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Traffic laws must be enforced - not just to sanction violations but also to deter offenders and encourage responsible driving.
Enforcement actions frequently target high-risk violations like speeding, drinking and driving, and not using a seat belt. Fines for failing to stop at a red traffic light, use of mobile phones and other lesser offences are also common.
Traditional methods of police enforcement include on-the-spot roadside checks and the use of automated devices such as speed cameras. To be most effective, police enforcement should be publicised, and involve a mix of highly visible and low-profile activities.
The EU recommends consistent enforcement of laws against speeding, drinking and driving, and driving without a seat belt. Research has shown that better enforcement of these rules could prevent 5000 deaths per year in the EU. Legislation has been proposed to ease cross-border enforcement of fines for major traffic offences.
A legal study collected information on traffic rules and enforcement practices for speeding, drinking and driving, and seat-belt use in 15 EU countries.
The PEPPER project considered how to enforce road safety rules effectively and efficiently, focusing on speeding, drink-driving and the refusal to use seat belts. It analysed how to disseminate good enforcement practices, studied the potential of new technology and detected a need for better data on enforcement.
Cross-border enforcement of road traffic rules
Encouraging road users to improve their behaviour by complying with basic rules is a crucial element in making the European roads safer. This applies especially to respecting applicable speed and alcohol limits and wearing seat belts, since the violation of these rules, together with the distraction, are the main 'road killers'. In order to ensure compliance with the law, persistent follow-up of road traffic offences and enforcement of sanctions are necessary. Controls should be systematic; sanctions should be effective and applied to all offenders that would help to move closer to the long-term goal of zero road fatalities in the EU by 2050 ("Vision Zero"). However, more needs to be done to improve enforcement instruments throughout the European Union. This could be achieved by improving enforcement methods applied in the Member States, and by establishing fair and effective EU-wide system for facilitating cross border enforcement of road-safety-related traffic rules.
- EU recommendation 2004/345/EC – enforcement: road safety
- EU communication on a 2003 recommendation – enforcement: road safety
- EU decision 2005/214/JHA – mutual recognition for financial penalties
- Proposal – EU directive on cross-border enforcement in the field of road safety COM(2008) 151 final
- Directive on cross-border exchange of information on road safety related traffic offences