same offence. This is a long overdue change. The deterrent effect is important, knowing that you can be caught plays a key role in preventing dangerous driving.”

The law will come into effect in most EU countries later this year; Denmark, Ireland and the UK will have two additional years. Those three countries opted-out of an earlier version of the rules, but agreed to back a new proposal after the European Court of Justice ruled last year that the legal basis had to be changed. The rules are also set to be reviewed in 2016.

TISPOL General Secretary Ruth Purdie commented:
“The next step will be to improve enforcement of traffic laws across the EU, starting with minimum standards for large-scale, regular and visible police enforcement actions on the three main causes of death: speeding, failure to wear a seat belt and drink driving.”

The European Parliament’s vote is the culmination of a seven-year legislative process and today’s positive result is thanks in no small part to several MEPs who have fought tirelessly for stronger enforcement of road safety rules across the EU. Inés Ayala Sender, a Spanish MEP, deserves particular credit for shepherding this law through the EU decision-making process since it was first proposed in 2008.

Notes to editors

  • The European Commission has produced a website and mobile app that highlights the main traffic rules in all 28 EU member states.
  • ETSC has published an FAQ on the new rules, available here.