Yesterday (18/2/2020) the Daily Telegraph published an article by Lucy Denyer which was headlined “Speed awareness courses work, so let’s make them compulsory”. The article told how she attended a speed awareness course after being picked up driving above the speed limit in a 20-mph zone.
She reports that at least she learned that street lights on a road mean that the speed limit is always 30 mph, unless there are signs saying otherwise, which everyone should know of course. But she admits that 5 months later “I know I have forgotten most of what I learnt”. But she then says that we should stop making the courses a punishment, and make them compulsory instead. It is not clear how she expects that to happen. Perhaps as part of all learner driver training?
But the problem is that the speed awareness courses do not work and the only reason for their existence is to enable the police to collect a cut of the fees paid.
I actually had a letter published today in the Daily Telegraph which spelled it out. It said: “Speed awareness courses do not work – accidents are not reduced. This was made clear by a report published by the Department for Transport in 2018 after research by IPSOS-MORI. The reason why the numbers attending speed awareness courses has gone up is simply that police forces like to make money in this way. They are permitted to take a cut of the fees paid”.
See the evidence here: https://speedawareness.wordpress.com/2018/05/14/no-benefit-from-speed-awareness-courses/ . This web site explains how this perversion of justice using the false justification of road safety to generate money has come about: https://www.speed-awareness.org/
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The Daily Mail has reported that not only are the number of speeding fines rising (up 37% since 2011/12) but the chance of being fined varies greatly depending on where you live. West Yorkshire police detected the most speeding offences in 2018/19 at 182,000 while Wiltshire police caught fewer than 1,000. The latter figure is accounted for by the fact that all speed cameras in Wiltshire were turned off in 2010.
Note that almost all speeding offences are detected by cameras and 44% of those identified are offered and accept a speed awareness course. In terms of the overall number of motoring offences, which were 2.8 million in 2018/19, speeding accounted for 84% of them. That means over 1 million people paid for a speed awareness course from which a proportion of the money is retained by the police. You can see why they are so keen to maintain this racket when there is no evidence that attending a speed awareness course improves a driver’s accident record.
See https://www.speed-awareness.org for more information and to sign up for our AMPOW campaign against the illegal use of police waivers to extract money from motorists.
See https://tinyurl.com/t94xtof for the Daily Mail article which gives more details.
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The 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.
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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.
- 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).
- The number of standard NSAC courses rose from 1,188,961 in 2016 to 1,195,356 in 2017.
- The number of NSAC 20 courses (for infringement of 20 mph speed limits), doubled from 17,139 to 34,471.
- 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.
- 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/
- For more information please contact Roger Lawson, Campaign Director, on 020-8295-0378.
(Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmpowABD )
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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.
The “Community Roadwatch” scheme has been promoted by a number of police forces in the last few years. This is where the police train local residents to use speed guns who then report malefactors to the police who send the drivers a “warning” (one might even say “threatening”) letter. But so far as this writer is aware, such letters have no legal force. This scheme has been promoted by Transport for London and the Metropolitan police in London.
According to a recent press report, in the London Borough of Havering they have gone one step further. According to the Romford Recorder, after issuing a letter for the third time to a driver, the police will take further action by issuing a “mandatory speed awareness course” invite. It is not at all clear what legal basis the police might be claiming for having powers to do this. Could they prosecute the driver for example if the speed awareness course invite is ignored?
Of course this kind of scheme, effectively local vigilantism, is opposed by many. For example a poll by Populus conducted on behalf of the AA showed almost equal numbers of people in favour as opposed. As one person said, it was “just an excuse for local busybodies to interfere with neighbours behaviour” (quote from a Guardian article on the subject).
The writer is looking into this topic further.
Where does the money go, paid by speed awareness course attendees? It goes on speed cameras (and operating them) and on police motorcycles!
As readers might be aware, NDORS and the Government have claimed that the police only receive the administration costs associated with the provision of speed awareness courses (allegedly a fixed fee of £35 now). It is likely that this fee more than covers their actual costs, but apart from that there are other ways they receive money from the course providers. Some evidence of this is already on our web site, but more evidence came to our attention recently.
In 2013 Essex County Council responded to a Freedom of Information Act request on the revenue generated from the provision of such courses. The full detail can be read in this link but a summary is given below: http://webapps1.essexcc.gov.uk/FOIdotNET/view_doc.aspx?DocID=1234
Apart from the fact that the numbers attending such courses grew from 4,483 persons in 2010/2011 to 22,778 persons in 2012/2013, it spells out where the surplus that arises over their costs is spent. As it says: “During 2012/13, the ECRB allocated two sums of money from the financial surplus that remained at the end of 2011/12 (the latest year for which audited accounts are available). Both sums were awarded to Essex Police; one for approximately £20,000 for the purchase of two hand-held speed detection devices and the other for approximately £70,000 for the purchase of two motorcycles. The first award is primarily aimed at encouraging compliance with speed limits and the second is primarily aimed at reducing accidents involving motorcyclists.”
In addition, it says “Essex Police are able to recover their costs for the detection and processing of offences captured which includes the highway authorities recovering the majority of the costs incurred maintaining the permanent safety camera installations within their area”.
So in summary, this directly contradicts what NDORS and the Government have been saying. And it is this money that is driving the increase in speed cameras and their use by the police.