The Daily Mail's flip-flops over EU driving standards

Martin Belam  by Martin Belam, 5 December 2006

Yesterday's anti-EU rant disguised as news in the Daily Mail was aimed at the proposal for common standards across the community for driving licences, which might require drivers to be periodically re-evaluated for medical conditions that might affect their driving, and renew their licence every ten years.

The thing that perplexed me was that three years ago, when the Mail was reporting EU activity in this area, the tone was almost on the verge of positive, well, as positive as the Mail ever gets about Europe:

About 60% of the EU population - about 200 million people - hold a valid driving licence, many of them using cars from cross-border trips between EU countries.

Harmonising the driving licence will benefit motorists because individual countries could no longer apply differing restrictions on non-national licence holders.

Even more recently, less than two months ago in fact, the paper was adamant that driving standards across Europe needed raising - and specifically that indefinite driving licence's belonging to the Polish were a safety hazard in the UK.

There are also fears of corruption in EU countries such as Poland and the Czech Republic, whose licences are now considered equivalent to those in the UK and can be used here indefinitely.

Earlier this month, Polish bus driver Robert Botur was jailed for two years after causing the death of a female passenger six weeks after his arrival in the UK. He was driving on the wrong side of the road and hit an oncoming car.

Fortunately, as we know, no British driver would ever get involved in a road accident abroad, nor has anyone ever been able to successfully manufacture a fake British driving licence. That, of course, means that the question of whether it is dangerous for Poland to be equally accepting of an ever-lasting licence valid for driving on the opposite side of the road doesn't even need to be raised.

The icing on the cake for me was the 'revelation' late on in yesterdays Daily Mail article that contrary to this being a new imposition from the EU, since British driving licences began being issued which carry a photograph of the driver, they have to be replaced every ten years already. And surely, whoever proposes it, checking the medical ability of drivers to be able to drive safely has to be a common sense measure?

Mind you, one sarcastic comment on the Daily Mail article online yesterday did at least raise a wry smile from me:

They should start at home. Have you seen the way those Belgians drive and not even on the correct side of the road!
- Mike, Coventry

3 Comments

Your recent debunking of Daily Mail hysteria is all well and worthy, but what's with your tabloid obsession?

Surely most of your readers already *know* just how prejudiced these papers can be?

Is this my cue to flounce out of the room show-biz style wailing that "I write my blog for myself, and if anyone else reads it that's just a bonus" ;-)

>> Surely most of your readers already *know* just how prejudiced these papers can be?

But maybe not the all ones who arrive via Google?

I think what has set me off recently is the fact that once The Sun opened their online archives up for free, and both the Mail and The Sun improved their search, it is much, much easier to expose them in their own words publishing sensationalist and contradictory nonsense.

Ignore Frankie. I love the tabloid posts because I get to quote Daily Mail nonsense to my friends without going to the trouble of actually reading it!

Keep up to date on my new blog