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Ireland opts out of key road safety legislation

Ireland has opted out of key European legislation that requires the exchange information on drivers who commit traffic offences in other countries.

New European legislation comes into effect today, November 7, requiring EU Member States to exchange information on drivers who commit traffic offences in other countries.

This information exchange will ensure that foreign offenders can be identified and punished across borders. It will further improve the consistent enforcement of road safety rules throughout the EU by ensuring equal treatment of offenders.

The legislation covers the four “big killers” that cause 75 per cent of road fatalities: speeding, not stopping at red traffic lights, non-use of seatbelts and drink driving.

EU figures suggest that foreign drivers account for 5 per cent of traffic but around 15 per cent of speeding offences. Most have gone unpunished so far, with countries unable to pursue drivers when they return home.

It is hoped that these new rules will have a powerful deterrent effect and change the behaviour of many motorists who may previously have assumed they were beyond the reach of the law while driving in other countries.

It has been estimated that nearly 500 lives a year could be saved under a system where all drivers have to comply with traffic legislation, regardless of what country they are travelling in.

The new legislation removes the opportunity to drive away from justice. Cross border enforcement of traffic offences will prove a vital tool for police officers across Europe and will help make a big contribution to the European Commission’s aim of halving road deaths by 2020.