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

Possible reduction in the blood-alcohol limit for driving?

This came in today:

‘Such a serious issue is always going to be handicapped by emotive language, when it should be more evidence based and the rights of people in a free society to choose the way they behave, but be safe and acceptable to the majority of others.

As you will read, The Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) supports retention of the current blood-alcohol limit of 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood. The ABD believes that the present limit is the best compromise between deterring irresponsible behaviour and penalising drivers who present a very low risk.

There is a general acceptance that most accidents involving drinking drivers occurred at blood-alcohol concentrations (BAC) above the current limit, often by a considerable margin. The logical response, therefore, should be to concentrate on better enforcement of the current law rather than changing it.

This appears to be a view that a reduction would change perceptions of what is socially acceptable, rather than confidence that a lower limit would significantly reduce casualties. It is also claimed that public opinion would support such a change. The ABD believes, however, that motoring laws should be based on sound science, not opinion polls (which are in any case subject to the way questions are asked) or attempts at social engineering.

The above study was conducted in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA and results published in 1964, It is often referred to as the Borkenstein trial, as he was the lead author.  It showed very little difference in impairment from zero to around 80mg/100ml, which then rose slowly to 90mg, after which it took off exponentially. 

This was the evidence that was used to impose the current limit. Based on the curve shown, where would you (or indeed any other rational person) have set the BAC limit?

There have been no radical changes in basic human physiology since this work was done. If it’s not broken, why do some people see a need to mend it, other than for the usual negative anti-car rhetoric?

The Borkenstein study also said “A drinker is more out of commission when the blood alcohol level is climbing than when it is falling … As the blood alcohol level drops in the elimination phase, the individual, when similarly tested, will be able to function better with the same blood alcohol content.”

Claims that drivers in the 50-80mg range are several times more likely to be involved in an accident than at zero BAC are probably based on a study which clearly started with the conclusions it wanted to draw and worked backwards to see how they could be achieved.

The North Review quotes the effects of lowering BAC limits in other countries in terms of casualty reduction. Many of those countries, however, previously had much higher levels of drunk driving than the UK, due to an absence of UK levels of enforcement and publicity. They were simply catching up with the social changes that had already happened here.

Also, it must not be assumed that a cut in the drink-drive limit would just lead to a reduction in the amount of alcohol consumed by drivers, while everything else would remain unchanged.

The likelihood is that some people would decide not to go out at all if there were a more restrictive limit and they had no alternative to driving. This could lead to reductions in traffic levels during ‘drinking hours’, with the result that there could be a fall in accidents, not because of less drink-driving, but because of less driving overall, hence less exposure to risk.

No doubt this would be hailed as a ‘success’ for the lower limit, but it would be at the cost of restricting leisure activities and less custom for certain businesses, especially rural public houses, which already are closing at a disturbing rate. A reduction in the legal limit would not be cost-free.

Testing a driver’s alcohol content is easy way to justify an accident, but does that cloud the real cause of any accident?

New Move to bring in Blanket Pavement Parking Ban

Twenty charities have jointly lobbied government for a nationwide blanket ban on pavement parking (maybe with exceptions). This is currently under review by government. Such a ban has been in place in London since 1974, where some councils have actually catered for part-pavement parking. Elsewhere councils have the power to ban in specific streets or areas via Road Traffic Orders.
A few have even adopted part-pavement parking – one in Bath has been hailed a success.
The issue is being led by claims, from the disabled in particular, that people are in danger from being forced to walk in roadway. That, of course, is unacceptable. Anyone who blocks a pavement to that extent is being selfish and deserves a penalty. What we at the ABD don’t want to see is councils getting blanket ban powers and then simply banning and wardens going on ticket issuing sprees. How much do you trust your council?
Many areas have pavements that are wider than necessary along with roads that are narrow. Blanket bans would give serious problems to the likes of delivery drivers, visiting carers, public services – and surely emergency services would be exempt? Not to mention disabled drivers.
Remember also that pavements get obstructed by many things: bus shelters, lampposts, signs – and wheelie bins which we are told to place there by those same councils who would enforce parking bans.
Where it can be done without causing obstruction pavement parking it can be sensible and considerate: cutting congestion by aiding traffic flow while increasing provision of precious parking spaces. Otherwise many residents of narrow streets might be unable to park anywhere near their homes.
The idea of marking out bays partly on pavement is widely used in many other countries – and it works, without obstructing anyone. We suggest that all that is needed on most residential streets is a minimum one-metre walkway. That’s equivalent to a double buggy or a mobility scooter. We don’t object to councils dealing with those who seriously obstruct. Therefore we oppose default blanket bans, but should it come about, urge the “middle ground” solution outlined above – with a statutory requirement for councils to provide pavement parking provision on any road where it is requested and/or achievable whilst still allowing that minimum one-metre width for pedestrian passage.

 

Parking bays marked partly on the pavement and partly on the road, in Riga, Latvia.
Parking bays marked partly on the pavement and partly on the road, in Riga, Latvia.
Parking bays marked partly on the pavement, in Passau, Germany.

Who Are the Worst Councils?

Does your local council provide free or affordable parking, good road conditions rather than roads full of potholes, and do they reduce congestion as opposed to removing road space while imposing 20-mph speed limits? This video talks about how Bristol has negatively impacted motorists in recent years: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upPBqNVIxrQ

Note that the prize competition mentioned in the video has now concluded but if you have any good examples of how your local council behaves either particularly badly or well, then please provide a note of same to the ABD so that we can publicise.

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.