Very soon, motorists may face prosecution from their local councils for any minor infringements they may possibly make. If ministers grant local councils the same ‘police-powers’ that are present in London, a wide-range of minor traffic infringements could produce large fines for motorists looking to shave off a couple of seconds of their journey time. Whilst some say it will reduce the rate of careless driving as well as easing congestion, others claim that local councils are simply looking to exploit the paltry misdemeanours for extra revenue.
It’s been reported that the Department of Transport is in talks with at least 20 local councils, including Leeds, Birmingham and Southampton, about giving the local authorities the power to fine motorists for infringements such as driving in bus and cycle lanes as well as taking the wrong turns. It would come as an addition to the ability they already possess for fining those who park illegally and would put them on level with the local authorities in London who already hold the extended powers.
Outside of London, parking fees accumulate to a figure close to £330million already and with the added powers of conviction given to local authorities, an additional £50million could be generated, which leads many to believe the move is motivated by financial incentives. However, by offering punishments to those who use cycle and bus lanes, the reduction in the number of those who commit the minor crimes may indeed lead to safer roads for cyclists who won’t need to swerve out into traffic.
Motorists who feel they are being targeted, particularly after the Coalition had vowed to end the ‘war on motorists’, may also feel aggrieved that when being snapped by a police-camera for one of the various minor infringements highlighted in the proposed deal, other variables, such as the state of the junction, may not be taken into account.