Huge Increase in Speed Enforcement

Speed Camera 4The magazine Local Transport Today have run a story headlined “Met Police prepares for huge increase in speed enforcement”. They report that London police are planning a huge programme of speed limit enforcement with the aim of catching a million offenders a year. That’s up from 160,000 per annum at present.

That will be achieved by a large increase in speed camera activities including more mobile speed enforcement equipment. This is likely to mean aggressive enforcement of the 20 mph speed limits being brought in on many London roads.

The above information was disclosed at a meeting of London Councils, the representative body for London boroughs. That organisation is also looking at “decriminalisation” of speeding offences, which would effectively make it possible for local boroughs to enforce speed limits in the same way they do for parking offences at present.

What’s the real motivation behind these moves? It’s almost certainly about filling the coffers of the police by the offer of speed awareness courses, and also enabling local councils to fill their budget holes by also taking a cut of fees paid. Both organisations are under financial pressure and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is unwilling to help with the police budgets but would rather spend money on other things.

There is no evidence that lowering speed limits or more aggressive enforcement has any significant impact on road safety statistics. But politicians like gestures and many are only too pleased to kowtow to the anti-car fanatics. When it can be combined with excuses for revenue raising, it’s difficult to stop.

Just make sure you oppose it though.

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Speed Awareness Courses in Scotland

Scotland does not operate the cash generating system of speed awareness courses that functions in England and Wales. Despite our previous report last August that Police in Scotland had abandoned proposals to implement them, it now seems that they are likely to be introduced.

James Wolfe, the Lord Advocate and head of the legal service in Scotland, is now proposing that they be introduced subject to the consent of a working group and the specific proposals on how they should operate.

It is most unfortunate that the representations the ABD made on this subject have been ignored. As we pointed out to the Lord Advocate in January 2018 there is no evidence that speed awareness courses have any significant impact on road casualties. A Department for Transport (DfT) report on the subject subsequently said exactly that – see https://speedawareness.wordpress.com/2018/05/14/no-benefit-from-speed-awareness-courses/ . Speed awareness courses and the associated “waivers of prosecution” are not just a perversion of justice, but are primarily a way for the police to extract bribes from motorists to fund their operations.

As the Scottish legal system is separate to the UK one, it is possible that this decision could be challenged by a judicial review in Scotland. Otherwise residents of Scotland could write to the Lord Advocate at this address: James Wolffe QC, The Lord Advocate, Judicial Office for Scotland, Parliament House, Edinburgh, EH1 1RQ

Roger Lawson

(Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmpowABD )

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Police Bid to Obtain More Money from Education Courses

Alison Hernandez, who leads on road safety for the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, is advocating that the cost of speeding fines and driver education courses is hiked. This could mean the cost of an average NDORS course might rise to £130. By implication this suggests that she wants the fees received by the police from NDORS courses to rise from £45 to £95 if all the extra money was given to them.

So it’s almost “double your money”. She argues that would enable the police to spend more on road safety, but the analysis by the Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) of where all the money went from such courses in 2017 shows that only a trivial proportion (1.3%) is actually spent on road safety. All the rest is consumed in the safety camera industry including paying for more cameras, more staff to operate them, more administration and more trainers.

But do education courses actually reduce casualties? In other words, is there any road safety benefit by sending people on an education course? Not according to the results of a very detailed Government sponsored study published this year on the subject.

Ms Hernandez also wants the money from speeding fines that currently go to the Treasury to be diverted to the police. That was previously changed after the police turned it into a money generating operation – for example by catching motorists where they were easy to catch rather than where there was a dangerous road location. The Government quite rightly put a stop to that and now funds road safety programmes themselves to ensure the money is allocated wisely. But it was the catalyst for the creation of speed camera industry which is still in operation since the police invented diversionary courses using “waivers of prosecution”. The ABD argues this is not just unauthorised, it is simply illegal. See the ABD’s AMPOW campaign against them for more information.

Ms Hernandez is surely just using “road safety” as a poor excuse to raise more money for her police force. She is Police Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall which should be noted by those who elected her.

Roger Lawson

Further information:

Where All the Money from Speed Awareness Courses Went in 2017: https://speedawareness.wordpress.com/2018/10/23/where-all-the-money-from-speed-awareness-courses-went-in-2017/

No Benefit from Speed Awareness Courses: https://speedawareness.wordpress.com/2018/05/14/no-benefit-from-speed-awareness-courses/

AMPOW Campaign (Against Misuse of Police Waivers) Web Site: https://www.speed-awareness.org/

(Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmpowABD )

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Report on Speed Awareness Course Delayed

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, as the Government commissioned research by IPSOS-MORI into the effectiveness of speed awareness courses seemed to be delayed as it is well past when it was expected to report, I submitted an FOI Act request. I have now received a response.

The answer is that the research has been completed and a draft report was received by the DfT in December. It is being “prepared for publication” which is likely to be in the spring.

Why should it take so long before being published? Probably because it needs extensive massaging to come out with the right answer I suggest. You should not expect this to be an unbiased or scientifically sound study of the issue.

Roger Lawson

(Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmpowABD )

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New Record for Speeding Education Income

The Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) has been campaigning against the abuse of police waivers and the offer of speed awareness courses. The latest figures disclosed by NDORS show that the number of courses undertaken increased to a new record of 1.26 million in 2017. In other words, last year even more drivers were blackmailed into taking a course with the threat of a fine or points on their licence. This is despite the fact there is no hard evidence that such courses have any impact on driver behaviour (a Government commissioned study into their impact seems have been delayed in reporting for unexplained reasons).

The result of these high numbers attending courses is that the police are now receiving £57 million as their proportion of the fees charged on an annual basis. They and NDORS claim that this only covers administrative costs but that is simply not true (the evidence is available on our campaign web site at www.speed-awareness.org). The police are using these fees as a slush fund to finance whatever they want, including the provision of more cameras so that they can rake in even more money from motorists.

The ABD suggests this has nothing to do with road safety but is about generating money for the police to support their shrinking budgets and is of course actively promoted by those in the burgeoning speed camera and course education industry where enormous profits are being made.

There is no evidence that this concentration on speed is having any impact on road safety – it cannot do so for reasons the ABD explained in a previous press release here: http://www.abd.org.uk/the-hidden-truth-behind-statistics-used-to-justify-speed-enforcement-priorities/

The ABD suggests that the Government should put a stop to this abuse of the criminal justice system forthwith. It is in essence a perversion of justice in the cause of police funding.

More information:

  1. The latest data on the number of courses is present on the NDORS web site here:  https://www.ndors.org.uk/scheme/trends-statistics/ (NDORS are the national scheme operators).
  2. The number of standard NSAC courses rose from 1,188,961 in 2016 to 1,195,356 in 2017.
  3. The number of NSAC 20 courses (for infringement of 20 mph speed limits), doubled from 17,139 to 34,471.
  4. The number of NMSAC courses (for infringement of motorway speed limits was 30,030. It was zero the previous year because this was a new course.
  5. More information on the background to this speed awareness industry and the profits it makes are present on the AMPOW (Against the Misuse of Police Waivers) web site here:  http://www.speed-awareness.org/
  6. For more information please contact Roger Lawson, Campaign Director, on 020-8295-0378.

(Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmpowABD )

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Will Your Car Be Prosecuted in Future?

The Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill is currently going through Parliament. It covers legislation necessary for self-driving cars. Included in this is a provision that insurers of cars (rather than car drivers at present), will be liable for any accidents caused by them. For example, as a result of a software defect.

That may be sensible. But one pecularity of this brave new world is the fact that you apparently could still be prosecuted for exceeding a speed limit (or of course be offered a speed awareness course which is even more bizarre). In other words, your car or the manufacturer and software designer will not be liable, nor the car’s insurers, even though it may be their fault that you exceed the speed limit.

This may not be a common problem because such cars should have a digital map of the speed limits on all roads. But it may not be up-to-date. In addition it might not include temporary speed limits (e.g. for road works), and it may not be aware of reduced limits imposed by “smart motorways”. In reality such cars will need to recognise speed limit signs, and interpret them, to ensure they stay within the limits. What’s the chance of that happening when other vehicles may obstruct their view, or the weather conditions cloud the picture? Not all the time I suggest.

So if you think that you will be able to relax in self-driving cars, or if you are using ISA (Intelligent Speed Adaptation) which some folks would like to see mandated, then forget it. Life will simply get yet more complex and confusing for drivers – even if “drivers” is the wrong word to use for those sitting in the driving seat of self-driving cars.

Car owners is probably a more suitable word. And if your self-driving car is not insured when it causes an accident, it’s you as the owner that will be liable.

Welcome to the bizarre new world of self-driving cars.

Roger Lawson

More Accidents After Doing Speed Awareness Course

The Guardian have published an article on speed awareness courses and the fact that some insurers will increase your premium if you report that you have been on one. For example, Admiral increased a quote by £50 apparently.

Even more interesting is the statement that “Admiral says its data shows that drivers who attend a speed awareness course are more likely to have an accident in the following 12 months than those who committed no offence”.

If that is true then it undermines the whole rationale for the speed camera and speed awareness industry. To remind you, more than a million drivers attend such courses each year now, with major profits going to the police, course operators and UK ROED Ltd who run the programme. See www.speed-awareness.org for the evidence.

Is it possible that attending a speed awareness courses makes drivers over confident because they think they “know it all”? Or perhaps they spend more time looking at the speedometer than keeping their eyes on the road? Of course, there could be other explanations, and I will ask Admiral for some more information on their evidence.

Note that the Department for Transport (DfT) have commissioned a study which is due to report later this year on the effectiveness of speed awareness courses. Let us hope that it will provide hard evidence. There have been previous studies of these courses but these have primarily been “attitudinal surveys” taken of those who have attended a course. They generally report positive changes, probably because folks don’t like to admit they wasted a day of their time and the questions posed could be “leading” ones. Other feedback is patchy – for example listen to one member of the public rubbishing the course he attended on a recent BBC radio programme here: https://speedawareness.wordpress.com/2017/08/16/money-making-in-northern-ireland-from-speed-awareness-courses/

It should of course be possible to track the accident records (either from police reports or accident claims) of drivers before and after attendance. That would provide the hard evidence. But even if proven, it would not make the offer of such courses legal. In the meantime, nobody involved in the running of these courses seems to want to examine the facts.

The Guardian article is present here: https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/aug/21/admiral-car-insurance-speed-awareness-course

Roger Lawson