87.EU Directive 2015/413/EU (Cross-Border Enforcement Directive/CBE Directive) provides access to vehicle registration data in order to identify non-resident offenders. Most Member States had to transpose the Directive into domestic law by 6 May 2015, but the UK (together with Denmark and Ireland) claimed an exemption as the UK has an opt-out on justice-related measures. Following a legal challenge, the Directive is now classed as a transport measure, for which the UK has no exemption.
88.UK traffic law is based on issuing penalties to, and charging, the driver of the vehicle, not the registered keeper. However, the CBE Directive only caters for the exchange of keeper information, and as such does not assist automatic enforcement against non-resident drivers in the UK. This was of concern to a number of witnesses. Rt Hon Mike Penning MP, Minister for Policing, observed that this issue relates especially to cameras, as a police officer on the side of the road has the power to arrest a non-resident driver if the officer is not happy with the evidence being presented to them. Andrew Jones MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, told us that Germany has the same law and has similar concerns to the UK.
89.We see the benefit in the intended purpose of the directive, as non-resident offenders must be enforced against. The laws of the UK relate to the actual driver of the vehicle, whereas the Directive as it stands only shares the vehicle’s registered keeper. We understand that work to remedy this is ongoing and that the Government intends to have the Directive changed by the time it is required to be transposed in May 2017. We recommend that the Government pursue changing the directive to make it effective and should report back on progress.
90.Paul Keasey highlighted issues with checking the insurance of foreign drivers. For a resident driver, it is possible to access national records at the side of the road to check if a driver is insured. We were told that “it is very difficult” for police to check foreign drivers at the side of the road at present. He said that there is a process for checking the insurance of non-resident drivers who do not have their physical papers, but that it would take time and “they are already driving on our roads”. We were also told, however, that for some nations bilateral agreements exist for the sharing of insurance information.
91.The insurance industry is by its nature multinational and information should be available across borders to allow for enforcement against foreign uninsured drivers. We recommend that the Government, in its discussions with EU colleagues on the CBE Directive, explore possibilities of expanding the Directive to allow for the sharing of insurance details in order to allow uninsured non-resident drivers to be enforced against with greater ease.
137 Department for Transport (); Q43 [Paul Keasey]; Q216 [Garry Forsyth]
138 Q295 [Mike Penning]
139 Q295 [Andrew Jones]
140 Q45 [Paul Keasey]
141 Q47 [Paul Keasey]
142 Q46 [Paul Keasey]
Prepared 11 March 2016