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Press Release: UK Drivers Sleepwalking Into Macron Style Taxes On ‘Eco’ Hatchbacks

The ABD reveals that modest three years old ‘eco branded’ family hatchbacks will soon be effectively banned from inside the London North and South Circular roads. That approach will likely be copied in cities and towns across the UK:

Owners of many just over three years old top selling diesel hatchbacks branded ‘eco’ or ‘blue’ will soon wake up to a shock as huge charges will effectively ban cars from towns and cities including some 2015 registered ‘Eco’ or ‘Blue’ branded Fiestas, Focus, Golfs, Corsas, Astras etc (see list below). When these charges are imposed owners will see their cars plummet in value.

ABD spokesman Nigel Humphries comments: “Many people think that as they don’t drive in London, or that they drive newish ‘eco’ cars, this won’t affect them.  They are wrong. The UK Government have given powers to local authorities to introduce emissions-based charges pretty much at their whim and with no justification.

Councils all over the UK are looking to copy Sadiq Khan’s lead, Manchester being well advanced in its plan.  Values of the many affected cars, and even some that are not currently affected, will fall due to fear of future charges long before they even happen. If the government wish to avoid ‘Yellow Vest’ style protests they need to act now, remove such powers from local authorities and ban all such schemes.”

The ABD searched the London ULEZ site (applying within the congestion charge zone from 2019 and spreading beyond from 2021) using genuine registration numbers of a number of modern family hatchbacks taken from online car sales websites.

Check your car here: https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/ultra-low-emission-zone/vrm-checker-ulez

Here are just some of the cars falling foul of ULEZ charges:

2015 Citroen C3 Edition 1.6 Bluehdi 100 Edition 5dr 90bhp
2015 Citroen C4 1.6 e-HDi Airdream VTR+ Hatchback 5dr Diesel 115bhp
2015 Ford Fiesta 1.6 TDCi ECOnetic Style 5dr  94bhp
2015 Ford Focus 1.6 TDCi 115 Zetec 5dr  113bhp
2015 Fiat Panda 1.2 MULTIJET POP 5d 75 BHP
2015 Fiat 500 Lounge1.3  Multijet 3dr 95bhp
2015 Nissan Juke 1.5 ACENTA DCi 5 DOOR 110 BHP
2015 Renault Clio 1.5 dCi ECO Expression + 5dr 90bhp
2015 Toyota Auris 1.4 D-4D Excel (s/s) 5dr 90bhp
2015 Vauxhall Corsa 1.3CDTi Ecoflex Design 94BHP
2015 Vauxhall Astra 2.0 CDTi Ecoflex Elite 163 bhp
2015 Vauxhall Astra 1.6 CDTi 16V Ecoflex Design 5dr 108bhp
2014 VW Golf 1.6tdi estate 89 bhp and 108 bhp
2015 VW Golf hatch 1.6tdi Bluemotion tech S 104bhp
2015 VW Golf Bluemotion 1.6tdi estate 108bhp

 

 

Press Release: Are 20 MPH Speed Limit Campaigners Killing People?

The Department for Transport (DfT) recently published the most authoritative study to date on the impact of wide-area signed-only 20 mph speed limits. It showed that there is no road safety benefit whatsoever from such schemes. In addition they have negligible impact on modal shift or on traffic speeds.

This is the long-awaited evidence that enormous amounts of money are being wasted on implementing 20 mph schemes which could have been spent instead on more effective road safety measures. In London alone, it is estimated that tens of millions of pounds have been spent on 20-mph signed-only schemes to no effect and nationwide it must run into hundreds of millions of pounds.

This disappointing result is very similar to the result of a study of driver education courses now being used by the police to generate funds. Both that and 20 mph schemes have been advocated by those who know little about road safety and have not studied the evidence. The Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) has long called for “evidence-based” road safety policies. The latest evidence should not be ignored.

One organisation that has been promoting 20-mph speed limits as the solution to road safety problems is “20s Plenty for Us” – see http://www.20splenty.org/ .

Their reaction to the report is to criticise the statistical analysis and the areas studied (both of which are unjustified) and suggest all that is needed is more enforcement. The fact that even active enforcement (e.g. in the City of London where hundreds of drivers have been fined for exceeding 20 mph with no impact on casualties) only reduces traffic speed by insignificant amounts is ignored.

The DfT report can be read here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/20-mph-speed-limits-on-roads . Key paragraphs from the report are:

“The evidence available to date shows no significant change in the short term in collisions and casualties, in the majority of the case studies (including the aggregated set of residential case studies).”

“Journey speed analysis shows that the median speed has fallen by 0.7mph in residential areas and 0.9mph in city centre areas.”

What has been happening is that the anti-car activists encouraged by 20s Plenty are now wasting millions of pounds nationwide when that money would have been better spent on other road safety measures – such as road engineering and education of younger drivers.

Note: the ABD is not opposed to the use of 20-mph speed limits where it might be of benefit or where compliance will be high but it is not the solution to all road safety problems and simply sticking up signs is a waste of money. The simplistic solutions proposed by 20s Plenty and others cannot and does not work to reduce the Killed and Seriously Injured on our roads to any major extent.

ABD Press Release: The UK Government Should Follow French Lead and Ban Local Congestion Charges

The French government have swiftly reacted to recent riots and scrapped plans to introduce urban tolls or congestion charges as we know them (1).  It is not in the British driver’s nature to protest and riot but the ABD urges the UK government to follow the French lead and scrap the rights given to local authorities to intruduce local tolls and parking fees ad hoc with no regulation whatsoever.

ABD spokesman Nigel Humphries comments:    Councils all over Britain are looking at plans to punish and fine those they perceive as ‘polluters’ with no scientific evidence of a problem (2).  These are often set to trap even recent ‘economy cars’.  This will be a disastrous effect of ‘localism’ and is totally unjustified.  The London ULEZ is already an example of this.  It must be stamped out now or the British habit of rolling over and accepting all could change come election time. 

1.  https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-environment/france-drops-plan-for-urban-tolls-amid-fuel-price-protests-idUSKCN1NV1PZ

2.  http://www.abd.org.uk/air-quality-and-vehicles-the-truth/

 

Money Generation By Councils

The ABD has covered several examples of money generation by local Councils from PCNs. For example, for illegal turns, infringement of yellow box junctions, infringement of bus lanes and other “moving traffic offences”. See coverage of complaints about Bank junction in the City of London, and by Westminster and Hackney councils in our London blog. These often arise from poor signage that drivers fail to spot. These are rarely deliberate infringements but are simply caused by unfamiliarity with the road and simple oversight. By using automated camera systems, councils can quickly generate hundreds of thousands of pounds in revenue. Appeals against the fines rarely succeed.

Sometimes it appears that changes to roads are often implemented by councils with the knowledge that drivers will be caught by unexpected route changes and poor signage.

A Parliamentary petition against the abuses that this is producing has now been created. It calls for an independent review of the law. Please sign it here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/232919

More Government Anti-driver Aggression

The Governments agenda for continued aggression and harassment on those choosing to drive, has prompted further steps to make driving more unpleasant and without doubt leading to more convictions.

Will this result in increased ‘sales’ of Awareness Courses?

The main points that they are going to impose:-

“Review the existing guidance in the Highway Code to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians”.

There are already twenty-five pages in the Highway Code devoted to cyclists, pedestrians, mobility scooter users: how many of these users have ever read them?

“Invest £100,000 to support police enforcement by developing a national back office function to handle dash cam footage”

While dash-cams can be useful as evidence in dangerous situations, the idea that the police are going to support widespread surveillance and allow this quisling army of self-righteous hypocrites to spread state sponsored hatred, is beyond condemnation.  On Armistice Day we have all these politicians going on about people dying for our freedom blah, blah, blah and now they are setting up their own secret Stasi that would make Stalin proud!

“Improve enforcement against parking in cycle lanes”

That should cheer delivery drivers up and those held up, as they park on the outside of cycle lanes, just trying to do their job.

 “Appoint a cycle and walking champion”.

 Job comes with a car?

“Encourage local authorities to increase investment in cycling and walking infrastructure to 15% of total transport infrastructure spending”.

Deny drivers a parking, space and you deny them the journey, so expect less parking spaces and at a greater cost. Plus, less money for road maintenance.

“Engage with cycling and walking bodies to develop a behaviour change campaign”.

 So exclude sixty million car users (drivers and passengers) for the benefit of a tiny fraction of the population that wants to just do as they like, unheeded by legislation.

Licence holders have hundreds of rules/regulations they must obey and are severely punished if they get it wrong.  For cyclists there is not much they can get punished for and certainly there is very little enforcement of regulations.  As for pedestrians; then it is a free-for-all.

Every year millions of mostly safe drivers are punished for meaningless infractions of the law. By continually putting all the road safety emphasis on the licence holder, is it any wonder that accident reduction has stabilised, when the vast majority of road users pedestrians and cyclists can do what they like with complete impunity from punishment!

REF:- https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/cycling-and-walking-investment-strategy-cwis-safety-review

No Road Safety Benefit from 20 MPH Schemes

The Department for Transport (DfT) have released a report that shows there is no road safety benefit whatsoever from signed-only 20 mph schemes. In addition they have negligible impact on modal shift or on traffic speeds.

This is the long-awaited evidence that enormous amounts of money are being wasted on implementing 20 mph schemes which could have been spent instead on more effective road safety measures such as road engineering or education. In London alone, it is estimated that tens of millions of pounds have been spent on 20-mph signed-only schemes to no effect and nationwide it must run into hundreds of millions of pounds.

This disappointing result is very similar to the result of a study of driver education courses now being used by the police to generate funds. Both that and 20 mph schemes have been advocated by those who know little about road safety and have not studied the evidence. The Alliance of British Drivers has long called for “evidence-based” road safety policies. Let us hope this latest evidence will not be ignored.

There will no doubt be calls for more enforcement of 20 mph limits but that ignores the basic issue – namely that reducing traffic speeds simply has little impact on road casualty statistics because excessive speed is one of the lowest contributory factors to road accidents – in reality less than 5% according to police reported statistics.

The DfT report can be read here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/20-mph-speed-limits-on-roads . Key paragraphs from the report are:

“The evidence available to date shows no significant change in the short term in collisions and casualties, in the majority of the case studies (including the aggregated set of residential case studies).”

“Journey speed analysis shows that the median speed has fallen by 0.7mph in residential areas and 0.9mph in city centre areas.”

“The majority of resident (about two-thirds) and non-resident drivers (just over half) have not noticed a reduction in the speed of vehicles, and do not perceive there to be fewer vehicles driving at excessive speeds for the area.”

Fight Against Unfair Fines By Councils

Have you ever received a PCN from a Local Council?

Did you believe the penalty was unfair? Did your appeal fail?

I am currently fighting Westminster Council against a PCN issued for Turning Left out of Denman Street into Shaftesbury Avenue, London. It transpires that in 2017 over 13,000 PCN’s were issued raising £700,000 despite the fact that it is illegal for councils to use such enforcement purely for fiscal reasons.

In my opinion this particular junction is badly signposted and is unfit for purpose for a number of reasons: –

There are only 4 signs indicating direction of travel, 2 of which are easily mistaken for “one way” signs the other 2 being a green arrow on traffic signals (see photos below). None of the signs are easily visible and green arrows not visible at all when lights on red. There are no advance warning signs, road markings or supplementary plates instructing ahead only.

Traffic is allowed to travel along Shaftesbury Ave in both directions, but not when exiting Denman St so there is no obvious reason for this restriction. On the nearby Gt. Russell St (a similar type of junction) where only 40 PCN’s were issued in 2017 there are signs clearly indicating no left or right turns so why not on Denman Street?

It is a fact that councils rely on motorists just to pay the fine, and apart from the appeals system there is no way of questioning whether a junction is correctly signposted. This is just one example of how councils make money by putting in artificial restrictions which are then badly signposted. Other examples in London that the ABD reported on in August were the London Borough of Hackney where left turns off Mare Street in certain hours are banned, the closure of roads in Croydon around schools and in the City of London at Bank Junction, but there are no doubt lots of other examples around the country.

It’s time therefore for us motorists to get together and fight these unfair penalties, so if you have been fined at this junction or anywhere else where you feel there has been an injustice then please contact John Leak using this ABD London contact page (messages will be forwarded to me if you mention my name): https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/contact.htm

John Leak

Where All the Money from Speed Awareness Courses Went in 2017

UK ROED, the company which operates the NDORS driver education scheme, recently published its accounts to the end of March 2018. UK ROED Ltd is owned by (i.e. is a subsidiary of) a charity named The Road Safety Trust, another company which published accounts to the same date. What do these accounts tell us about the massive slush fund that is being operated in the name of road safety?

UK ROED Ltd had income of £61.6 million from fees received, from which £55.9 million was paid to the police. That’s up from £47.5 million paid to the police in the previous year. Those fees are allegedly to cover the police’s administration costs but are in reality used to fund expansion of speed camera operations and other unrelated costs that have nothing much to do with road safety – see information on our web site here about that: https://www.speed-awareness.org/

Of the £61.6 million in income, only £1.8 million was paid over to The Road Safety Trust – down from £3.1 million in the previous year). That charity spent £1.3 million on charitable activities which mainly comprise funding of research activities. These are no doubt worthy activities. But the surplus of £485,000 was retained. This resulted in the assets it held increasing to £4.4 million. In other words, this is not only a charity that does not spend all of its income, but it is also building up a very substantial financial asset figure which is not normally perceived as acceptable for charities.

UK ROED Ltd had £3.8 million of “administrative expenses” but only £764,000 was spent on staff salaries and pensions. It is not obvious where the difference was spent.

In addition to the £61.6 million that passes through the UK ROED accounts there are the fees received by the speed awareness course operators. One of the largest course operators is TTC 2000 Ltd whose accounts to December 2017 showed revenue of £26.8 million and profits of £775,000. They run about a third of all speed awareness courses. Based on that information and the fact that average course fees are about £100, it’s reasonable to estimate that total fees paid by the 1.2 million drivers attending courses each year is at least £100 million.

Therefore in total the speed-awareness course system is extracting £100 million from the pockets of road users with no immediate road safety benefit whatsoever and with a trivial proportion (about 1.3%) actually being spent on road safety research or programmes. All the rest goes on expenses including the employment of many ex-police officers.

Bearing in mind that a recently published report from the Department for Transport (DfT) showed there was no “statistically significant effect on the number or severity of injury collisions” from attendance at a speed awareness course (in other words, NO BENEFIT WHATSOEVER), it is very odd that the Government permits the operations of these companies to continue. It would seem they are self-perpetuating and self-governed organisations which are outside of Government control and which consume £100 million of pounds every year of road users’ cash while they have no direct impact on road casualties.

If you wish to support the ABD’s campaign against speed-awareness courses, which are being used to finance ever growing numbers of speed cameras, please register your interest here:  https://www.speed-awareness.org/join.html  

Roger Lawson

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

New Lower Thames Crossing – Public Consultation Available

The Highways Agency have been developing plans for a new Thames crossing east of the Dartford Crossing. This will relieve traffic at the Dartford Crossing which is often heavily congested even after the introduction of the free-flow charging system. The Highways Agency has published revised plans for a three-lane road including a 2.4-mile long tunnel under the Thames which will be the longest in the UK.

The new crossing will link the M2 near Rochester, Kent with the M25 in Essex and will help to provide better network connections for the growing housing and business developments in Kent and improved access to the Channel ports for the rest of the country.

The proposals include some improvements to the M2/A2 which is often heavily congested although those enhancements seem somewhat limited in scope.

It is also proposed to introduce a free-flow charging system similar to that at the Dartford Crossing which the ABD has objected to because many people fail to pay with such systems and collect a fine as a result. We suggest the crossing should be free (as the Severn bridges have been made recently), as should the Dartford one be, and as all major network routes should be.

There is a public consultation on the proposals here which you can respond to – please do so: https://highwaysengland.citizenspace.com/ltc/consultation/

We also suggest that you should urge the Highways Agency to get on with it as soon as possible (earlier than the proposed 2027 completion date preferably).

Speed Limit Setting and Road Safety

Traditionally, speed limits in the UK were set at levels that most drivers considered reasonable, and the police enforced them, for the most part, with common sense and flexibility. Unfortunately this is no longer the case.

In the early 1990s’ recession, the government was seeking to reduce public expenditure and the roads budget was seen as a soft target. At the same time, it wanted to be seen as being serious about road safety, so it authorised the use of speed cameras, which were much cheaper than building the new and improved roads the country needed.

The result has been an explosion in automated speed limit enforcement and the creation of an entire industry dependent upon it. In recent years this has been financed largely by the fees paid by those drivers who have been offered, and accepted, a speed awareness course in lieu of a fine and penalty points (see the ABD’s AMPOW campaign for more information on that here: https://www.speed-awareness.org/ ).

In order to maintain a steady and growing income stream, camera enforcement has been targeted increasingly at locations where large numbers of drivers exceed unrealistically low speed limits, rather than where there is a history of speed-related accidents. The decision to prosecute or offer a speed awareness course is based on an arbitrary threshold that applies around the clock, regardless of the degree of danger caused. The reduction in police traffic patrols has removed the human interaction between drivers and traffic officers, who had the ability to assess the seriousness of an offence.

Speed limits have been lowered on the basis of dubious claims that lower average speeds always lead to fewer accidents. The result is that more and more drivers are exceeding these unreasonably low limits, with speed limits everywhere coming into disrepute.

The ABD wants a return to sensible speed limits, sensibly enforced. This will require the banning of enforcement operations financed by the proceeds of those operations, since this distorts priorities. Enforcement should instead be financed by government grants, set at the levels needed to maintain safety.

There also needs to be a return to the setting of speed limits at levels that a substantial majority of drivers would consider reasonable. This may require removing speed limit setting powers from local authorities, which are often influenced by vociferous residents or anti-car organisations into reducing limits unnecessarily.

Finally, the police should be given the money they need to reinstate police traffic patrols, to deter reckless behaviour by the minority of drivers who, in many cases, are not caught by automated camera enforcement.