What's new in European Traffic Law?
By 2025, electronic air taxis should start at German airports.
The airports of Munich and Nuremberg, but also other airports could serve as junction. The plan is to build a better connection between the locations. The price level should be comparable to conventional means of transport.
The planner is the German start-up lilium. The jets should have space for seven passengers. They should start vertical and then fly horizontally up to 250 kilometres. The maximum speed level should be 280 kilometres per hour. The serial production of the jets should start in 2025. In the long term, the jets should be able to fly autonomously without a pilot.
Lilium is not the only company which has its focus on air-taxis. Also, the German manufacturer Volocopter or the University RWTH Aachen have already completed flight tests successfully. In addition, hydrogen air taxis are also planned, for example the Skai, developed by Alaka’i Technologies and BMW.
The new vehicles play an important plan in urban city planning. We have already reported about the plans of Paris to use air taxis at the Olympic games in 2024 and beyond that, set up an air transport network by 2030: (Link von der Homepage)
These developments could establish a new way of mobility in Europe. Further the ambitions of autonomous flying require a secure European digital infrastructure.
Higher fines for over speeding in Austria
To reduce the comparatively high number of traffic fatalities, the Austrian Minister of transport Gewessler has presented the new catalogue of fines for over speeding. Not only higher fees be considered, also the withdrawal of the driver’s license or the car. The new regulations should apply from this summer.
For most offenses, there are only entry fines, the decision on the amount of the fines is made by the authorities on a case-by-case basis. Specifically, this means that the maximum fine will increase from 2.180€ to 5.000€. In addition, the observation period for repeated violations of the speed limits doubles to four years.
The new rules for the withdrawal of the driver’s license will also become stricter. So far, the authorization for drivers has been withdrawn if the speed was exceeded 40 km/h in town and 50 km/h out of town. The limit values are to be lowered by 10 km/h: 30 km/h in town and 40 km/h out of town. Furthermore, the duration of withdrawal will be doubled from two to four weeks.
In addition to fines, the penalty for participating in illegal street races is also to be increased. The participating becomes a particularly dangerous crime. There is a risk of the driver’s license being withdrawn for at least six months and compulsory retraining and, in the event of repetition, a traffic psychological examination. There is also a threat of the car being confiscated. This is also possible in extreme cases when the driver was 80 km/h in town or 90 km/h out of town to fast.
The general speed limit in Austria for cars is 50km/h in town, 100 km/h out of town and 130 km/h on highways.
The EU driving licence and its validity
Since the foundation of the European Union (EU), the member states have been striving to achieve a convergence of their directives and laws. This also applies in the area of road traffic law. In the course of harmonisation the EU driving licence was created.
The legal basis is the third driving licence directive of the European Union. The directive intends to reduce the high number of different driving licence documents within the EU and helps the authorities to check the licence of foreign drivers without much effort.
In principal EU member states are obliged to recognise driving licences issued in other European countries. However, this principle does not apply to all EU licences. The authorities can also check retrospectively whether the licence is valid at all. It is e.g. invalid if the holder of the licence had not registered his main residence in the relevant country at the time of acquisition.
Furthermore the ECJ has declared a licence invalid if it was lawfully acquired in another EU country but was issued at a time when no driving licence should have been displayed domestically because of a final conviction. This was also recently the decision of the Administrative Court of Trier in Germany in a case in which a German citizen had his licence revoked for intentional drunk driving. Beyond that the Administrative authority declared not to issue a driving licence before the expiry of one year. Thereupon the plaintiff took his driving test in Luxembourg and started to drive on German roads again. The court ruled contrary to the view of the ECJ that the licence also does not become effective through the expiry of the suspension.
Despite harmonisation under EU law the validity of EU driving licences is limited by specific exceptions. Traffic offenders must take care not to drive during the ban period, otherwise they will be liable to prosecution.
Read more: https://www.bussgeldkatalog.org/eu-fuehrerschein/; https://vgtr.justiz.rlp.de/fileadmin/justiz/Gerichte/Fachgerichte/Verwaltungsgerichte/Trier/Dokumente/Entscheidungen/1_L_31_21_TR_Beschluss.pdf; https://lexetius.com/2008,1498
Challenges in the uptake of artificial intelligence in autonomous driving
Autonomous driving technologies will gain importance by new generations of cars in the next years. Although the new technologies correct previous human driving errors digitally, new safety risks arise with autonomous driving. In this context, the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) has published a report which deals with cybersecurity risks in connection to artificial intelligence in autonomous vehicles and provides recommendations for mitigating.
First there are challenges to the system that do not exist through human intervention. For example, the weather can make it difficult for the systems to capture the signs. In addition, malfunctions of the systems are possible. Further unintentional malfunctions, deliberate interventions can also endanger safety. Here it is possible, that the road surface is painted or stop signs are pasted, which can lead to an incorrect assessment of the road traffic situation.
It is therefore important, especially in the European context, to master these challenges. As EU Agency for Cybersecurity Executive Director Juhan Lepassaar said “when an insecure autonomous vehicle crosses the border of an EU Member State, so do its vulnerabilities. Security should not come as an afterthought, but should instead be a prerequisite for the trustworthy and reliable deployment of vehicles on Europe’s roads”.
To guarantee the highest possible level of security, the report makes recommendations for the implementation of autonomous driving. One is to carry out security controls over the entire life cycle. This should help to ensure, that the construction behaves correctly in unexpected situations. Another recommendation is to carry out continuous risk assessment processes supported by threat intelligence. This could enable the identification of potential artificial intelligence risks and emerging threats related to the uptake of artificial intelligence in autonomous driving.
In the end, it is not possible to be devoted to all dangers by autonomic driving, but also human behaviour is prone to error. The aim should be to ensure the highest possible level of security, also by crossing European borders.
You can read more and find the report at: https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/news/cybersecurity-challenges-uptake-artificial-intelligence-autonomous-driving
Exemptions under road transport law due to Covid-19
Based on the dynamically developing pandemic situation the Federal Office for Goods Transport in Germany has once again updated the relevant exemptions for the transport and haulage industry (current status: 8 March 2021). This includes, among other things, the law on driving personnel, road haulage, professional driver qualifications and hazardous goods. Some of these exemptions are also included in the new adopted Regulation (EU) 2021/267, which was published on 22 February 2021.
1. Driving personnel law
According to Article 23(1) of Regulation (EU) No 165/2014, tachographs normally shall be subject to periodic inspection every two years. The Federal Office for Good Transport has extended the deadline to the effect that the inspection which should have been carried out between 1 September 2020 and 30 June 2021 may now be realised no later than ten months after the date on which it would have been required.
2. Road haulage law
Another exception was regulated in the road haulage law. By way of derogation from Article 4(2) of Regulation (EC) No. 1072/2009 and Article 5 para. 7 of Regulation (EC) No. 1072/2009, the period of validity of Community licences and driver attestations which would otherwise have expired or would expire between 1 September 2020 and 30 June 2021 has been extended by ten months.
3. Professional driver qualification law
The deadlines for the completion of further training pursuant to Article 8(2) and (3)
of Directive 2003/59/EC are also extended by ten additional months if they would have expired or would expire between 1 September 2020 and 30 June 2021. Advanced education that are subject to the time limits in Art. 2 of Regulation (EU) 2020/698 shall be extended only by six months or until 1 July 2021, whichever is the later. However, the certificate of competency remains valid. The same applies to the registration of the code number 95 and the driver qualification card referred to in Article 10(1) of 1 and annex II of Directive 2003/59/EC.
4. Road traffic law
In order to ensure the delivery of goods, the exemption from the Sunday and public holiday driving ban is also extended by one month or until 30 June 2021. This applies in particular to the supply of corona vaccination centres with COVID-19 vaccines, cooling systems for the (intermediate) storage of corona vaccines and the vaccination equipment and necessary medical instruments. Excluded from this regulation are large and heavy goods transports.
5. Hazardous goods law
If training measures for dangerous goods drivers and dangerous goods safety advisers get cancelled training certificates cannot be renewed or extended. In this context, some EU member states have signed multilateral agreements (M333 and M334) by which the continued use of training certificates whose validity expires between 1 March 2020 and 1 September 2021 will be possible for a transitional period.
Ultimately, the newly issued regulations and agreements show how strongly the pandemic is affecting the road freight transport sector. A temporary halt to road freight transport to contain the coronavirus would be inappropriate. Instead, new regulations are necessary to maintain the availability of goods for the population and economy.
Report on the application of the Package Travel Directive (PTD)
On 26 February 2021 the European Commission has published a survey (COM 90 final) of the current status about the application of Directive (EU) 2015/2302 of the European Parliament and of the Council on package travel and linked travel arrangements. Already in June 2019 the Commission has published the click-through bookings report (COM270 final). In comparison, the new publication deals with the general application of the directive.
The aim here is to increase consumer awareness of their rights as a customer of a package tour. Although a majority of 81% trust the providers, many consumers are not aware of their rights. To clarify the importance of the branch, the report shows the main market data. In the next step issues by the transposition in the member states are explained.
Further the report treated with challenges of the application and enforcement. Then the insolvency protection is shown and its functionality in connection with Thomas Cook is explained. In the last step, the Commission draws a connection to the current COVID-19 pandemic and makes clear, that the situation constitutes “unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances”.
Below this report the commission wants to consider the current developments in connection with COVID-19 to check whether consumer protection is adequately safeguarded, and the risks are fairly distributed along the value chain. The next analysis is planned for 2022.
Link to the report: https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/law-topic/consumers/travel-and-timeshare-law/package-travel-directive_de
Paris will test its first flying taxis in June
At the Pontoise-Cormeilles-en-Vexin airfield a series of experiments with the VoloCity air taxi will be conducted to operate air taxis and drones in the French capital. Paris will offer two air connections in time for the Olympic Games in 2024. A fully functional air transport network will be established by 2030.
The VoloCity air taxi is an electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle, which was manufactured in Germany. Some of them run on hydrogen. It has a range of 35 kilometres and a top speed of 110 kilometres per hour. By using an air taxi a basically 40-minute journey by regular taxi or public transport will be shortened to 15 minutes. So far, it can carry one passenger in addition to the pilot. A trip by an air taxi will cost around 300 euros. To be more profitable, the number of seats will be increased from the current two to six. Once regulations and air traffic control systems have adapted to larger autonomous vehicles, the pilot's seat will also be released. Against this background, the air taxi not only saves time, it is also more environmentally friendly than normal taxis.
Out of 150 applications, 31 companies from all over the world which are specialized in vehicle development, transport infrastructure and air operations will become part of the new ecosystem. Some of the participants are Volocopter (German), Airbus, Ehang (Chinese) and Pipistrel (Slovenian).
Ultimately, air taxis contribute to a new form of mobility in Europe. Due to this new innovation the mobility sector might boom in the next few years. Only the price could be an obstacle. If it remains this high, passengers probably stick to regular taxis or other given transport options.
Increased additional fee in Hungary violates German ordre public
The decision from 4.2.2021 by the regional court in Munich (31 S 10 317/20) was rendered in a dispute over additional fees for unpaid road tolls. The Hungarian regulations provide, that users of the highways must buy a vignette. If they have not done it, they must pay a top-up fee which is five times higher than the basic price. When there is no payment within 60 days, an increased additional fee is owed. This one is again four times higher than the top-up fee. The appeal court only has to check the last fee for its legitimacy.
It was initially unproblematic that the defendant only rented the car and did not drive it itself. The court in Nürnberg-Fürth has already ruled at 30.7.2019, that owner liability does not violate the ordre public (16 S 9176/18). A violation of domestic basic principles fails because German civil law also includes owner liability.
In the second point, that the court had to determine was according to which regulation the applicable law is to be assessed. It firmly decided that contrary to the plaintiff’s opinion, there was no contractual relationship between claimant and the vehicle rental company. The driver did not act on behalf of the defendant and the fact that the rental car company has not done anything to prevent a further journey after the first payment requests have been received does not establish a contractual relationship. As a result, the Rom II regulation is applicable.
Within this the question arose whether there is a violation of Art. 26. This is the case with claims for damages if they go much further than necessary to adequately compensate the injured person or obviously serve purposes other than adequate compensation for the injured person. The German court arguments that there is a violation of Art. 26 Rom II regulation. By that the increased additional fee is four times higher than the top-up fee, which itself is just as five times higher than the basic charge, no connection to the actual damage can be identified. According to this line of reasoning, the additional fee is not enforceable at a German court.
The judgment is not yet final and can still be reviewed by the German high court.
2021: Renaissance of the railway in Europe?
After environmental associations and the EU Commissioner for Transport, Adina Vălean, called for the strengthening of European rail transport, the European Commission subsequently designated 2021 as the European Year of Rail. This year aims to modernise the rail transport in Europe and support the European Green Deal in the field of mobility.
Due to the lack of focus on rail transport this sector has lost importance over the past decades. As a consequence there still does not exist an unified European railway system. Hence many environmental organisations are calling on the EU and national governments to improve European rail services through new direct connections with day and night trains, more attractive and convenient international rail bookings and investment in cross-border infrastructure.
Moreover, the modernisation could help to achieve the EU's target of becoming climate neutral by 2050. Around 25 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union are caused by transport. Therefore events, campaigns and initiatives will be used to raise public awareness that the rail sector is sustainable, innovative and safe. Since 1990 rail is the only mode of transport that has been able to reduce its CO2 emissions almost continuously, while at the same time transport volumes have increased.
Ultimately, a better European rail system could connect people and economies in Europe, reduce transport emissions by providing alternatives to road and air transport, and give a green boost to the European economy after Covid-19. Against this background, it is obvious that rail transport will play an important role in the European mobility system of the future. This already shows the recent merger of Alstom and Bombardier which creates the world's second-largest railway manufacturer behind the Chinese group CRRC, which bought 2019/2020 locomotive manufacturing in Germany from Vossloh AG in order to enter the German market.
Read more: https://www.germanwatch.org/sites/germanwatch.org/files/Hop%20on%20the%20Train.%20A%20Rail%20Renaissance%20for%20Europe_0.pdf
Travel restrictions in the pandemic
Travel restrictions in the pandemic
The changes caused by the corona pandemic affect many areas of life. Difficulties arise here especially by traveling. To offer as much freedom of movement as possible, the EU-States have agreed on a uniform procedure.
Therefore, the risk within the regions is determined by common criteria. The areas are divided into the colours green, orange, red, dark red and grey. On this basis the member states can take appropriate measures. These differs in individual case, so it is worth checking the legal situation before entering the country. You can find information on entering the EU countries from the following overview:
There is no common European corona tracking app.
On https://ec.europa.eu/info/live-work-travel-eu/coronavirus-response/travel-during-coronavirus-pandemic-0/mobile-contact-tracing-apps-eu-member-states_en is a list with the national corona tracking apps.
For travellers from third countries there are also travel restrictions. The commission recommends lifting of restrictions for Australia, New Zeeland, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and China (in case of mutuality). Further residents of Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and Vatican has to be handled like EU-citizens.
During the corona pandemic the mobility in Europe and the world is highly limited. Therefore it makes sense to find out about the travel conditions on the official homepages before travelling.
France discontinues interlane traffic experiment
In France, the test phase for motorbike lapping in 11 French departments ended on January 31, 2021 and will not be extended again. The reason for this is an excessively high accident rate. Since February 1st the motorcycle lane is banned throughout France.
It was a long-lasting experiment. About five years motorcyclists with a two-wheeled motorbike (L3e) or a three-wheeled scooter (L5e) were – contrary to the road traffic regulations - allowed to drive between queues on motorways or two-lane roads, if they keep sufficient distance, do not exceed 50 km/h and also do not overtake other drivers. The aims of this experiment were to create a legal framework for a practice that is widespread in urban areas and consequently reduce accidents involving powered two-wheelers. Therefore, the French government initially tolerated interline traffic in the eight departments of Île-de-France, Bouches-du-Rhône, Gironde and Rhône.
Based on the CEREMA (Centre for Studies and Expertise on Risks, Environment, Mobility and Planning) evaluation report, there is no longer any entitlement to practice motorbike lapping in the test departments. Even though the experiment had positive effects on behaviour, compliance with the rules remained in the minority. Indeed, the report reveals that the accident rate of powered two-wheelers has increased by 12% on the roads where intermediate traffic has been experimented, while it has decreased by 10% on the other roads of the concerned departments. This increase has stabilised over the years. Moreover, the deaths that occurred within the framework of the project were mostly due to the disregard of the rules of the experiment.
Even if the road safety delegation acknowledges that the data is difficult to analyse because the circumstances of accidents are not always known precisely, the conclusions of the CEREMA report do not allow the integration of inter-lane traffic into the road traffic regulations. A violation of the prohibition can be sanctioned with a fine of 135 euro and a withdrawal of three points on the driving licence.
Nevertheless, the road safety delegation does not completely omit from this practice. Rather, it is considering a new experiment with new elements that could be included to continue this practice in complete safety.
Ultimately, the ban is a drastic measure with regard to the customs of motorcyclists. It remains to be seen, if this prohibition will reduce the accident rate again. Due to the widespread practice, it seems doubtful that those who are affected will refrain from it. Instead, they might be tempted to drive illegally through the lanes.
Read more: https://www.securite-routiere.gouv.fr/actualites/circulation-inter-files-bilan-de-lexperimentation
The Netherlands issues new catalogue of fines 2021
Motorists should drive adapted in the Netherlands. The reason for this is i.a. the new catalogue of fines 2021, which provides higher fines for traffic offenders.
The new catalogue confirms that the overall penalty rates in the Netherlands are significantly higher than in other European Member States. Thus, it specifies that for parking and stopping offences, a fine of 100 euros (previously 95) must be paid if the offence is punished by the police. For penalties imposed by the municipality a fine of 60 euros (previously 50) will be ordered. Red light violations will be reproved with 250 euro (before 240). The same applies to driving over solid lanes and phone calls at the wheel without a hands-free device.
Increases were also made for speeding offences. Traffic offenders will be fined upwards of 30 euros, if they exceed the speed limit of 5 km/h in towns, out of towns and on motorways. Transgressing the speed limit by more than 30 km/h they will even be reported to the police.
Moreover, the authorities will impose sanctions for late payment. If the fine is not paid despite being due, the amount will increase by half due to the first delay and by double due to the second one.
Even if the catalogue of fines has not changed seriously, the accruing amounts might deter road users from committing offences and encourage them to behave in accordance with the regulations. Citizens of other European Member States should be aware of the fact, that the penalty can also be enforced in their home state.
Obligation in France to inform about the blind spot
Since January 1st this year, vehicles with a total weight from 3.5 tons have to be fitted a sign which informs about the blind spot. A violation will result in a fourth class fine of minimum 135€, in the worst case even 750€.
Just as domestic cars, drivers of vehicles registered abroad who only use French roads for their transit must comply with the labelling requirement. Only agricultural and forestry vehicles as well as winter service vehicles and service vehicles on motorways and expressways are exempt from the obligation. That means despite efforts by the French motorhome associations, larger motorhomes must also confirm with this regulation.
It is expected that the sticker is fixed in a high between 0.9 and 1.5 meters. In addition, they must be placed in such a way that the visibility of the truck license plate, the lighting and the signalling devices and the driver’s field of vision are not impaired. There is the possibility to buy a legally complaint sign at the French Association of International Road Transport (AFTRI).
The regulation does not provide for an exception for vehicles which have already a mark. Only in a transition period of 12 months there will be no punishment for the drivers of vehicles with a comparable labelling.
This new requirement is intended to improve the mobility for other traffic members. Especially the danger from veering truck for pedestrians and cyclists should be lowered. Through the sign other traffic members should be more sensitized for this danger, so that they will stay in the save zone.
In Germany is also a new regulation to promote a higher traffic security. The bonus for scrapped trucks is tied to the installation of a turning assistant. The turning assistant recognize a danger and informs the driver or automatically brakes the truck. Currently there is no mandatory introduction of the turning assistant.
Regulation Art. R313-32-1 Code de la Route,
Article R313-32-1 - Code de la route - Légifrance (legifran