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EU gives red light to foreign traffic offenders

September 12, 2008 5:10 PM

The European Parliament's Transport Committee has given overwhelming support to a new EU law for cross-border enforcement of penalties for the serious driving offences of speeding, drink driving, failure to wear a seatbelt and running red lights.

Currently tickets for traffic offences incurred in states other than the driver's home country go mostly ignored. This means impunity for irresponsible driving that puts safety at risk. Under the new legislation the authorities in the offender's home state will be notified that he has failed to pay within the specified period, and they will then recognise and enforce the penalty, whether criminal or administrative.

London Liberal Democrat MEP Sarah Ludford, who has campaigned with Transport for London for proper cross-border enforcement, said:

"In an EU which is supposed to be a free movement area, it is unacceptable that dangerous drivers can get off scot-free by skipping the country. Londoners will be safer in future when we are no longer taken for a ride by drivers exploiting loopholes in the system."

"But in addition, I am encouraged that we can build on this legislation to end all cross-border fine dodging. London taxpayers currently lose £24 million a year because of inadequate systems to make foreign drivers pay fines for less serious breaches like parking, breach of the congestion zone or illegal use of bus lanes."

"The European Commission must submit a report after 2 years on possible extension in scope of the Directive, and I will continue to be press for effective enforcement across the EU of all traffic infringements."

"Of course, this system works both ways and the measures will mean that British drivers abroad must also take care to drive responsibly in order to avoid being stung by a fine or even prosecution."