Professional drivers’ age and EU digital driving licence 

European Commission wants to reduce professional drivers’ age and introduce EU digital driving licence.

European Commission has recently presented proposals to modernise driving licence rules, including the introduction of a digital driving licence valid throughout the EU and new provisions to facilitate the enforcement of traffic rules across borders. The main aim of the proposed rules is to improve road safety and achieve EU Vision Zero – having no deaths on EU roads by 2050. 

Three directives will be revised:  

Addressing drivers’ shortage 

European Commission has published a proposal to revise EU Directive on driving licences. New rules should allow young drivers to gain experience through an accompanied driving scheme. Already from the age of 17, young people will be able to learn to drive and obtain a licence. Young professionals will be able to drive alone from the age of 18.  

In order to attract third country drivers the Commission has put forward a proposal for common EU rules on exchange of a driving licence issued by a third country to a holder that has taken up normal residence in one of the EU Member States. The aim was to reduce unnecessary administrative burdens. 

Better road safety 

The proposal to revise existing rules on driving licences is based on best practices already in force in several Member States. A key objective of these new rules is to improve road safety. European Commission has therefore proposed: 

  • a probation period of at least two years for novice drivers after passing the test; 
  • a zero-tolerance rule on drink-driving; 
  • allowing young people to take their test and commence accompanied driving of cars and lorries from the age of 17, to gain driving experience; 
  • Adapting driver training and testing to improve safety for pedestrians, cyclists, as well as users of e-scooters and e-bikes; 
  • a more targeted assessment of medical fitness, taking into account advances in medical treatment for diseases such as diabetes; 
  • updated testing rules will take into account the transition tozero-emission vehicles; 
  • the compulsory administrative renewal of all new driving licences every 10 years. 

Digital driving licence 

According to European Commission press release “To simplify the recognition of driving licences between Member States, the Commission proposes the introduction of a digital driving licence, in a world first.It will be much easier to replace, renew or exchange a driving licence since all procedures will be online.In the same vein, it will also be easier for citizens from non-EU countries with comparable road safety standards, to exchange their driving licence for an EU one.” 

European Commission has also proposed new categorisation of driving licences according to types of vehicles and minimum ages to drive them. 

Cross-border enforcement of fines 

Currently there are rules in the EU on cross-border enforcement of fines. However, according to the Commission in 2019 some 40% of cross-border offences were committed with impunity. In order to improve the situation European Commission has proposed to allow enforcement authorities to gain access to national driving licence registers. The Commission is also proposing to strengthen the role of established national contact points so they can better cooperate with the enforcement authorities involved in the investigation of offences. 

The current law covers some of the most frequent and dangerous offences, such as speeding and drink-driving. The Commission proposes to expand the scope by adding additional traffic offences: 

  • not keeping sufficient distance from the vehicle in front; 
  • dangerous overtaking; 
  • dangerous parking; 
  • crossing one or more solid white lines; 
  • wrong-way driving; 
  • not respecting rules on the use of emergency corridors; 
  • the use of an overloaded vehicle. 

In order to guarantee equal rights of people accused of traffic offences, the Commission  has proposed unified content and delivery of penalty notices. A dedicated IT portal will give citizens easy access to information on the road safety rules in place in each Member State  and, in time, allow them to pay any fines directly. 

What’s next? 

The proposals have been now sent to the European Parliament and to the Council. It will be up to those two institutions to negotiate and decide on final rules. Member States will have two years to transpose EU law into national legal framework and three years to start enforcing it.   

Source of information: European Commission press release “Road safety: Commission proposes updated requirements for driving licences and better cross-border enforcement of road traffic rules”. 




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