Monday, 3 November 2014

Foreign drivers escape speed fines . . .


Foreign drivers escape speed fines

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Foreign drivers are escaping speeding fines, figures have revealed

Foreign drivers have escaped £2.3 million in speeding fines because their vehicles are not registered with the DVLA, figures have revealed.

Speed cameras have registered 23,295 offences being committed by overseas drivers since January last year, which have not been pursued by police, according to road safety charity the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM).

The figures were released following a freedom of information (FOI) request to police authorities in England and Wales.

Thames Valley recorded the highest number of offences with 3,580 drivers caught speeding, the IAM said.

This was followed by Merseyside with 2,477, Warwickshire whose cameras registered 2,152 offences, Gwent with 2,090 and Kent recorded 1,954 speeding offences committed by foreign drivers.

In Kent, one foreign motorist was caught travelling at 111mph on the M25, while a camera on the A3 Hook Road in Surrey recorded a driver travelling at 109mph in a 50mph zone, an IAM spokesman said.

The Metropolitan Police area, covering 32 London boroughs, came in at sixth place with 1,586 offences taking place across the Greater London area, with the worst offence recorded on the A406 North Circular Road, southbound, when a driver was caught travelling 98mph in a 50mph zone.

Neil Greig, IAM's director of policy and research, said: "The high numbers of overseas speeders on our roads show how important it is that the UK joins up with the rest of Europe to harmonise motoring offences and give the police extra powers to pursue dangerous drivers.

"Progress on this issue has been very slow and in the meantime thousands of drivers are avoiding fines and bans simply because their cars cannot be easily traced."

Although the FOI request was made to 40 police authorities across England and Wales, only 23 supplied results.

Those which did not reply included Avon and Somerset, Cleveland, Essex, Lincolnshire, West Yorkshire and Wiltshire.

In May, the European Court changed the basis of the EU directive on cross border enforcement so that the UK could no longer opt out.

It covers mutual access to information to trace vehicle owners involved in eight road safety offences - speeding, seat belt use, driving through red traffic lights, drink driving, drug driving, helmet use, use of forbidden lanes and mobile phone use.

Detailed negotiations are now under way at European level to implement the changes but a date for the UK has not been set, according to IAM.

Tim Shallcross, head of technical policy for IAM, said a change in the law would not only tackle the problem of drivers of foreign vehicles escaping speeding fines but it would also act as a deterrent.

A car from another country does not have to be registered with the DVLA unless it has been in the UK for more than six months, he said.

He said: "We want to clamp down on people who are flouting our road safety laws knowing that they are not going to be traced.

"We believe that most foreign drivers do drive sensibly but we want to clamp down on the tiny minority who are not."

Edmund King, AA President, said: "It is worrying that so many drivers from overseas feel that they can speed through the UK with impunity.

"Police do have the powers to stop and sanction drivers of vehicles with foreign plates if they are breaking the law.

"We would like to see some proactive targeting of these dangerous drivers.

"The figures come as no surprise as we don't yet have cross border enforcement using the EU nation's vehicle registers.

"This may change if a revised directive succeeds in the EU (in 2015) - the UK opted out of the previous one along with Denmark and Ireland but will be forced to take part in the next one."

Mr King said this would be ideal for the UK as it would allow it to send speeding penalties to the EC vehicle keepers.

He said: "Of course, the police can physically stop a foreign registered vehicle which is breaking UK law and charge a financial deposit (on the spot fine) but of course we now have fewer traffic police and place greater reliance on cameras.

"The problem with cross border enforcement is it could become just a money-related system (financial penalty) which won't in itself help road safety as licence endorsements are also needed to change attitudes."

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