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EU-wide driving fines from 2013

European parliament approves cross-border penalties in a bid to deter drivers of foreign-registered cars

VISITORS to France with foreign-registered cars will no longer be immune from fines for speeding and other motoring offences, after the European parliament approved new rules from 2013.

The new system of cross-border driving fines will make it easier for all 27 EU member states to swap car registration details if an offence is committed outside a driver's home country.

It means, for example, that the owner of a French-registered car caught speeding or using a mobile phone while driving while on a visit to the UK could still be pursued.

The offences included in the directive include speeding, drink-driving, failing to wear a seatbelt and failing to stop at a red traffic light.

Also covered are driving under the influence of drugs, illegal use of an emergency lane, using a mobile phone while driving, or failing to wear a safety helmet on a motorbike or scooter.

The offender's home country would provide car registration details electronically to the country where the offence took place. The fines would be based on the country of the offence - for example: the British fine if a French driver is caught speeding in the UK.

The European Commission hopes the new rules will act as a deterrent. EU figures suggest that foreign drivers account for five per cent of road traffic but 15 per cent of speeding offences.

European commissioner for transport Siim Kallas said: "The four big killers like speeding and drunk driving are still responsible for thousands of needless deaths on Europe's roads, and each death shatters a family's life.

"We know that a foreign driver is three times more likely to commit an offence than a resident driver. These new rules should have a powerful deterrent effect and change behaviour.

"Many people still seem to think that when they go abroad the rules no longer apply to them. My message is that they do apply and now we are going to apply them."

The new directive does not mean that motoring offences will be punished in the same way in every member state. Each country remains free to set its own fines according to national law.

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