MPs confirm councils will be given the power to issue fines to drivers within months
UK mobile phone driving laws explained by the RAC
The change will see councils given the power to issue a range of driving penalties such as crossing into cycle lanes and entering yellow-box junctions. Charges could also be issued for making an illegal turn or ignoring no-entry road signs.
Under existing measures, only councils in London and Cardiff can issue fines for breaking simple laws with police dealing with other matters.
In these cities, drivers are issued up to a £70 charge for breaking even the most minor road offences.
However, the Department for Transport (DfT) is set to hand this power to councils to free up police resources.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Transport Under-Secretary Rachel Maclean confirmed the new rules would cover “enforcement” and the “level of penalties” drivers could be issued.
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She warned guidance would be given to authorities on “how to use the powers” but the scheme would still take several months to implement.
She said: “The moving traffic enforcement powers under Part 6 of the Traffic Management Act 2004 require a set of statutory instruments to be made covering enforcement, level of penalties, financial provisions, approved devices, adjudication and representations and appeals.
“This will take several months to bring into force, after which those local authorities with civil parking enforcement powers can apply for a designation order for moving traffic enforcement.
“Statutory guidance is being developed for local authorities on how to use the powers, including publicising their introduction in advance, to ensure that enforcement is carried out fairly.”
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However, the RAC has previously warned authorities in London and Cardiff raked in over £58million from picking up simple offences in one year.
A total of £58.2million was taken by the council between 2018 and 2019 according to a Freedom of Information request.
Yellow box junctions were the most lucrative bringing in over £31million in 2018/19.
Data shows the total number of council Penalty Charge Notices have increased year-on-year from 753 in 2016/17 to over one million in 2018/19.
RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes has warned there is a chance councils could use the new powers as a “revenue-raising tool”.
There is a chance councils may use the powers to their advantage to raise extra finances to fill gaps in spending.
Mr Lyes said: “While it makes sense for all local authorities to have the power to enforce problematic hotspots, there is a risk that some councils might use this as a lucrative revenue-raising tool.
“We see box junctions as a potential flashpoint.
“Drivers often feel under pressure to move out of a junction or, on particularly large yellow box junctions, find it difficult to judge when they can make it across without getting trapped.”
There are also concerns road users could be unfairly caught out for simply not understanding the new rules or how to get through some confusing roads.
RAC research also revealed 67 percent of drivers have some difficulty getting through some yellow box junctions without stopping.
A total of 32 percent said they broke the rules because so many others also did the same.
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