Numerous studies performed in the EU-27 have shown that, generally, a great cause of road accidents and crashes occurred: a) due the lack of driving experience, and b) serious breaches of road traffic laws. The higher level of crashes and fatalities involving novice drivers indicates a need to adapt the requirements for issuing driving licenses.
Problems on the roads are becoming really serious recently: e.g. on average, yearly over 14.5 million traffic offences are committed on the territory of the EU-27 member states with two regularly happenings: a) vehicles are registered abroad, and b) a driver was not identified on the spot.
Around 8.2 million payments were made for the offences: of which 8 million voluntarily, some 200,000 following successful enforcement; but still about 6.3 million offences resulted in the offender not being held accountable. Therefore some 40% of cross-border offences were hence committed with impunity.
This is relatively high, in particular compared to the general level of impunity for comparable offences in the EU states (mostly speeding detected by speed cameras), which ranges from 5% in the most successful countries (the Netherlands, Sweden, Poland) to 10-20% on average (Luxembourg, Latvia, Ireland, Spain, Estonia, Hungary).
More data in: ETCS (2022): How Traffic Law Enforcement Can Contribute To Safer Roads, PIN Flash Report 42, March 2022; in https://etsc.eu/wp-content/uploads/ETSC_PINFLASH42_v2TH_JC_FINAL_corrected-060522.pdf
New Commission’s proposal
In view of complicated and quite dangerous situation on the roads, the Commission’s proposal makes several changes in the following driving aspects:
1. Accompanied driving: young people will be able to take their driving test at 17 years of age. However, they will not be authorised to drive alone before 18 years of age. Such a system already exists for category B licenses in some EU member states (e.g. Germany and Austria) and has had a very positive impact on road safety. This requirement has enabled young drivers to acquire valuable driving experience under the supervision of an adult in his or her first year of driving.
The same rule will also apply to category C licenses (for lorries) to facilitate access to the driving profession for young people. Lowering the age threshold for training may also make a career in the transport sector more attractive for young people, thus helping, over time, to ease the shortage of professional drivers, without compromising on road safety.
2. Greater focus on risk awareness: in addition to the general requirements that were already contained in previous EU legislation on driving licenses, young and novice drivers will now be tested on the interaction between a motorised vehicle and more vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and users of e-scooters, e-bikes or other relatively new transport devices.
3. Zero tolerance for drinking driving: a mandatory probation period of a minimum of two years will be established for novice drivers. This will make novice drivers subject to strict rules on driving under the influence of alcohol (zero tolerance). However, the EU member states may define additional rules and/or restrictions for the two-year period after the new drivers have passed their driving test and obtained their driving license.
4. Easing the language burden of taking a driving test: if a driving test candidate does not master the language of the country in which they are taking the test, and if it is not possible to use an interpreter to assist them, the new rules will make it easier for them to take the test in an EU country in which they do master the language. This will make life easier for mobile citizens within the EU, especially young people, by ensuring they are tested on their driving skills rather than their language knowledge.
Reference to: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/QANDA_23_1146