Monday 11 December 2017

Irish drivers can no longer dodge speeding fines while on the continent

Non-resident drivers account for about 5pc of road users in EU countries, European Commission research shows, but they make up 15pc of speeding offences. Stock picture
Non-resident drivers account for about 5pc of road users in EU countries, European Commission research shows, but they make up 15pc of speeding offences. Stock picture
Geraldine Herbert

Geraldine Herbert

Irish motorists who speed while driving their own cars on the continent will no longer be able to avoid fines.

Under a new EU directive, European police forces and other enforcement authorities will be able to share information to help them better enforce traffic offences by non-resident drivers. The new law covers eight traffic offences, including the four "big killers" that cause 75pc of road fatalities - speeding, running red lights, failure to use seat belts and drink-driving.

Other offences included under the new rules are driving under the influence of drugs; using a forbidden lane; using a mobile phone while driving; and, for motorcyclists, not wearing a safety helmet.

Many EU countries have already implemented the directive, which was rolled out in 2015, but Ireland was given a two-year exemption from the rules.

The directive was due to come into force on May 7 but a Department of Transport spokesperson told the Sunday Independent that the delay had been down to legal issues surrounding implementation. Those issues have now been clarified and the department was moving to implement the directive as soon as possible.

Previously, Irish motorists could be fined only if they were stopped by the police or were in a rented a hire car.

But the new directive means police will be able to track drivers through their car registration plate. Drivers must pay a fine but they will not receive penalty points.

However, a plan to harmonise penalty points under the same legislation is currently under review.

Non-resident drivers account for about 5pc of road users in EU countries, European Commission research shows, but they make up 15pc of speeding offences.

In France, the number is 25pc of the total offences and during peak holidays the figure can rise to as high as 50pc.

Under the new rules, each EU country will have a national contact point in which prosecuting authorities will be able to access an information exchange system to trace foreign drivers.

Sunday Independent

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