6 March 2011 by Pelle Neroth
Not for much longer.
For since the Council of Transport ministers' decision in December, and subject to the European parliament green light any time soon, a new order is set to prevail. Traffic offences will be enforceable across borders. Speed down the Autoroute du Soleil to the south of France, a motorway as well known for its Riviera-bound road maniacs as its speed cameras, and a ticket from the French authorities might appear in your English letterbox two weeks later.
The offences comprise speeding, talking on your mobile phone while driving, and failing to wear a seatbelt. However, points on the licence will not be deducted, even if it would have been a points offence in the UK. Some have raised objections. One motoring organisation I spoke to warned darkly of the system being abused by countries in eastern Europe that are members of the EU but with less clean justice systems: The fines will be collected by the Metropolitan police. But if you want to appeal you will have to travel to Bucharest.
Parking offences are not internationalised - yet. But the European parliament, revelling in the fantastic new powers over domestic legislation that the Lisbon treaty has given them, has proposed a second tranche of laws that could be implemented in a few years if this set is successful at curbing tourists' speeding. (Non resident drivers are supposedly responsible for 15% of motoring offences, but only 5% of road traffic.) So one of the new proposals on the line is that member states which have above average road traffic fatalities to boost the frequency of their speed checks. One possible future proposal would be that member states must test at least 30% of their driving population for drink driving every year. And, if seatbelt use is below 70%, to carry out "intensive police checks " over periods of at least six weeks three times a year.
It is true that horrific numbers of people die on the road in Europe and the EU totally failed to achieve its goal of having road deaths between 2000 and 2010. But is it really a good idea to swamp national enforcement bodies with further red tape that smacks of Eurocrat imperialism? Could not technology do the job of limiting speeds by using nudge psychology - as outlined here a few months ago - be more acceptable to Europeans?
The EU's enthusiasm is a bit worrying because it shows that the new EU shared competence over judicial affairs may prove to be the big thing arising out of the Lisbon treaty's many and confusing provisions. Someone ought to impose speed limits - very low ones - on the legislative chambers in Brussels.
Pelle Neroth -- EU correspondent
Posted By: Pelle Neroth @ 06 March 2011 04:42 AM Transport
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