Key MEP wants safety improvements for driving licences

  • September 15, 2023

Karima Delli, the MEP in charge of drafting the European Parliament’s response to a European Commission proposal to revise rules on driving licences has called for a number of changes that could boost road safety.

One notable innovation in Ms Delli’s draft report is a proposal for a new B+ licence for cars weighing more than 1.8 tonnes.  New drivers would only be able to apply for the licence to drive the largest and heaviest vehicles, such as the BMW X5 when they are above 21 years of age, and after two years of driving.  

Around 40% of road deaths in the EU occur in collisions involving one or more young drivers or motorcycle riders. Both road deaths and serious injuries carry a huge cost to society. In monetary terms alone, the yearly cost of road collisions in the EU has been estimated at around EUR 280 billion. 

A study published last month by ETSC’s Belgian member VIAS institute found that higher, heavier and more powerful vehicles, such as SUVs and pickups, are substantially more risky for occupants of smaller vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists.  

The draft parliamentary report also removes references to the Commission’s proposal that Member States should allow 16-year-olds to drive any type of car, as long as it is fitted with a speed limiter set at 45 km/h.  That idea was strongly criticised by ETSC in April, and also when it was first suggested by the Finnish government several years ago.  

Ms Delli is against any reduction to the current minimum ages for driving in Europe.  

While the Commission had suggested a probationary period with zero tolerance on alcohol for new drivers, the Delli report goes further, in line with ETSC’s suggestions on graduated driving licences, to also include restrictions on drugs and night-time driving for new drivers.  

Ellen Townsend, Policy Director at ETSC commented: “With road deaths on the increase again in Europe, the EU needs every tool available to make the roads safer for all.  Young people are over-represented in crashes, deaths and injuries, and it is perfectly sensible to introduce graduated driving licences.”

ETSC is also calling for professional van drivers (<3.5t) to be required to undertake additional and regularly updated professional training.  Today the EU only requires this for lorry and bus drivers.