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EU proposes digital driving licences, to also make it easier for non-EU drivers to exchange them

The European Commission on Wednesday issued proposals to simplify the recognition of driving licences between its member states, with the introduction of a digital driving licence, in a world first.

In a statement, the EU Commission said that it would then ‘be much easier to replace, renew or exchange a driving licence, since all procedures will be online’. It also said that it would make it ‘easier for citizens from non-EU countries with comparable road safety standards, to exchange their driving licence for an EU one’.

Overall, the EU’s proposal aims to ‘modernise driving licence rules’ with the introduction of a digital licence that would be valid throughout the EU, together with new provisions to ‘facilitate the enforcement of traffic rules across borders’. More than 20,000 lives were lost on EU roads last year and the majority of victims were pedestrians, cyclists and users of scooters and motorbikes, the EU said.

The EU Commission said that the new proposed rules would improve safety for all road users, and help the EU achieve its ‘Vision Zero’ – having no deaths on EU roads by 2050. They said the measures would prepare drivers better for zero-emission vehicles and for driving on city roads, alongside more bicycles and two-wheelers, and with many pedestrians around.

With the key objective of the new proposed rules being to improve road safety, the measures include:

  • A probation period of at least two years for novice drivers after passing the test, and a zero-tolerance rule on drink-driving. The EU said it is ‘essential as even if young drivers only represent 8% of all car drivers, 2 out of 5 fatal collisions involve a driver or rider aged under 30’.
  • Allowing young people to take their test and commence accompanied driving of cars and lorries from the age of 17, to gain driving experience – and to also help address the current driver shortage.
  • Adapting driver training and testing to better prepare drivers for the presence of vulnerable users on the road. This will help improve safety for pedestrians, cyclists, as well as users of e-scooters and e-bikes as the EU transitions to more sustainable urban mobility.
  • A more targeted assessment of medical fitnesstaking into account advances in medical treatment for diseases such as diabetes. Drivers will also be encouraged to update their driving skills and knowledge to keep up with technological developments.

Under the EU Commission’s proposal, drivers from countries it identifies as having high enough road safety standards would also ‘be able to exchange their licences for EU licences either without having to repeat training or testing, or by carrying this out based on uniform conditions throughout the EU’. For further details of the proposals, click here.

The proposals will now be considered by the European Parliament and the Council under the ordinary legislative procedure.

ALSO READ (28/9/22): ‘A lot going on behind the scenes’ says UK ambassador about driving licence negotiations.

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