Blog

Press Release: Government Entirely Responsible for Urban Vehicle Emissions Issues

 

Why, after over four-and-a-half decades of dramatically declining vehicle emissions (typically having fallen by some 70%; see Fig.1 below ), do we have urban vehicle emissions hotspots that ostensibly require urgent remedial action?

Answer: The emissions hotspots are entirely the fault of successive central and local governments of various political complexions: incompetently enacted transport policy implemented by apparently even more incompetent urban transport planners.

Decades of installing only intermittently-used bus-/ taxi-, and cycle-only lanes, pinch-points, asynchronous traffic-light phasing, speed ramps, 20mph zones, other speed limit reductions and private vehicle lane-subtraction schemes have choked average city-centre traffic speeds down to little over 10mph (16km/h).

At these low traffic speeds, NOx, NO2 and the other vehicle emissions ramp up precipitately to over four times those observed at steady, free-flow speeds of 30mph (50km/h) or above (see Fig.2 below).

So what has been the cumulative effect of some two decades of this ill-conceived, social-engineering-inspired, anti-car, traffic hindering central and local government policy?

Answer: To utterly negate over forty years of improvements in vehicle emissions abatement technology.

Another “triumph” of knee-jerk policy implementation over superior technological solutions.

If politicians are really committed to improving urban air quality – as opposed to merely looking to engineer yet another opportunity to financially exploit hard-pressed drivers, they will implement the five Action Plan Points below.

If you are fed up with being used as local and central government’s tame cash-cow, write to your MP (see: https://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/) and demand that central and local government’s urban road transport policies be formulated around these key action points:

  1. Firstly, 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. In the short-term, invoke a more targeted pursuit of the worst transport sector polluters; getting the highest emissions (mainly delivery, public transport vehicles and diesel rail transport) remediated or scrapped and replaced.
  3. Convince domestic 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 the development of electric vehicles with an all-weather conditions range of at least 350 to 700 miles, and a recharging time comparable to that required to refill a modern, liquid-fuelled car. To be market-competitive, their performance capabilities will also need to be comparable to those typically achievable by modern petrol and diesel cars.
  5. Government must also provide the infrastructure investment for all UK private dwellings – including apartment blocks – to have the facility to park off-road, and recharge at least two electric vehicles per household resident at that dwelling.AND FINALLY:
  6. Write to the local Council Leader (in whatever is the town or city in which you live) and invite him – and his equally culpable transport “planners” – to stand down forthwith, and give way to scientifically-literate successors who know what they are doing.

References:

  1. Emissions time-series figure reproduced with permission from a Local Transport Today article authored by Mr. P. Dobson (LTT726; 07-20/07/2017, p.20).
  2.  London average traffic speed was recently reported to be 11mph (roughly 18km/h). See e.g., http://www.thisislocallondon.co.uk/news/804876.london_cars_move_no_faster_than_chickens/
  3.  See e.g., “London Exhaust Emissions Study – Developing a test programme and analysis of emissions data from passenger cars in London”, Transport for London.

Press Release: Revenue Generation trumps Road Safety – Again!

It has recently been announced [Ref.1] that the outdated and discredited 70mph motorway speed limit is now to be rigidly applied on so-called “managed”, or “smart” stretches of the M1 motorway in Yorkshire and Derbyshire.

Never mind – as the two most recent ABD Press Releases [Ref. 2, 3.] have unequivocally established, that speed is NOT the cause of high speed accidents, but rather the consequence of alcohol/substance-abuse, induced impairment and/or criminal behaviour.

The fact is that there are virtually no sober, responsible drivers involved in road traffic accidents where their speed is the primary definite causation factor and they are the perpetrator. Inattention and poor observation are always the table-topping primary causation factors.

Nevertheless, the glib, groundless and pathetically inaccurate “Speed Kills” myth is trotted out by jobs-worth so-called “road safety professionals” – whose livelihoods are increasingly speed enforcement incentivised. It is used to legitimise ever more unreasonable, unrealistic – and in road safety terms – counterproductive enforcement of very often seriously under-posted speed limits. These are frequently set in complete contravention of sound (85th Percentile) road safety principles.

Even those clinging to the vacuously naïve misapprehension that speed enforcement was only carried out to improve road safety must by now have worked out that it’s all about the money – increasingly arising from ballooning Speed Awareness course attendance fees.

The ABD therefore demands that the motorway speed limit be brought into the 21st century by setting it at 80mph – (with the retention of the [+10% + 2] mph NPCC tolerance).

Given that some 97% of road traffic accidents are NOT caused by speed limit infractions, what we also really need is more police patrol vehicles on the lookout for bad/ erratic driving. What we definitely don’t need is more dumbed-down limits, patently dumb (but highly lucrative) and ineffective speed awareness courses and the unjustified electronic fleecing of road users.

Such welcome developments are unlikely to happen while the neither the DfT nor the Home Office can be considered fit-for-purpose with respect to the development and implementation of effective road safety policies.

The creation of an independent, objective, state-funded Road Accident Investigation and Prevention Board is long overdue. Run and manned along the lines of the marine and aviation counterparts; this body would investigate the causes of road accidents, formulate and implement effective road safety policies and regulate UK speed enforcement operations via mandatory rules, not worthless “guidelines”.

Contemporaneously, there must be a removal of all incentives that encourage speed enforcement for revenue generation. There must also be total financial segregation between those involved in speed enforcement operations and any revenue streams arising from the prosecution or rehabilitation of speed limit offenders. The involvement of private limited companies currently active in road safety policy formulation and implementation must be terminated forthwith. These bodies must then be replaced with transparent, wholly publicly accountable bodies; responsive to public concerns about the unregulated use of power.

References:

1. https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/motorists-will-be-fined-for-driving-above-70mph-on-smart-m1-in-yorkshire-1-8981116

2. http://www.abd.org.uk/speed-enforcement-needs-firm-regulation/

3. http://www.abd.org.uk/the-hidden-truth-behind-statistics-used-to-justify-speed-enforcement-priorities/

Road traffic accidents where inappropriately excessive and illegal speed are definite primary causation factors have perpetrators who are also invariably grossly alcohol- and/ or substance-impaired. They are often also contemporaneously involved in other criminal behaviour, such as escaping from a crime scene, property or vehicle theft – or even road racing.

The Real Reason for the ULEZ in London – It’s About Money

The Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) has said before that we are suspicious about the reasons given for the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in London. The proposed measures, particularly the extension to within the North/South Circular, seemed disproportionate to the likely benefits from reductions in air pollution. This is particularly so, bearing in mind that emissions from vehicles are rapidly falling, as newer vehicles replace older ones.

Now we know the truth!

In April 2017 we asked for information on the financial budgets for the ULEZ – the likely costs and income the Mayor would get. The request was refused and we eventually had to appeal to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). We have now received the requested data following a judgement in our favour. These are the figures received from Transport for London (TfL):

  • Implementation costs: £38.4 million.

  • Operating income and costs:

Impact of introduction of ULEZ on income (£m) over 5 years 2017/18 to 2021/22 inclusive. (+ve is net increase in income): £55.3 million.

Impact of introduction of ULEZ on costs (£m) over 5 years 2017/18 to 2021/22 inclusive. (-ve is net increase in costs): -£12.7 million.

But these figures make absolutely no sense as against the figures we have calculated for operating income based on data provided in the ULEZ consultation documents. For example we estimate income over five years as being £313.6 million rather than £55.3 million.

In reality TfL may be making a profit over five years of £300.9 million for a capital investment of £38.4 million. At a stroke Sadiq Khan will solve his budget problems with the ULEZ implemented.

The Mayor has great financial difficulties, as is apparent from his recently published budget for the next few years, where he begs for more financial support from central Government. But he surely will not need their support with this scheme in place, even though he does not have the funds to do it without more borrowing.

Just like the central London Congestion Charge (a.k.a. Tax), where charges were later raised (more than doubled), thus making it a very profitable for TfL, once the infrastructure, such as cameras are in place for the ULEZ, charges can then be raised. The scheme can also be extended way past when traffic air pollution ceases to be a problem, thus potentially introducing more general road pricing.

Will the health benefits outweigh the costs of the scheme to Londoners? The answer is no because they are only valued at £7.1 million over 5 years. This duplicity in justifying the ULEZ on health grounds, which few are likely to oppose, when the real reason may be to fund his empire, is surely typical of Mayor Sadiq Khan’s approach to politics and democracy. Who does not want cleaner air? But there are lots of ways to improve air quality from transport and other sources, without imposing such enormous costs on road users.

To remind readers, the ULEZ charge for non-compliant cars will be £12.50, imposed 24/7, and enormous numbers of people will need to buy new cars to avoid this cost.

Readers should make sure they oppose the extension of the ULEZ by responding to this public consultation before the 28th February: https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/environment/air-quality-consultation-phase-3b/?cid=airquality-consultation

More Information:

Our full analysis of the costs and benefits of the ULEZ are contained in this document: http://www.freedomfordrivers.org/Cost-of-the-ULEZ.pdf

The ULEZ proposals are part of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy which the ABD is vigorously campaigning against – see this web page for more information: http://www.freedomfordrivers.org/against-mts.htm

The unnecessary delays and obstruction by TfL in responding to the ABD’s reasonable request for information on ULEZ costs is documented in this blog post: https://abdlondon.wordpress.com/2018/01/09/press-release-tfl-forced-to-disclose-ulez-costs/

Our views on the ULEZ proposals and how the Mayor is scaring Londoner’s unnecessarily about air pollution and health are documented here: https://abdlondon.wordpress.com/2017/11/30/panicking-londoners-consultation-on-ulez-extension/

For more information on this issue, contact Roger Lawson on 020-8295-0378.

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 France. From 1st July 2018 the speed limit on single carriageway roads will be downgraded from the current 90kph to 80kph (50mph).

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