Transport Committee Contents

Conclusions and recommendations


1.As the number of traffic police has fallen, so too has the number of road traffic offences detected. However, the number of “causing death” offences, which will always be recorded where they occur, has not fallen. This is significant as this suggests that the reduction in overall offences that are recorded does not represent a reduction in offences actually being committed. (Paragraph 17)

2.Engineering and education must be backed up by effective enforcement with road users knowing that infringements will be detected. We recommend that the Government aim to tackle the overall number of offences committed by taking measures to support police forces in maintaining the number of specialist road traffic officers. By use of specialist officers, and appropriate use of technology, enforcement can be used alongside education which can make road users aware that serious driving offences will be detected. (Paragraph 18)


3.If enforcement is going to be effective as the number of dedicated road policing officers continues to fall, the use of technology is essential. Speed cameras are an important and effective part of the technology toolkit. However, the deployment of speed cameras needs to be done in an evidence-based way that achieves better road safety. Average speed cameras can contribute to overall speed limit compliance, and reduce the impression that motorists are unfairly caught out by speed cameras. (Paragraph 29)

4.Further deployment of average speed cameras (ASC), which are generally better received by motorists than traditional fixed speed cameras, should be considered. Existing ASC schemes should be assessed for their long-term effectiveness and, based on this, Highways England should develop best practice for their deployment. (Paragraph 29)

5.In pursuing any aim to improve speed limit compliance, speed camera placement must relate to safety rather than revenue, and be sited in such a way that aims to reduce casualties. (Paragraph 30)

6.We recommend that the Government monitor the placement of speed cameras by local authorities to ensure that this is the case. Where revenue is taken from speed camera enforcement, the funding arrangements must be transparent and the revenue put back into road safety grants rather than kept by local authorities or the Treasury. (Paragraph 30)

7.It is too early to determine the impact of increasing the national speed limit for HGVs to 60 mph. While the rate of accidents involving HGVs is lower than the rate of accidents involving other vehicles, it is more likely for any accident involving an HGV to be fatal. The Government should therefore monitor the impact of this speed limit change carefully, and make future changes if there is a negative effect on road safety. (Paragraph 33)

8.Exceeding the speed limit is a contributory factor in 16% of fatal collisions. The proportion of vehicles exceeding speed limits is decreasing, though the current number is still too great. (Paragraph 34)

9.We recommend that the Government, in considering how to reduce road casualties, identify where drivers are exceeding the speed limit in particularly dangerous areas. Support should be given to police force areas in deploying specialist roads police officers in those locations, and also in deploying educational campaigns to make road users aware that enforcement is underway. (Paragraph 34)


10.We recommend that information on whether a driver or rider has been drinking alcohol but is not over the legal alcohol limit is incorporated into non-fatal post-collision data collection and is published. By incorporating this level of detail into the existing STATS19 post-collision data collection, in which “Driver/Rider impaired by alcohol” already exists, the costs of implementing this can be kept to a minimum. Producing this data would have the benefit of assessing the impact of drivers and riders who are impaired by alcohol but have remained within the legal limit, and this can be used to inform future policy decisions. (Paragraph 40)

11.As the Government and the police are in agreement that it is safest that people do not drink at all if they are going to drive, we recommend that the Government assess the experiences of other countries that have lowered their legal blood alcohol limit, particularly Scotland. (Paragraph 41)

Seat belts

12.The proportion of road traffic fatalities not wearing a seatbelt is a concern. This is an area where enforcement cannot be easily implemented by external technology. According to Department for Transport surveys, the proportion of drivers using seat belts is very high and amongst passengers reasonably so. We recognise that legislating for any mandatory in-car technology requires assurances that it would not interfere with normal, legal use of the car, that the existing exemptions (to the law) are replicated in the technology, and that unjust costs will not be passed to consumers. (Paragraph 45)

13.For this reason, we do not recommend that the Government pursue any form of mandatory seat belt interlock legislation. Instead, we recommend that a new education campaign be used to reduce the number of road traffic fatalities not wearing a seat belt. (Paragraph 45)

Mobile phones

14.The proportion of drivers detected using hand-held mobile phones while driving has remained relatively constant since 2002. The changes to penalties proposed in the Government’s road safety statement are welcome and may have a beneficial effect, but they do not address the difficulties with detection. This is an area in which future technology may be used to fill the gap left by a reduction in specialised road traffic officers. In addition, the use of hands-free mobile phones presents a problem of distracted drivers, which should be addressed. (Paragraph 50)

15.We recommend that the Department fund research into the development and effective deployment of technology to detect illegal mobile phone use while driving. (Paragraph 50)

Vulnerable road users

16.The vulnerability of cyclists provides a particular road enforcement challenge. A “near miss” involving a cyclist can be close to a fatal accident, and “near miss” reports involving cyclists should be considered in that light. It is clear that there is a problem with the actual and subjective safety of the roads for cyclists, as well as the perception of the likely result of reporting offences to the police. The level to which cyclists feel unsafe on the roads due to a perceived failure to enforce traffic law is at odds with the Government’s aim to promote cycling, and must be addressed. (Paragraph 55)

17.We recommend that the Government’s strategy should not only promote cycle use, but must do so whilst reducing the proportion of people who consider that it is too dangerous for them to cycle on the roads. (Paragraph 56)

18.There appears to be substantial feeling that collisions or near misses involving cyclists are sometimes not effectively handled. More generally, there is great variation between police forces in how a road user is able to report near misses, and the development of best practice would be of benefit to all road users. (Paragraph 57)

19.We recommend that the Home Office commission research on how collisions or near misses are handled by the police, particularly how this varies between each force area, and how this impacts the proportion of people who believe it is too dangerous to cycle on the roads. (Paragraph 57)

20.We recommend that the Department for Transport assess the impact of Transport for London’s Safer Lorry Scheme and, if it is found to have reduced cyclist and pedestrian casualties in London the Government should press the issue in the European Union to make the requirements mandatory for HGVs across the EU. (Paragraph 61)

21.There have been calls from campaign groups to restrict the hours during which HGVs can use the streets in central London, in order to reduce congestion and the risk that these vehicles pose, especially to vulnerable road users. We recommend the Department for Transport evaluate the effect of such policies on the safety of vulnerable road users and on road haulage operators to see if a package of measures can be devised to balance the needs of these two groups. (Paragraph 62)

Fixed penalty notices

22.The police must have the power to enforce the law effectively against careless and inconsiderate drivers. The Fixed Penalty regime ensures that this takes place. However, it is important to secure the confidence of drivers that all are treated fairly and that enforcement is not merely a matter of ‘bad luck’. This underlines the need for visible specialist road traffic officers who can make informed decisions at the scene about whether an action was careless or inconsiderate, and secure public confidence that such a decision is not being made lightly or capriciously. There is a danger that if specialist road traffic officer numbers fall too far, FPNs for careless and inconsiderate driving may become very rare, and this public confidence may be lost as it appears that an offence being detected becomes the result of bad luck. We therefore recommend that police be supported to maintain the number of specialist road traffic officers. (Paragraph 66)

23.We note the proposals to increase the fixed penalty fine and penalty points for use of a hand held mobile phone while driving. It is vital that penalties represent an actual deterrent and are a true reflection of the danger posed by these offences. The Government’s acknowledgement that the level of fines for this offence is not a deterrent indicates that other penalties, which are lower than the proposed new fines, should be examined. (Paragraph 70)

24.We recommend that the Government assess the deterrent value of other fixed penalty notice fines and point endorsements. In addition, we recommend that the Government conduct an immediate review into the penalties for motoring offences committed while driving an HGV, to evaluate whether the current levels are effective. (Paragraph 70)

Diversionary courses

25.We are concerned by the inconsistent application of diversionary courses across the country. The NSAC is available almost universally, but other courses are growing in their use, and a situation may arise where the same driver, driving in the same manner, would face different treatment in different force areas. If these courses are to be effective methods for deterrence and rehabilitation of offenders, it is important that their use be consistent. (Paragraph 78)

26.We recommend that, for as long as research continues to support the efficacy of diversionary courses, each course is made available nationwide, with the Government encouraging police forces to make use of all courses for which there is evidence to demonstrate their effectiveness. (Paragraph 78)

27.Every method of dealing with offences available to the police must be supported by evidence that demonstrates that the method is just and will discourage future offending. At present, courses are offered in lieu of a fine and points endorsed on an offender’s licence, with the fee for the course meaning that the points are the main part of the penalty that an offender avoids. (Paragraph 79)

28.We recommend that research should be undertaken to assess whether use of a course alone produces the required deterrent effect. (Paragraph 79)

29.There are clearly concerns about the transparency of the operation and funding of diversionary courses, reinforced by the variations in fees between force areas and the profits earned by providers. (Paragraph 80)

30.We therefore recommend that after March 2016, the Government urges the Road Safety Trust and its subsidiary UKROEd to undertake a review to ensure that the development, quality and financial character, including the consequences for insurance premiums, of such courses is transparent and publicised. We further recommend that the costs for diversionary courses should be standardised nationwide unless there is a clear and convincing reason not to do so, and that the Government consider legislating to ensure that this is the case, so that the public can be confident in the transparency of these courses. (Paragraph 80)

Freight enforcement

31.The DVSA’s activity demonstrates that technology can be used to make intelligent targeting decisions with limited resources. The high level of prosecutions relative to vehicles stopped by the Industrial HGV Task Force—the precursor to the London Freight Enforcement partnership—is a good example of how successful joint intelligence-led operations can be. This is demonstrated by this partnership maintaining information on which operators are more likely to have defects, and then targeting them alongside random checks on the roads of London. (Paragraph 85)

32.More needs to be done to reduce the prohibitions issued to non-GB vehicles in particular, and intelligent targeting of operators that are known, or suspected, to be non-compliant can achieve this. There is also a place for random checks, and DVSA must not let these slide. (Paragraph 86)

33.We recommend that the Government assess the impact of intelligence sharing and joint working in London and the South East, and ensure that it is possible for information and technology to be used effectively by the DVSA across the country in order to improve compliance. (Paragraph 86)

The EU cross-border enforcement directive

34.We see the benefit in the intended purpose of the directive, as non-resident offenders must be enforced against. The laws of the UK relate to the actual driver of the vehicle, whereas the Directive as it stands only shares the vehicle’s registered keeper. We understand that work to remedy this is ongoing and that the Government intends to have the Directive changed by the time it is required to be transposed in May 2017. (Paragraph 89)

35.We recommend that the Government pursue changing the directive to make it effective and should report back on progress. (Paragraph 89)

36.The insurance industry is by its nature multinational and information should be available across borders to allow for enforcement against foreign uninsured drivers. We recommend that the Government, in its discussions with EU colleagues on the CBE Directive, explore possibilities of expanding the Directive to allow for the sharing of insurance details in order to allow uninsured non-resident drivers to be enforced against with greater ease. (Paragraph 91)

Devolution of powers

37.Granting local authorities the power to enforce against moving traffic offences makes sense. It allows enforcement to take place even where roads police numbers are in decline and it provides valuable local accountability. We see little evidence to support the Department’s position that there is little support for this and find it difficult to understand the Minister’s unwillingness to consider it. (Paragraph 99)

38.We repeat the previous Transport Committee’s recommendation that Part 6 of the Traffic Management Act 2004 be commenced, and also recommend that the Government consider the case for allowing additional moving traffic offences to be subject to civil enforcement in London. (Paragraph 99)

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Prepared 11 March 2016