A proposed new law aimed at cracking down on traffic laws infringements across the European Union also suggests slashing the minimum drive age to 17.
Under the proposed laws, any 17-year-olds who pass their driving test would be allowed to start driving, but only if they are accompanied by an adult who is also licenced to drive.
The minimum driving age in Malta is currently 18 (like in most EU member states) and there have been calls, including by shadow minister Adrian Delia, for the authorities to consider whether it should be raised to 21 to ease traffic congestion.
The main purpose of the new law is to crack down on traffic violations across Europe and introduce a digital driving licence that would be valid across the bloc.
Apart from allowing 17-year-old accompanied drivers on the road, the European Commission is proposing to make all new drivers subject to a two-year probation period, with a zero-tolerance approach to drink-driving.
The European Commission said more than 20,000 people were killed last year in traffic incidents on the European Union’s roads.
The new rules will give law enforcement access to national driving licence registers, which the Commission said would help identify offenders and ensure they pay their fines.
More than 40 per cent of cross-border traffic offences go unpunished, the EU Transport Commissioner Adina Valean said during a press conference in Brussels.
“Today’s proposal tackles that by improving cross-border cooperation. Those who drive dangerously must not be able to get away with it,” she added.
Under the new rules, if an individual is disqualified from driving in one country, they will be disqualified from driving across the EU.
The new digital driving licence would be recognised by all member states and would be the world’s “first”, the European Commission said in a statement.
But member states will still issue licences to their respective citizens.
The proposal “will make the small piece of plastic history”, Valean told reporters.
However, people could still request a physical version of their licence.
She also said the minimum age to take a driving test would now be 17, and those who pass can begin driving, but only if they are accompanied. The Commission’s proposals will go to the European Parliament and member states for their response.
Some of the proposals in the new law are:
- A probation period of at least two years for novice drivers after passing the test, and a zero-tolerance rule on drink-driving. This 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.
- 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 fitness, taking 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.
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The Commission’s proposals will go to the European Parliament and member states for their response.
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