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Call for an EU-wide zero alcohol limit for new and professional commercial drivers

The Transport Committee says there should be an EU-wide zero alcohol limit for new drivers and as well as for professional commercial vehicle or bus drivers involved in passenger transport, and, for example, the transport of hazardous goods.

This was one of a number of suggestions to improve road safety proposed by the Committee in reaction to the Commission's review of EU Road Safety Action Program. By adopting on Wednesday an own-initiative report by Ewa Hedkvist Petersen (PES, SE) on the mid-term review of the Road Safety Action Program, MEPs took the view that a zero alcohol limit was only one of the measures needed to try to reduce the 40 000 recorded road fatalities every year. "Much more still needs to be done if we are to achieve the Community's objective of halving the number of fatal accidents by 2010", said the rapporteur.

The Committee adopted a range of amendments seeking to improve road safety in all Member States. One of them called on the Commission to come up with a study on harmonizing road signs in Europe since unclear signs could cause unnecessary risks. Considering the large number of accidents and deaths where road works are taking place, MEPs in the committee propose common guidelines for safe road-work zones. MEPs also voted to call on the Member States to make the use of hands-free systems the only permissible way for car, bus and commercial drivers to use mobile telephones while at the wheel.

They also were in favor of an EU wide ban on overtaking for vehicles weighing more than 12 tons on one- and two-lane roads. On the other hand, the committee voted against amendments calling for the setting up of a European Road Safety Agency and the introduction of EU-wide speed limits. The report further calls on the Commission and Member States to evaluate awareness of the European emergency call number 112, which is still not available in all Member States. (EP Press)