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Denmark: New Traffic Safety Measures, “Secret” Parking Rules

(Oct. 4, 2010) On October 1, 2010, new traffic safety legislation takes effect in Denmark that will enable the police to immediately revoke the licenses of motorists traveling at speeds of more than 100 kilometers per hour (kmh) (about 60 miles per hour) in zones marked 50 kmh or less and in construction zones. According to the Federation of Danish Motorists, driving over 200 kmh on any Danish roadway will also incur revocation of the driver's license. The new measure is “the first toughening of traffic laws to take effect as [the] result of [an] initiative passed this spring by the government and aimed at cracking down on speeders and drink driving.” (Crackdown on Speeders Begins, THE COPENHAGEN POST (Sept. 30, 2010),
[copy on file with author].)

It was also reported, in August, that Danish drivers had lodged protests against a ruling by the Copenhagen parking authority that, in defiance of a ruling that traffic wardens must explain their grounds for issuance of parking tickets, large sections of the city's traffic rules were secret. Based on the motorists' complaints, the Danish Broadcasting Corporation obtained from the authorities a 110-page document on procedures for traffic wardens, including how and when they should issue tickets. However, “key sections of the guidance, including the pages concerning the rules setting out the circumstances for issuing tickets, had been blanked out by the Copenhagen parking authority.” (Bruno Waterfield, Danish Drivers Stumped by Secret Rules, TELEGRAPH (Aug. 6, 2010),

To justify the secrecy, traffic wardens said they feared drivers might disrespect the traffic law if they became aware of the information. The parking authority, for its part, maintained that it wanted to prevent wardens from becoming enmeshed with motorists in long or semantic arguments over the regulations' small print; it also claimed the parking regulations were “exempt” from freedom of information laws as a necessary protection for implementing public control. The “secret” rules may cover such matters as recommended observation times for the wardens and advice on how to judge when to issue a ticket. Hans Gammeltoft Hansen, Denmark's parliamentary ombudsman, has stated that the rules “did not justify secrecy,” but the parking authority has reportedly ignored his ruling. (Id.)