No more impunity for EU cross-border traffic offence

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The Independent Travel

European motorists committing serious traffic offences are to be tracked down soon across much of the EU following the endorsement Wednesday of a new road safety plan by the European parliament.

Under the new directive, still to be approved by European Union ministers, EU states will swap car registration details to track down drivers committing offences outside their home countries.

Officials hope the measures will come into effect in 2013.

Offences punishable under the plan include the four major killers responsible for 75 percent of road fatalities - speeding, drink driving, failing to wear a seatbelt and failing to stop at traffic lights.

"We know that a foreign driver is three times more likely to commit an offence than a resident driver," said transport commissioner Siim Kallas.

"These new rules should have a powerful deterrent effect and change behaviour."

While foreign drivers account for only five percent of traffic on Europe's roads, they represent 15 percent of speeding offences, according to EU figures.

The new rules provides for the offender's country to send his details to the country where the offence took place, with fines and payment based on the laws of that state.

After being blocked for two years by member states, the new rules are a watered-down version of a first proposal made by the EU executive arm in 2008 that was approved by parliament.

Spanish Socialist rapporteur Ines Ayala Sander regretted however that Britain, Denmark and Ireland had opted out of the road safety directive.