Assisted driving – a viable solution for increasing road safety in Romania

Road accidents have an estimate of 1,35 million victims yearly and the number of injured is of tens of millions, according to a report from the World Health Organization. Car accidents are the first cause of death for young people with the ages of 15 to 29, also shown in the WHO report. The consequences of these dramatic events are social and economic at a micro-level (for victims and the family) as well as at a macro-level (for the state). In the European space, socio-economic costs generated by road accidents are up to 120 billion euros yearly.

These statistics determined numerous Member States of the EU to identify solutions for lowering the number of deaths caused by road accidents. In 2017, states such as Sweden (25 deaths to 1 million people), UK (27 deaths to 1 million people), the Netherlands (31 deaths to 1 million people) and Denmark (32 deaths to 1 million people) registered remarkable progress in this sense. On the other hand, Romania was number 1 for mortality rate on the basis of road accidents, having 98 deaths to 1 million people in 2017 – double of the European standard. According to the National Strategy for Road Safety, for the time period of 2016-2020, “the most vulnerable age, from the perspective of deaths and harshly injured patients is the youth, with ages between 19 and 30.”

Measures for improvement of the current situation

One of the identified measures by previously mentioned states was assisted driving. Young people who are not yet 18 years old could drive on public roads joined by a driver with experience. I have studied and adapted these models and will propose such a measure for Romania. 

Today I am launching a debate about a legislative proposal that would be modified by the Emergency Ordinance of the Government nr. 195/2002 regarding driving on public roads, republished. Through this modification, young people over 16 years old will be able to drive on public roads under certain conditions. The process of obtaining a driver’s license in the case of these young people will have repercussions as well as changes for a more efficient integration of this assisted driving program.

At the moment, a person can obtain their driver’s license (and implicitly be able to drive on public roads) only after turning 18 years old. According to the new modification, young people would be able to do that from when they are 16 years old for cars of B category.

The procedure they would have to follow is the following:

  • Enrolling at a driver’s school – assisted driving cannot take place without such a schooling program made with an official institution
  • A theoretical course of minimum 24 hours of road legislation would follow (similar to the one included in the current plan for driver’s school) and of a 20 hour requirement of driving with an attested driving instructor, 15 hours of this will be on public roads
  • Testing the accumulated knowledge and the obtaining of an assisted driving certificate on which the name of the assistant will be written
  • During the assisted driving period, on the windshield and the scope of the car there will be a distinctive sign of a beginner driver
  • The candidate can obtain a driver’s license after 2000 km driven during the day and in diverse meteorological conditions, following a theoretical re-evaluation and a practical test sustained in a special polygon not sooner than turning 18 years old. The hours driven will be registered by the student with the designated assistant in accord with the driving school

The assistant must:

  • Have a driver’s license for at least 5 years
  • Not have had their driver’s license suspended in the past 6 months or more than twice in the period they have had it
  • Not have had their driver’s license canceled in the past 10 years
  • To be at least 30 years old
  • To assist at least 3 of the 20 hours of driving with the auto instructor

As previously mentioned, the name of the assistant will be on the assisted driving certificate and its modification will only be made with the agreement of the driving school where the student is registered.

The model of countries such as France, Austria or UK demonstrated that this measure has a significant impact in reducing accidents for beginners. The purpose of this proposal is that when young people get their driver’s license they will already have accumulated experience as well as an appropriate conduct when driving. That way, a series of accidents can be avoided and young drivers will be safer on the road.

As always, I consider it very important for everyone to be involved, especially if the people facing the topic can have significant contributions. That is why I am waiting for suggestions or proposals alongside arguments regarding this initiative on the email address until September 7th, 2019. 

Read the reasoning and proposed modifications here