Road Transport Law Enforcement: Working Towards Safer Road Transport?

Road Transport Law Enforcement: Working Towards Safer Road Transport?


Robbert Lunsingh Scheurleer, NEA Transport Research and Training. NL


The paper will present recommendations for improved enforcement measures for the enforcement of the European Road Transport Acquis.


The paper will take into account the outcomes of a study that is currently taking place on the enforcement of the Road Transport Acquis. The general aim of this study is to identify the different enforcement authorities for road transport in each member state and to establish the extent and scope of cooperation and coordination between these different enforcement bodies both on a national and international level. The study also takes into consideration how these authorities organize the training of their staff.

Since road transport is an important economic activity in the EU market and freight flows are increasing, particularly within new Member States, there is a tension between the short term interests of road haulage companies in a very competitive market and the ambitions for road transport safety. The fundamental challenge is to balance the (economic) interests of the sector against the importance of road safety. This balance is presently too much driven by competition, often at the cost of safety. This is proven by a consistent non-compliance with fundamental rules for weights, driver?s hours etc and the reluctance of operators to invest in safety equipment and training.

In February 2006, the European parliament accepted a new directive for road transport. This new directive regulates the rest and driving times for road transport and proposes a harmonization of the control and enforcement activities. The directive also aims for doubling the number of checks in relation to rest and driving times and the tripling of these checks by 2010. It is obvious that this legislation puts a burden on the enforcement bodies which are already faced with limited resources in terms of financing and staffing.

The paper will bring to light the extent and scope of national and international cooperation in the field of transport law enforcement. The multitude of bodies involved in the enforcement of the road transport legislation leads to a diffuse situation in which a variety of bodies all have their own reasons for checking compliance with the rules in place if it is checked at all. The lack of transparency in the competences of the enforcement agencies leads to a lack of coordination of checks and difference in the range and extent of these checks.

Although one might expect that most enforcement bodies cooperate on at least a national level, the practice is unfortunately that there is little cooperation and communication between the various enforcement authorities such as police, transport inspectorates, labor inspectorates and customs officers. Since transport is more and more an international activity, more international cooperation and coordination is necessary. First steps in this direction are taken, but international cooperation is still in a rather early stage. Joint inspection take place sporadically and joint training programs are organized on a yearly basis but are more dependent on personal relationships then on institutionalized procedures.

The paper will propose a number of measures for improvement of both national and international cooperation, and will make recommendations for the development of a uniform training approach in order to ensure uniform enforcement of the road transport acquis as is foreseen by the new directive which was accepted by the European Parliament in February 2006.


Association for European Transport