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Drivers warned of 'avalanche' of fines – Councils get new powers to target motorists today

From today, local authorities in England outside of London will be able to apply to the Secretary of State for new powers to enforce “moving traffic offences”.  This means they can be granted powers that have previously been held only by the police and will be able to issue fines to drivers for these offences for the first time.

Offences covered by the new enforcement include driving into a bus lane, stopping in a yellow box junction, banned right or left turns, illegal U-turns and going the wrong way in a one-way street.

Currently, in England, moving traffic offences are enforceable only by the police.

The one exception is in London where TfL and London borough councils already have “civil enforcement” powers.

In London, these offences have therefore effectively been decriminalised and are treated as civil “contraventions”.

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The AA warns that, although the Government has ordered councils to issue first-time warning letters for the first six months of a new location being enforced, such are the systemic failings revealed in London that drivers need better long-term protection. 

Those failings include London enforcers not understanding the rules that govern the enforcement of yellow box junctions.

AA data shows that councils in London have continued to fine drivers even though successful appeals have shown moving traffic enforcement at some locations to be unfair for purpose.

Edmund King, AA president, said: “Although the AA accepts that enforcement of moving traffic offences is necessary to maintain the efficiency of the road network and keep streets safe, the experience and evidence of how badly that enforcement has often worked in London is a major worry.

“When traffic tribunal adjudicators’ reports have revealed that the people behind the cameras sometimes don’t even know the rules that govern how a yellow box junction works, that is a red flag for what might happen as moving traffic enforcement spreads across England and Wales.

“This lack of quality control of enforcement is made worse by an appeals system that is individualised: the council, the adjudicator and the complainant all know there is a problem with enforcement at a location, but nobody else does.”

Data from the RAC found that 57 percent of drivers are generally in favour of yellow box junctions being enforced.

Earlier this year, Nicholas Lyes, RAC head of roads policy, warned drivers they may face a wave of fines if the changes are introduced without proper guidance.

He said: “In the absence of definitive guidance on the design, maintenance and enforcement of box junctions there will be a high degree of confusion among drivers and local authorities which could lead to an avalanche of penalty charge notices being wrongly issued and then having to be appealed. 

“This will inevitably lead to an unnecessarily high number of appeals for local authorities to review, as well as some poor outcomes for drivers.

“We have written to the Department for Transport asking them to update the guidance to make it clear to local authorities what the minimum standard for design and condition of a box junction should be before letting enforcement begin, but they are adamant the present guidance is sufficient.

“It’s absolutely crucial that yellow box junctions are enforced fairly and, as things stand, this may not be the case which will mean many drivers will be treated poorly and lose out financially as a result.”



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