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Content archived on 2024-06-25

Police enforcement policy and programmes on European roads

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Road safety, by accident or design?

Safe driving does not come naturally for most people, but with the right rules in place their behaviour in traffic can be changed. A best practice database on traffic law enforcement gives examples of different methods which can be used to reduce the frequency and severity of road accidents.

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A truck crossing the French-Belgian border can do so without stopping thanks to the common internal market. Still, for traffic safety reasons the driver is subject to rules related to the maximum driving hours. If the driver is stopped and appears to be behind the steering wheel for 24 hours in a row, he will face completely different sanctions on the two sides of the border. The willingness to increase the effectiveness of rules has not necessarily led to harmonisation of law enforcement across Europe. Moreover, this problem has gained weight with the accession of Central and Eastern European countries. The EU-funded Pepper project set out to unlock the shortcoming and possibilities of traffic safety rules and their enforcement in Europe – for both passenger and freight transport. To do so, the Pepper researchers tuned in to things that do not run effectively. But, they looked more closely at individual countries that have implemented a successful set of rules and regulations with complementary enforcement methods. Although a wide variety of solutions have been put in place and further measures are being developed, countries also seem willing to learn from each other. When it comes down to the adoption of standards in real life, however, a lot of constraints arise that have nothing to do with the road safety objectives. As part of the Pepper project, all the information gathered based on European Commission recommendations on traffic law enforcement were stored in a database. Known as Cleopatra, this database currently contains information from six European countries that are regarded as having a relatively high level of road safety - Germany, France, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The Cleopatra database, hosted on the European 'Traffic information system police' (Tispol) website, provides data related to speeding, drink driving and seat belt use. Access to this wealth of information is offered for free to all those who might benefit from it in their efforts to improve road safety in Europe. The information and knowledge accumulated through the Pepper project, and now available through Cleopatra, will provide decision makers not only with tools to implement conventional and innovative safety measures, but also with ways of prioritising different enforcement methods.

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