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France downgrades speed limits –be careful out there!

In June 2016 Britain voted to leave the EU, but the British government decided that it will continue to impose EU motoring laws, without any ‘Sunset Clauses’.

So in May 2017 the – ‘2015/413/EU Cross Border Enforcement Directive’ was bought into British law, which now means EU governments have access to your records via the DVLA.

Previously to imposing this legislation, you had to be stopped and an on-the-spot fine issued; now that is no longer the case.

As most ‘evidence’ is now gathered electronically, it means prosecutions can be harvested in their millions, as opposed to the lower limitations imposed by a personal, more human, one-to-one basis.

This will allow unscrupulous law-enforcement agencies (private or governmental), to issue fines to any ‘foreign’ vehicle owner. Safe in the knowledge that there is little chance of anybody contesting the ‘evidence’ with no legislation for the need to supply any proof e.g. photos, film, etc.

The prospect of trying to defend one’s self in a British court of law, most people would find daunting enough. So in a foreign ‘alien’ judiciary and court system, combined with the complexity of the law in that country, the huge expense of travelling to the court and the language problem, means for those handing out the prosecutions, who know full well, that they are not going to be challenged!

So be very, very careful now, when travelling in the EU. From 1st July 2018 the speed limit on single carriageway roads will be downgraded from the current 90kph to 80kph (50mph) with of course another 10kph less when wet.

For now, this is the only limit that has been changed.

For more information: https://www.aph.com/community/holidays/french-speed-limit-cut-later-year-find-avoid-risk-fines-650/

Press Release: 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://ndors.org.uk/trends-stats/ (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.

The Hidden Truth Behind Statistics Used To Justify Speed Enforcement Priorities

Around 1,800 people die on the roads per year and around 24,000 are ‘seriously injured’. It is well known that around 15% of fatal and 7% of serious injury crashes involve speeds above the speed limit (1). But how many of those (217 deaths in 2016) involved the sober, otherwise legal drivers travelling a few mph above the speed limit who are the prime target of road traffic enforcement by a huge margin(2)?

The truth is shocking. It seems that those who collate the statistics have never bothered to find out!

So who are the drivers who crash and kill above the speed limit? Listening to the government, local authorities, the enforcement industry and vocal campaigning organisations, the impression given is that it is largely normally law-abiding drivers travelling just above the speed limit who are mowing down pedestrians and cyclists left, right and centre. This is clearly what they intend us to believe.

Observing the news, however, we see a contradiction: Almost every day there are cases of ‘speeding drivers’ who are also drunk or drugged, driving stolen cars, racing, making highly dangerous high speed manoeuvres or simply travelling at recklessly high speeds killing whilst also happening to be travelling above the speed limit. These are ALL of course recorded as above speed limit fatalities or ‘Speeding Deaths’.

So surely somebody will have asked the question of how many are actually killed by the prime target of enforcement, the sober, otherwise legal driver travelling just above the limit and how many by the above categories of driver for whom such enforcement has little if any effect?

Shockingly it seems not.

So what information do we have? Of course the vast majority, 85% of fatal and 93% of serious injury crashes, involved vehicles judged to be travelling within speed limits. However we are concentrating here only on the remainder, crashes above the speed limit. 217 people died in such crashes in 2016, 1,238 were seriously injured. Statistics show that large proportions of these involved other serious factors as well as exceeding the limit (3):

* 23% of above speed limit crashes involved vehicles used in course of a crime.

* 21% of above speed limit crashes involved stolen cars.

* 23% of above speed limit crashes involved aggressive driving.

* 20% of above speed limit crashes involved drugs.

* 16% of above speed limit crashes over limit crashes involved alcohol.

* 19% of above speed limit crashes involved disobeying double white lines.

* 10% of above speed limit crashes involved mobile phone use.

* 8% of above speed limit crashes involved inexperience (Shockingly there is no category for unlicensed drivers, so presumably this would include these).

Clearly there has to be some overlap of factors such as the drunk and drugged driver crashing above the speed limit in a stolen car. So what overlap is there? Shockingly nobody seems to know. The DfT don’t know. The enforcers don’t know. What speeds did the crashes occur at? How many were at recklessly high speeds and how many were minor transgressions of speed limits as we see all the time on our roads. Again, despite speeds always being approximated after fatal crashes, nobody seems to know or have bothered to investigate.

So how have we got to this incredible state of affairs and what do we do to rectify it?

ABD spokesman Nigel Humphries comments: “We have got to this point largely because for decades now there has been a huge campaign by the authorities to convince us that sober, otherwise legal drivers exceeding the speed limit are a major cause of death and injury. A huge, well-funded industry with vested interests has built up around that ‘fact’ being true; but clearly this ‘truth’ is very much in doubt. Many of the public believe it and many campaign on the issue, some with axes to grind; but most probably genuinely believing in their cause. Most politicians, both local and national, have never questioned it. Those who dare question things are shouted down and come up against a brick wall. Now is the time to hold those responsible for this shambles to account. We need some answers”.

So what needs to be done to put things right? Well actually it is extremely simply. The number of fatalities in a given year occurring above the speed limit – whilst of course tragic – are fairly small numbers to investigate. There were 217 in 2016. Serious injuries are a larger number 1,238 in 2016; but again by no means an unmanageable figure to investigate. Approximate speeds are recorded by police after every fatal and serious injury crash. The statistics are there but are hidden on the individual crash report forms and not available to the public.

If these figures were to be released to an independent researcher it would take maybe a day’s work for one person to collate the facts. It is that simple.

If the authorities are really serious about improving road safety – as opposed to merely burying their heads in the sand while collecting ballooning speed awareness course and fine revenues – they would urgently investigate this issue. The ABD strongly urges them to do so. We cannot continue prosecuting millions of road users per year on an unsubstantiated (but extremely profitable) whim.

For all we know, very few of the crashes above the speed limit – or indeed none of them – may actually involve the sober, otherwise legal driver exceeding the limit by small margins. In which case, the last two-and-a-half decades of speed enforcement-biased road safety policy have been based on an entirely false premise. Indeed, the ABD strongly suspects this to be the case from the evidence available.

The investigation of road accidents, and associated statistical analysis, is woefully inadequate compared to the way that aircraft and maritime accidents are investigated by the AAIB (4) and MAIB (5). The ABD has long called for an independent, objective road accident investigation body, but the government just stalls and makes excuses.

Perhaps they are frightened the embarrassing truth may come out?

References:

  1. RAS 50001 https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/ras50-contributory-factors
  2. 1.97 Million Fixed Penalty Speeding Tickets 2016. Approximately half took speed awareness courses
  3. RAS 50010 https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/ras50-contributory-factors
  4. AAIB (Aircraft Accident Investigation Branch) Reports:https://www.gov.uk/aaib-reports
  5. MAIB (Marine Accident Investigation Branch) Reports:https://www.gov.uk/maib-reports

ENDS

Speed Enforcement Needs Firm Regulation

The ABD calls for a firm regulatory framework for the UK speed enforcement industry.

For many years now, the Alliance of British Drivers has become increasingly concerned that the UK road safety industry has been evolving an unhealthy and – in road safety terms – counterproductive obsession with speed management; best characterised by the phrase: “The answer’s a speed camera, what’s the problem?”.

The overwhelming majority of road accidents are not caused by exceeding speed limits, but by poor observation and inattention. Casualty accidents that involve speeds that are inappropriate, highly excessive and illegal never involve the sober, otherwise legal drivers exceeding (often inappropriately low) speed limits by small margins that make up the vast majority of prosecutions.

The perpetrators of road accidents that do involve inappropriate, highly excessive, illegal speed are almost invariably grossly perceptually-impaired by alcohol and/ or drug abuse and/ or are engaged in other outright criminal activity: e.g., car (or property) theft, street racing or indeed terrorist activity. If you’re in any doubt about how true this is, try Googling: “Killed by a speeding driver”. Alternatively see, for example, the coverage of the horrific A38/A4540 Belgrave Middleway incident in central Birmingham: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlldeUHFWG4; which appears to have been a direct result of street racing.

Such criminal road users are totally oblivious to, or contemptuous of, any form of automated speed enforcement. This means that speed cameras can never cut casualties. This fact was established beyond any reasonable doubt by intensive investigation undertaken by Paul Garvin whilst he was Chief Constable of Durham Constabulary[Ref.1,2].

Paul Garvin’s views are wholly corroborated by detailed studies undertaken by independent road safety researcher, Idris Francis[Ref.3], to capture the influence of Regression to the Mean on road death and serious injury rates since the 1950s. These studies show no discernible casualty rate fall advantages – perhaps worse ones – for road stretches equipped with fixed (or mobile) speed cameras over those stretches without any cameras [see fatal and serious casualties [FSC] chart below and Ref.4].

Instead of tackling the pernicious problems posed by the very specific group of criminal road users identified above – through the provision of an adequate, highly-trained, physical police presence on our roads – the DfT and the UK road safety industry instead choose to use their behaviour as sham legitimisation for the relentless persecution and financial exploitation of the overwhelming majority of essentially safe road users.

The ABD calls for the following:

1. The reinstatement of a cadre of dedicated, highly-trained, road traffic officers; whose objective is to improve road safety by eradicating unsafe road use, rather than primarily collecting fine-/speed awareness course attendee revenues associated with trivial transgressions.

2. The creation of a truly independent and objective Road Accident Investigation Board. Along the lines of the marine and aviation counterparts; this body would investigate the causes of road accidents, formulate and implement effective road safety policy and regulate UK speed enforcement operations.

3. The abolition of any motive encouraging speed enforcement for profit. There must be a total financial segregation between those involved in speed enforcement operations and any revenue streams arising from the prosecution or rehabilitation of speed limit offenders.

4. The abolition of all those private limited companies that are active in road safety policy formulation and implementation; and their replacement with transparent, wholly publicly accountable bodies. Such bodies must be responsive to public concerns about the irresponsible, unregulated abuse of power. There should be no exercise of such power without responsibility and accountability.

Note: The ABD has been supporting a campaign named AMPOW against the abuse of police waivers and speed awareness courses. See this web site for more information: http://www.speed-awareness.org/.

References:
1. http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/speeding-drivers-fine-mess-1603148
2. ‘Speed Cameras don’t save lives’, Durham Constabulary Chief Constable Paul Garvin, Sunday Telegraph, December 7th, 2003, p.8.
3. http://www.fightbackwithfacts.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Speed-Camera-Damage-to-road-safety-03a1c91.pdf.
4. http://www.fightbackwithfacts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/SPEED-CAMERA-DAMAGE-UPDATE.pdf

 

New ABD Web Site

The Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) have released a new web site (at www.abd.org.uk). It is a clean, uncluttered new design developed in WordPress that replaces a site that had been in use for many years and was showing its age.

The new site is aimed at communicating the key policies that the ABD promotes and why people should join the organisation.

The intention is to develop the site further (we recognise that the graphics could be improved for example) and the content expanded. Anyone who has suggestions to make for site improvements should contact me via the Contact page: http://www.abd.org.uk/about/contact/

Roger Lawson

Speed Offences Hit Record High

Figures published by the Department for Transport (DfT) show that recorded speed limit offences hit a record high in 2016. With 2.1 million offences, they have increased steadily from a level of 1.1 million in 2010. They are now higher than the previous record level set in 2005. This is despite the fact that over 1 million drivers are now taking speed awareness courses every year to avoid prosecution. This surely demonstrates that such “education” courses are having no effect whatsoever on drivers’ behaviour.

The increase in the number of recorded offences is not down to increased speeding but simply because the police now see it as a great source of income and hence are using police “waivers” and speed awareness courses to generate money.

As the Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) have repeatedly claimed, such operations by the police have nothing to do with improving road safety but are simply about generating cash. To remind readers, only 5% of personal injury accidents reported by the police have a factor of exceeding the speed limit as a contributory cause. There are other factors that are much more important which automated enforcement can do little about.

More information is present here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/cars/article-5114945/Speeding-offences-hit-new-high-2016.html . And of course on the AMPOW campaign web site here: www.speed-awareness.org

Roger Lawson

Chancellor Should Cut Electric Car Subsidy and cap VED for ULEZ compliant vehicles in Budget

The average driver doing 8,000 miles in a new 40mpg hatchback pays around £900 per annum in fuel tax and VED. Drivers of older cars can pay double this amount. Drivers of electric cars not only pay nothing whatsoever to use the roads, they also receive a gift of £4,000 from the taxpayer when they purchase their new electric car.

ABD spokesman Nigel Humphries explains:

“The ABD has no gripe about encouraging the use of electric cars. They do move the pollution source out of town, although new cars are extremely clean. However, electric cars still cause just as much congestion and wear to the roads as any other car. It is simply unjust when so many are struggling financially to give electric car drivers subsidies and free road use. We would like to see VED of £500 on new electric cars, £100 on existing electric cars and an end to the cash subsidy. This would still mean electric car owners would pay significantly less than other drivers but would pay some contribution to infrastructure costs.”

The new London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) sets a minimum standard of Euro 4 compliance for petrol cars and Euro 6 for diesels. As recent budgets have seen a welcome move away from CO₂ and towards NOx taxation, it seems at odds that many ULEZ compliant cars are paying over £300 1 and in some cases £520 VED 2 when they are deemed clean enough for city centres even by the London Mayor’s standards.

ABD spokesman Nigel Humphries said:

The ABD calls for a cap on VED at £200 for all existing vehicles that comply with ULEZ standards. Scrapping the strange anomaly because of which, cars with low NOx emissions are paying very high VED rates, would help drivers of clean older cars who are overpaying for no valid reason.”

NOTES FOR EDITORS

1. 2008 Ford mondeo 2.5 £305 VED ULEZ Compliant
2. 2008 Vauxhall Vectra 2.8 £520 VED ULEZ Compliant

What Has the London Mayor Got to Hide?

In June, London Mayor Sadiq Khan opened a crucial consultation that will decide the future of transport in London.

The Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) has spoken to several members of the public and found that hardly anyone was aware of it. Some felt that it had been seriously under-publicised.

There have been occasional tube station posters, but they are very bland, mentioning housing and employment but not the quite drastic policies planned for drivers. For instance, the Mayor’s Transport Strategy threatens the extension of the Congestion Charge across Greater London and new taxes to force drivers out of their cars.

Congestion charging spokesman Brian Mooney asks:

“What has the Mayor got to hide?

Khan amazingly claims that drivers pay too little to use the roads and they are subsidised by public transport users.
Our research provides evidence to the contrary — that drivers pay four to five times over to use the roads and our taxes in fact subsidise public transport.
The Mayor’s office was challenged to provide some evidence via a Freedom of Information Request, but could produce none. 1 2 3 4

If he thinks that the overtaxed driving public will support him forcing us to pay even more — or worse still depriving us of using the roads we’ve paid for — then he should at least be upfront with us over his plans.

It would be quite unacceptable if he takes silence as approval for his uncosted proposals — or even a blank cheque.
Particularly as he was elected on a promise not to extend the Congestion Charge. 5

I challenge the Mayor to appear on a mainstream phone-in with me to face the public over this important issue.
This should be within the next three weeks to meet the consultation deadline. 6

NOTES FOR EDITORS

1. The claim is on p265 of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy consultation draft.
“…the fundamentally inadequate and unfair way in which road use is paid for in London, with motorists
paying too little, and in effect being subsidised by public transport fare payers.” Evidence to the contrary illustrating the net tax paid by drivers is on

2. FOI request: MGLA280717-2452, correspondence available on request.
Failure to respond properly breaches both GLA and wider Local Government standards.
“The Mayor is determined that the GLA leads the way in openness and transparency.”
Openness and Transparency
Local government transparency code

3. ABD London Chairman Roger Lawson has experienced similar evasion from Mayor Khan’s aides at Transport for London.
Roger asked for basic financial information on the costs and benefits of the ULEZ proposals, but no budgets or estimates of the costs have been provided
(FOI Request Ref: FOI-0071-1718) – it is currently subject to a complaint to the Information Commissioner but the delays alone have frustrated democracy.
Roger Lawson is contactable on 020-8295 0378 or london@abd.org.uk

4. There is other evidence that the Mayor’s MTS consultation does not meet legal expectations.
Cabinet Office consultation guidelines include:
“Consultations should provide sufficient information to ensure the process is fair.”
Consultation principles guidance
Consultation Principles Oct 2013

The Supreme Court ruled in 2014
“The demands of fairness are likely to be higher when the consultation relates to a decision which is likely to deprive someone of an existing benefit.”
(UKSC56, Haringey v Moseley)

In a more recent case, Justice Patterson reiterated the principles upheld by the Supreme Court case that a consultation will be fair if it:
1. communicates the public authority’s proposal to those with a potential interest;
2. explains why that proposal is being considered;
3. provides the consultees with sufficient information to make informed responses to the proposals.

(R (Angharad Morris and Donna Thomas) v Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council [2015] EWHC 1403 (Admin))

5. The 300 page MTS document fails to give proper ballpark figures for what will certainly be the large sums of money Mayor Khan plans to take from those who can currently afford to drive in London or the substantial cost of implementing his schemes.

Sadiq Khan’s 2016 manifesto promised (p36)
“to maintain the Congestion Charge at its current level”.

The MTS threatens a range of punishing measures including:
– Extending the Congestion Charge (road pricing) London-wide, with drivers being charged to use local roads
– New and higher motoring taxes to stop drivers using their cars
– A ‘workplace parking levy’ — a tax on going to work
– Reduction in the availability of parking
– Measures to remove road space from drivers who’ve paid for it
– Gratuitous ‘car-free days’, road closures and speed restrictions
http://www.cantpaywontpay.london

6. This offer is specifically aimed at the Mayor, not an underling or lobbyist substitute, as he made his promise in a personal manifesto.

The timescale would be between now and 20 September to allow listeners adequate time to respond to the consultation which concludes on 2 October. Brian Mooney is due to be away in late September.

Mainstream phone-ins would be on recognised London radio stations like LBC or TalkRadio, between the hours of 7am and 10pm, and at reasonable (at least 24 hours’) notice.

Brian Mooney is contactable on 07976-414913 or brian@london-motoring.org.uk .

Diesel and Petrol Car Demonisation Scientifically Unjustifiable says ABD

Scare Stories About Emissions are a Lie

So, diesel and petrol cars will no longer be on sale after 2040, politicians have decided.

They would be well-advised to consult their electorate first.

For decades now, whenever government wants to change (and invariably increase!) vehicle taxation, scientifically unsound diesel and petrol car emission scare stories have been periodically rolled out by tax-hungry politicians; and supported by useful-idiot eco-lobbyists who simply wish to curtail freedom and personal mobility.

The true situation is that car emissions – and indeed those of all major atmospheric pollutants – have been dramatically declining for the past four-and-a-half decades: 1

GraphThere is no urban toxic vehicle emissions crisis

The main reason that we have city centre emissions hotspots is government’s own anti-car policies.

Traffic speeds have plummeted to below walking-pace (typically boosting, e,g, NOx & NO2 emissions by a factor of four times compared with free-flow levels) due to subtraction of road space to accommodate intermittently utilised bus- and cycle-lanes, traffic light phasing deliberately set to increase gating and a panoply of other ill-considered measures aimed at slowing, hindering and generally obstructing traffic flow.

All current car emissions scare-stories share a common thread: they are based on junk epidemiology studies. These seek to exaggerate any tenuous connection between (declining) urban pollution levels (or proxies for them) and predicted mortality advancements amongst a very specific target group in the general population: one subject to chronically-degraded lung-function through genetic, occupational or lifestyle choices – or combinations of all three. These studies invariably exhibit very low correlation coefficients and extremely wide levels of uncertainty / inaccuracy 2 3. Their value as predictive tools — as opposed to newspaper-selling scare-story generators — is negligible. 4

Mortality advancement episodes are invariably precipitated by two very specific weather condition scenarios: very low humidity in combination with either very high or very low temperatures. There is a much stronger correlation between mortality advancement and the frequency of such weather events than there is with urban air pollution levels.

Amid all the urban emissions hype and hysteria, the scientifically-illiterate, sensationalist media have overlooked a colossal paradox: the boroughs of Chelsea, Kensington and Westminster – which boast amongst the highest (and rising) average life expectancy (and average income) figures in the United Kingdom 5 — also have amongst the worst measured urban air pollution statistics. 6

The primary determinants of life expectancy in the UK remain income and consequent lifestyle choices. Given that UK urban air pollution has declined dramatically (and average life expectancies have steadily risen) year-on-year since the Clean Air Acts; and will continue to do so with continuing advances in technology, isn’t it time the environmental lobby and cynical, vote- / tax-rise chasing politicians laid off road users and focussed their attention elsewhere?

A recent BBC Science article reported that in Central London, only 5% of NOx comes from private diesel cars 7.
Trucks, taxis and public transport represent an even greater proportion. Public transport hubs: e.g., railway and bus stations and Thames shipping are also major contributors. However, 38% originated from commercial and domestic heating systems. Indeed, the overwhelming proportions of all the problem urban emissions: NO2, NOx, PM2.5s & PM10s arise from industry, commercial and domestic heating systems, plus “imported” emissions blown in from Europe. So unless we are prepared to adopt a BANANA strategy: Ban Anything Near Anyone Near Anywhere: stop consuming, heating our homes and workplaces, ban all industry and all travel, scientifically and economically viable alternatives must be adopted.

If politicians were really committed to improving urban air quality, they would immediately implement the five Action Points below.

  1. Most importantly of all, reverse the pernicious traffic gating-, lane-subtraction-, public transport- and cycle-prioritisation policies that have brought traffic speeds in our major cities down to a staccato mix of stationary and walking pace progress — with consequent completely avoidable adverse emissions and urban air quality effects.
  2. Invoke in the short term more targeted pursuit of the worst transport sector polluters; getting the highest emissions (mainly public transport & delivery) vehicles remediated or scrapped.
  3. Persuade heating and transport fuel manufacturers to alter their refining processes; further purifying their products, yielding cleaner-burning versions which produce lower concentrations of NO2, NOx, PM2.5s, PM10s and SOx,
  4. If, as is being constantly preached to us, the future is electric, Government must facilitate and fund the development of electric vehicles with an all-weather conditions range of between 350 and 700 miles, and a recharging time comparable to that required to refill a modern, liquid-fuelled car. Performance capabilities must also match that typically achievable by modern petrol and diesel cars.
  5. Government must also provide the infrastructure investment for all UK private dwellings to have the facility to park off-road — and recharge — at least two electric vehicles per household resident at that dwelling.

The reality is that government is only really committed to squeezing every last drop of tax revenue from road users — by fair means or (usually) foul.