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Councils across the UK are due to have even more power to fine motorists over “minor” mistakes such as wrong turns and stopping in box junctions. Making such misdemeanours in London, where local authorities are already able to hand out fines, can cost a driver £130 for a single offence.
From Wednesday, December 1, councils will be able to fine motorists £70 for “moving traffic offences” including banned turns and driving in cycle lanes.
This change to council’s powers gives them the authority to hand out fines rather than this being the preserve of the police.
Almost 300 councils around the UK can now follow the example of London and Cardiff, who already have the power to fine motorists for driving misdemeanours.
In some boroughs of London, fines can rise to an eye-watering £130.
Research from RAC found authorities in London and Cardiff raked in almost £60 million in revenue from traffic offences in the year 2018-19.
This is bound to be an attractive prospect for councils.
The “minor offences” are what’s known as “moving traffic” offences.
“Moving traffic” offences include stopping in a yellow box junction.
In Fulham, West London, where local authorities already have the power to fine for moving traffic offences, just one yellow box junction earns the council around £1.7 million in fines each year.
While the regulations should be laid out on Wednesday, they are not likely to be enforced until 2022.
Councils will have to apply to use the new powers.
Moving traffic offences include:
- Banned right or left turns
- Driving in a “no entry” zone
- Stopping in a box junction
- Driving the wrong way on a one-way street
- Illegal U-turns
- Driving in cycle lanes
- Failing to give way to oncoming traffic
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Speaking about the incoming changes at a Traffex event, transport minister Baroness Vere said: “Local authorities will need the tools to manage roads in the way that best serves local needs, which may vary in different parts of the country, and it is this ethos of localism that lies behind our decision to give more powers to local authorities under the Traffic Management Act.
“They will be expected to use these powers to improve connectivity, boost active travel, and increase air quality by reducing congestion.”
RAC spokesman Simon Williams raised concerns over the planned changes.
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 its 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.”
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