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EU to Penalize Traffic Violators Across the Bloc

Europeans soon won't be able to get off the hook so easily if they run a red light in another EU country. The bloc has proposed linking driver databases and coordinating traffic police efforts.

Accident sign

That's precisely what the EU wants to avoid

Foreign drivers make up only 5 percent of the traffic on EU roads, but account for around 15 percent of the traffic violations, said the European Commission on Wednesday, March 19.

"As things stand today, a driver committing a [traffic] offense in another country of the European Union evades prosecution … because of the difficulty of identifying them," the Commission said in a statement.

The EU body proposed joint measures that would target traffic violators across the 27-member bloc -- in particular for speeding, drunk driving, not wearing a seat belt and running red lights. At least one of these four offences played a role in nearly 75 percent of all road deaths in the bloc, said the Commission.

Speed limit sign

Don't even think about driving faster, no matter which country you're in

Measures aimed at lowering traffic deaths

"In 2001 we set ourselves the goal of reducing by half the number of deaths on our roads over a 10-year period," said EU Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot. "If we are to reach this target, we need to make additional efforts now."

Around 54,000 traffic-related deaths occurred in Europe in 2001, while the number dropped to 43,000 in 2007.

Central server to link driver data

As part of the plan, a centralized computer server would be established to link all 27 national driver identification databases. A police officer in France, for example, could request the address of a British citizen from British authorities and send the offender a ticket.

Street signs

Europeans will have to pay close attention to the signs, even while on vacation

A standard form would be translated into the EU's 23 official languages so that drivers could not claim they didn't understand a summons.

The proposal, however, does not include the possibility for European drivers to accrue penalty points in another country nor have their licenses revoked.

All 27 member states must approve the bill for it to take effect, which could take up to two years. According to reports, seven countries have already passed the national legislation necessary for implementing the EU regulation.

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