RAC responds to news that councils outside London to have new road enforcement powers from December

The RAC has warned against some councils using new enforcment powers relating to moving traffic offences in an ‘over enthusiastic’ way.

Councils outside London to have new road enforcement powers from December, due to changes to moving traffic offences (such as drivers stopping in yellow box junctions).

RAC spokesman Simon Williams 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. For example, large yellow box junctions can be particularly problematic to get across without stopping, often due to their design, so it’s important common sense is applied rather than instantly issuing penalties to drivers. The first thing councils should do is review the road layout at these junctions to make sure drivers can negotiate them at all times, but especially at busy periods.

“We also feel it’s vital councils closely monitor the number of penalty charge notices issued from December, as very high volumes in one particular location is likely to indicate something is wrong, either with signage or the design of the road. In these circumstances, we feel it would be wrong for drivers to have to pay up. More broadly, there’s a good argument for authorities to issue warning letters in the first instance rather than fines. We also believe drivers should be able to appeal easily if, for example, they receive a penalty for slightly moving into a yellow box to allow an emergency vehicle through.”

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