Notification from the Commission on Finnish legislation on lightweight vehicles
On 1 August 2019, the Commission of the European Union notified Finland of the Finnish legal provisions on lightweight vehicles. The Finnish provisions are meant to enter into force in the beginning of November.
The contents of the notification issued by the Commission in the beginning of August are largely the same as in the notification sent to Finland already at the stage when the Act on light vehicles was being prepared. According to the notification, the proposed legislative amendments do not meet the requirements in the Union legislation, particularly in terms of driving licences.
It is the Commission's view that the definition of an agricultural or a forestry tractor in the EU Directive on driving licences cannot be directly applied to light vehicles. Instead, the applicable definition would be the one of a motor vehicle. That is why, according to the Commission, the requirement of a moped driving licence (driving licence category AM) and the age limit of 15 years cannot be nationally applied to light vehicles.
The Commission states that according to the driving licence Directive, the licence for a moped car entitles to drive light quadricycles for which limitations on their mass and design speed are set out in the EU legislation. The lightweight vehicles as specified in the Finnish legislation would exceed the limits of the Directive, and so a holder of a moped car licence would not be entitled to drive a lightweight car.
Other concerns raised in the Commission's notification are road safety, possible environmental problems and distortion of the market.
The notification says that driving of lightweight vehicles by 15-year-old adolescent holders of moped car licences may lead to serious safety issues for vulnerable road users, such as small children, pedestrians, cyclists and animals.
In addition, the fact that the speed limitation of lightweight vehicles will be carried out by means of an electronic device is stated to be an uncertain solution in terms of both road safety and exhaust emissions.
The acts on lightweight vehicles were approved by the President of the Republic on 18 January 2019. The acts as well as the decrees and regulations being prepared are scheduled to enter into force on 1 November 2019. The Commission's notification does not prevent the entry into force of the act, but if the contents of the notification are not taken into consideration, it may give rise to infringement procedures by the Commission.
The provisions on lightweight vehicles would allow a 15-year-old holder of a moped car licence (AM 121) to drive a lightweight vehicle of category T with speed limitation of 60 km/h and modified from a passenger car. The aim is to improve the traffic safety of especially young people.
Sini Wirén, Director of Unit, tel. +358 40 507 0916, Twitter @WirenSini