Huge driving law changes coming this month that will make drivers a target for fines

What changes are being made to the Highway Code?

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A new law is set to be introduced across England and Wales that will give local councils the power to issue fines for several traffic offences. As of now, those offences can only be enforced by the police and local authorities in London and Cardiff.

This, however, is changing on May 31.

From the end of May onwards, local authorities across England and Wales will have the power to issue Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) for offences such as driving through no-vehicle entry points and stopping in yellow boxes at junctions and bus lanes.

If a motorist is caught by the CCTV they will be sent a fine of up to £70 through the post.

Other offences to look out for include making illegal turns and U-turns.

The measures are supposed to make roads safer for cyclists and help buses be more punctual, according to the Department for Transport.

It is estimated that around 300 local councils will be able to apply for the power to issue fines for certain offences from June 1 onwards.

It has been previously suggested by experts that the new measures could lead to an “avalanche” of PCNs for motorists.

Some experts are also concerned that money-stricken councils could use the powers for their financial benefit.

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RAC spokesman Simon Williams previously said: “It’s right that councils outside London have the ability to enforce known rule-breaking hotspots, but we’re fearful that some authorities may be over-enthusiastic in using their new powers for revenue-raising reasons, to the detriment of drivers.

“While the Government has pledged to give councils advice on how best to let drivers know enforcement is taking place, what’s really needed is clear guidance on making sure enforcement is always carried out fairly.

“Drivers who blatantly ignore signage or highway rules should expect penalties, but there are instances which are not always clear-cut.”

The RAC also called on the Government to improve its official design, maintenance, and enforcement guidance to avoid thousands of drivers from being wrongly fined.

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Nicholas Lyes, head of roads policy for the RAC, said: “In the absence of definitive guidance on the design, maintenance and enforcement of box junctions there will be a high degree of confusion among drivers and local authorities.

“[This] could lead to an avalanche of penalty charge notices being wrongly issued and then having to be appealed.

“This will inevitably lead to an unnecessarily high number of appeals for local authorities to review, as well as some poor outcomes for drivers.

“We are worried that failing to update guidance to include the lessons learnt from more than 15 years of enforcement in London will lead to countless wrong fines being issued, no end of unnecessary stress for drivers who feel they have been unfairly treated and thousands of wasted council hours investigating appeals.”

To date, only local authorities in London and Cardiff – and elsewhere the police – have had the power to issue penalty charge notices for these infringements.

On Transport for London’s red routes, drivers can be handed fines of £160, which is reduced to £80 if paid within 14 days.

An investigation by the RAC in 2020 found that London and Cardiff raked in £31.4million in the 2018/19 financial year after issuing more than half a million PCNs for yellow box infringements.

A DfT spokeswoman said: “These new powers are designed to improve cycle safety, air quality, and support of bus services.

“It’s for local authorities to enforce them and ensure they meet local needs.”

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