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Road safety: cross-border application of the legislation

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Road safety: cross-border application of the legislation

The European Union is implementing policy intended to improve road safety and reduce the number of fatalities and injuries on roads. The application of sanctions is an important instrument with which to attain this goal but sanctions are often not enforced when offences are committed with a vehicle registered in a different Member State to the one where the offence is committed. A system for exchange of information will help facilitate cross-border enforcement of sanctions against the most dangerous traffic offences.


Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council facilitating cross-border enforcement in the field of road safety [COM(2008) 151 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


Traffic offences committed in a Member State with a vehicle registered in another Member State often go unpunished. Bilateral agreements have been signed by several Member States to put an end to this impunity but these agreements have proved difficult to implement. Failure to enforce sanctions against non-resident offenders renders road safety policy carried out at the Member State level less effective and discriminates against resident drivers.

The objective of this proposal is to facilitate enforcement against drivers who commit an offence in a Member State different to the one where the vehicle is registered.

The proposal calls for the creation of an electronic data exchange system across all European Union countries which would allow the authorities of a Member State where a traffic offence has been committed to identify the offender and notify them of the sanction resulting from that offence.


The directive concerns offences:

  • which cause the greatest number of accidents and deaths on the roads (speeding *, not wearing a seat belt *, failing to stop at a red light *, driving under the influence of alcohol *)
  • for which the sanction concerned is or includes a financial penalty.

System for exchange of information

When an offence has been committed in a Member State with a vehicle registered in another Member State and the offender cannot be sanctioned by the authorities in charge of pursuing offences in the State of offence, the competent authority in that State shall send the vehicle registration number and information concerning the date and place of the offence to the competent authority in the State where the offender resides.

The competent authority in the State of residence * sends information pertaining to the vehicle and to the holder of the vehicle registration certificate to the competent authority in the State of offence *.

Offence notification

Upon receipt of this information, the competent authority in the State of offence sends an offence notification to the holder of the vehicle registration certificate. This notification contains the details of the offence and the amount of the financial penalty which is due, as well as the possibilities for contestation and appeal. The offence notification is written in the official language or languages of the State of residence.

Central authorities

Each Member State shall designate a central authority to assist with the application of this Directive. Any person whose personal data are transmitted using this system may request to access data, obtain the correction of any inaccurate personal data or the deletion of any data recorded unlawfully from the central authority of the State of residence.


Launched in 2003, the European Road Safety Action Programme aims to halve the number of people killed on roads by 2010. In 2001, 54 000 people died on the roads of the 27 Member States. Between 2001 and 2007, the number of deaths decreased by 20%. While the number of road deaths fell by 6% in 2004 and 5% in 2006, it did not decrease in 2007, during which year 43 000 deaths occurred. The present proposal for a directive aims to encourage drivers to adopt better habits through a stricter observance of existing legislation.

Key terms of the act

  • State of offence: the Member State where the offence has been committed.
  • State of residence: Member State where the vehicle with which the offence has been committed is registered.
  • Speeding: exceeding speed limits in force in the State of offence for the road or type of vehicle concerned.
  • Drink-driving: driving with a blood alcohol level higher than the maximum level in force in the State of offence.
  • Non-use of a seat belt: failure to comply with the requirement to wear a seat belt or use a child restraint in accordance with Council Directive 91/671/ECC and with the national law in the State of offence.
  • Failure to stop at a red traffic light: the offence of driving through a red traffic light as it is defined in the law of the State of offence.



Official Journal


COM(2008) 151



Last updated: 04.08.2008