A1) There are different speed limits for cars, vans, Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) and towing vehicles on different types of roads and you must not drive faster than the speed limit for the road and your type of vehicle.
Details of the national speed limits can be viewed here.
It should be noted that local councils may set their own speed limits in areas where there is a particular need. For example, there could be a 20 mph zone in a built-up area near a school or a 50 mph (rather than 60 mph) speed limit on a stretch of road with sharp bends. Local limits must be clearly signed.
A2) Speed compliance in 2020 was slightly lower than previous years, which can be partly attributed to the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on traffic levels. Previously, vehicle speed compliance has remained broadly stable from 2011 to 2019.
In 2020, 53 per cent of cars and 55 per cent of vans exceeded the speed limit on motorways in free flow conditions. 13 per cent of cars and 16 per cent of vans exceeded the speed limit by 10 mph or more in free flow conditions. Compliance with the speed limit on motorways by articulated HGVs in 2020 was very high, with only 2 per cent of vehicles exceeding the speed limit.
Across all road types in free flow conditions, the highest level of speed limit compliance for cars in 2020 was on national speed limit single carriageways with 12 per cent of cars exceeding the speed limit (60 mph). For other classes of vehicles, compliance with speed limits on this type of road is lower with 45 per cent of short buses (under 12m), 41 per cent of rigid HGVs and 35 per cent of articulated HGVs exceeding the speed limit.
56 per cent of cars and 58 per cent of vans exceeded the speed limit on 30 mph roads in free flow conditions. For the larger-sized vehicle types, there were also high levels of speed limit exceedance, with 49 per cent of rigid HGVs, 46 per cent of articulated HGVs and 29 per cent of short buses exceeding the speed limit in free flow conditions.
For 20 mph roads, the statistics come with a warning that the ‘free flow’ 20 mph sites in this data set will tend to be unrepresentative of 20 mph limits in general. With that proviso, vehicle speeds on 20mph roads in the sample show that in 2020 HGVs and short buses saw greater speed compliance than other vehicle types. Under free-flow conditions, 87 per cent of cars exceeded the speed limit at the 20mph sites; and 20 per cent exceeded the speed limit by more than 10mph.
Latest figures show that the proportion of cars exceeding the speed limit during October to December 2021 was lower than the same period in 2020 (which was affected by the coronavirus pandemic) and the same period in 2019.
In October to December 2021, 42 per cent of cars in free-flowing conditions exceeded the speed limit on motorways. On National Speed Limit (NSL) single carriageways with a car speed limit of 60mph, 9 per cent of cars exceeded the speed limit, while on 30mph roads 50 per cent of cars exceeded the speed limit.
The percentage of cars exceeding the speed limit on motorways in October to December 2021 showed a decrease when compared to the same quarter in 2020 and 2019. On NSL single carriageways the percentage of cars exceeding the speed limit was similar when compared to the same period in 2020 and 2019.
The percentage of cars exceeding the speed limit on motorways and 30mph roads was slightly lower when compared to the same period in 2020 and 2019 but remain in line with trends seen prior to the pandemic, indicating that, alongside the return of overall traffic levels to those seen before the pandemic, speed compliance activity is also in line with trends seen prior to the pandemic.
A3) The law is the law and police forces have the right to penalise anyone who is breaking the speed limit. However, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) previously quoted the following guidance from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) (now superseded by The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC)), though that guidance is no longer available either on the CPS website nor is it on the NPCC website.
The revised speed enforcement policy guidance issued by ACPO in 2013 suggests that enforcement will normally occur when a driver exceeds the speed limit by a particular margin. The particular margin is normally 10 per cent over the speed limit plus 2 mph. The guidance sets guidelines for when it would be appropriate to issue a fixed penalty notice or for the driver to attend a speed awareness course, and when it becomes appropriate to issue a summons. These are guidelines only and a police officer has discretion to act outside of them providing he acts fairly, consistently and proportionately.
In summary the guidelines are:
Speed limit: 20 mph
ACPO threshold for:
- a fixed penalty or a Speed Awareness course: 24 mph
- summoning: 35 mph
Speed limit: 30 mph
ACPO threshold for:
- a fixed penalty or a Speed Awareness course: 35 mph
- summoning: 50 mph
Speed limit: 40 mph
ACPO threshold for:
- a fixed penalty or a Speed Awareness course: 46 mph
- summoning: 66 mph
Speed limit: 50 mph
ACPO threshold for:
- a fixed penalty or a Speed Awareness course: 57 mph
- summoning: 76 mph
Speed limit: 60 mph
ACPO threshold for:
- a fixed penalty or a Speed Awareness course: 68 mph
- summoning: 86 mph
Speed limit: 70 mph
ACPO threshold for:
- a fixed penalty or a Speed Awareness course: 79 mph
- summoning: 96 mph
A4) Yes. Analysis of Home Office figures has revealed large differences between the police forces of England and Wales in the way they enforce speed limits and dispose of speeding cases, with the number of drivers being detected for speeding more than 287 times higher in some parts of England and Wales than others.
In 2020/21, 2,426,950 speeding offences were detected in England and Wales, a 6 per cent fall on the previous 12 months (although it should be noted that traffic volume fell by 26 per cent across Great Britain). Of the instances of speeding that didn’t get cancelled (see question below):
- 977,587 (40 per cent of the 2,426,950 total) were disposed of with a speed awareness course
- 762,336 (31 per cent) ended in a fixed penalty notice
- 233,080 (10 per cent) ended in court action
The analysis also shows that there continues to be large disparities between forces in the number of speeding offences detected. Whilst the Metropolitan Police (including the City of London) topped the list with 262,280 people caught speeding in 2020/21 (followed by West Yorkshire (180,432) and Greater Manchester (178,123) at the other end of the scale Wiltshire Constabulary caught only 912 people speeding, Cleveland 6,628 and Durham 8,357.
The variations across police forces are likely to include road network length, road type, traffic volume and makeup, local priorities dictated by police and crime commissioners, financial and human resources, and the availability of detection technology. In Wiltshire, for example, all speed cameras were turned off in 2010.
There are also large variations in the way offenders were punished, with the proportion of speeding offenders sent on a speed awareness course showing widespread regional variation. For example, in Wales (excluding North Wales) no offenders were sent on a speed awareness course whereas at the other end of the scale 57 per cent of offenders detected in Durham were sent on a course.
Detailed figures for all constabularies in England and Wales can be viewed here.
A5) RAC Foundation analysis of the latest government data suggests more than one in six speeding offences detected by police forces in England and Wales ended up being cancelled.
During 2020-21, a total of 2,426,950 cases of speeding were recorded by constabularies in the two countries and later reported to the Home Office. However, 404,335 (17 per cent) of these were later cancelled.
The reasons why offences go on to be cancelled is not recorded but could include:
- Faulty or incorrectly calibrated speed cameras
- Cloned vehicles carrying a false number plate
- Emergency vehicles lawfully breaking the speed limit whilst driving with blue lights
- A delay in issuing notices of intended prosecution
- A lack of resources to bring cases to court
A6) The National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme allows Chief Constables to offer eligible offenders who admit the offence of speeding an opportunity to attend a speed awareness course on the effects and dangers of speeding as an alternative to a speeding fine and penalty points.
The courses aim to influence the attitudes and behaviour of drivers by directly challenging attitudes towards speeding, to offer motorists insight, awareness and understanding about their speed choices and to help equip participants to change their behaviour.
A7) In 2021, the number of drivers that opted to attend a National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme speed awareness course rather than accept penalty points on their driving licence was 1,279,803. This is a 17.4 per cent increase over the previous year (1,089,372).
A8) No. There are big differences in what drivers can expect to pay for Speed Awareness Courses depending on where they live.
The costs of attending a Speed Awareness Course can be viewed here. The figures show that speeding motorists attending courses in Cleveland and Durham paid £73, while those attending in Humberside paid 30 per cent more (£95).
Police forces are permitted to claim a maximum of £45 from the course cost to cover fees associated with administering the courses.
A9) In a study commissioned by the Department for Transport and carried out by Ipsos MORI, it was found that targeting the behaviour of motorists through these courses reduced the likelihood of re-offending within six months by up to 23 per cent. The report also concluded that over a period of three years, taking part in the course was more effective at reducing speed re-offending than a fine and penalty points.
A10) Yes. There are a range of courses run under the auspices of the National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme.
These include Safe and Considerate Driving Courses aimed at drivers who have been involved in a collision without serious consequences, where their driving has amounted to a lapse of concentration or an error of judgement and a National Motorway Awareness Course for motorists driving on motorways, who have been detected exceeding the active variable speed limit or who have passed through a mandatory Red X lane closure signal or committed infringements occurring on hard shoulders and emergency refuge areas.
A full list of the available courses can be viewed here.
A11) Over 14.5 million road users have completed a driver retraining course since their introduction in 2010.
In 2021, about 1.5 million people accepted a place on one of the seven courses sometimes offered by police as an alternative to a fine and/or points on a licence.
A12) More than 250 miles of roads in Great Britain are now being regularly monitored by average speed cameras.
Research carried out for the RAC Foundation by Road Safety Analysis in May 2016 identified at least 50 stretches of road which are permanently managed by the cameras with a total length of 256 miles under observation. Average speed cameras are also often used on a temporary basis to manage traffic through roadworks but these are not included in this study.
The 50 stretches range in length from just a quarter of a mile over Tower Bridge in London to 99 miles on the A9 between Dunblane and Inverness in Scotland.
A13) The use of average speed cameras has been found, on average, to cut the number of crashes resulting in death or serious injury by more than a third.
Research for the RAC Foundation by Road Safety Analysis found that on average – having allowed for natural variation and overall trends – the number of fatal and serious collisions decreases by 36 per cent after average speed cameras are introduced.
The average reduction in personal injury collisions of all severities was found to be 16 per cent.
A14) In November 2010 the RAC Foundation published a report – The Effectiveness of Speed Cameras: A review of evidence – into the effectiveness of speed cameras by Professor Richard Allsop of University College London. Amongst the main findings were that national decommissioning of speed cameras could result in about 800 extra people across Britain being killed or seriously injured each year at that time.
In 2011, government instructed that speed camera data going back to 1990, detailing accident statistics before and after fixed speed cameras were installed, should be made publicly available. The RAC Foundation commissioned work, which was carried out once again by Professor Allsop, to provide advice on interpreting this speed camera data. Overall, this new work – Guidance on Use of Speed Camera Transparency Data – reinforces the conclusions in the earlier report but also identifies a number of camera sites in the vicinity of which collisions seem to have risen markedly.
Analysis of the data in this work for 551 fixed speed cameras in 9 areas shows that on average the number of fatal and serious collisions in their vicinity fell by more than a quarter (27%) after their installation.
There was also an average reduction of 15% in personal injury collisions in the vicinity of the 551 cameras.
The estimates for collision reduction were made allowing for the more general downward trend in the number of collisions in the 9 areas in recent years, and for the effect of regression to the mean at sites where collision numbers were unusually high in the period before the cameras were installed.
However the research also highlights 21 camera sites (in these areas) at which, or near which, the number of collisions appears to have risen enough to make the cameras worthy of investigation in case they have contributed to the increases.
A15) According to information published by the Press Association in November 2017, only around half of the fixed speed cameras on British roads are switched on. In Scotland, less than 29% of fixed cameras are switched on.
The Press Association sent a Freedom of Information (FoI) request to all 45 police forces in the UK and their speed camera partnership. The 36 forces which responded with data had a total 2,838 cameras, of which 1,486 were active. Nine refused to disclose the information or failed to respond.
Cleveland, Durham, North Yorkshire and Northamptonshire said none of their fixed speed cameras were active.
All of the police forces that responded to the FoI request said they regularly sent out mobile speed cameras across their jurisdictions. Figures from these cameras were not included in the disclosures.
A16) Over the past decade, the number of roads policing officers has decreased substantially. While the total number of police officers fell by around 13 per cent since 2010, the number of dedicated roads policing officers fell by 22 per cent from 5,634 to 4,355 between the years 2010 and 2014.
Since 2015, statistics appear to show the number of roads policing officers increased. However, this is not the case. In 2015 the Home Office replaced the old functions framework, meaning police functions data for 2015 and beyond cannot be compared to data collected under the old framework. Between the years 2015 and 2019, there was actually a further reduction in the number of roads policing officers of 18 per cent from 5,220 to 4,276.
In 2019, dedicated roads policing officers made up only around 4 per cent of total force strength. Furthermore, of those dedicated officers, many are often “double-hatted” – responsible for carrying out other functions within the force which often take priority.
A further briefing note by Roadpeace on the decline in roads policing officers can be viewed here.
A17) Those who break the law by driving dangerously pose a considerable threat to other road users and remain responsible for a substantial loss of life on the roads. Evidence shows that improved enforcement can significantly reduce the number of fatal and serious injuries and it is clear that there is a relationship between roads policing and road safety – more enforcement tends to improve compliance, and to reduce collisions and casualties.
Since 2010, the long-term decline in the number of road deaths and serious injuries has largely ceased. It is widely suggested that this is at least partly due to reductions in roads policing as enforcement of traffic laws – in well-targeted operations, by combinations of trained officers and technology – does indeed improve compliance and reduce casualties. As the number of dedicated roads policing officers has fallen, so too has the number of motoring offences detected, precipitously so for some offences such as failure to wear a seat belt. Only for speeding, where enforcement has largely been automated, has there been an increase.
Active roads policing can also help reduce wider crime. Evidence shows that there is an above-average likelihood that – when compared with the general population – serious motoring offenders may also be engaged in wider criminality. For example, the Motor Insurers’ Bureau records show that drivers without insurance are more likely to be involved in other crimes, and that uninsured vehicles are consistently used to conduct wider criminal activity. Disruption of the mobility of serious motoring offenders may therefore have benefits beyond road safety.
A18) Possibly. A report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue (HMICFRS) published in July 2020 concluded that roads policing and the contribution that it makes to overall road safety is a central function of the police. However, the report also found that the importance of roads policing has diminished in recent years and that there is an absence of effective strategies, both nationally and locally, resulting in an approach that is inconsistent and, in some forces, inadequate. In the light of those findings, the report made 13 recommendations designed to improve the effectiveness of roads policing in England and Wales.
In addition, the Department for Transport has instituted a roads policing review. This review is being undertaken with the Home Office, the National Police Chiefs’ Council and other agencies. The review seeks to identify which current enforcement methods work best plus how the capability and capacity of enforcement services can be enhanced.
The response of the RAC Foundation to this review can be viewed here.
A19) The latest estimates from the Motor Insurers’ Bureau are that there are around 1 million uninsured drivers on the UK roads.
A20) Analysis carried out by Churchill Insurance in 2017 shows that East London has the highest number of uninsured vehicles in the UK as a percentage of all vehicles in the area. The research shows that 13.4 per cent of vehicles in this area have no insurance. This means that if a motorist was involved in an accident with a car in this area there is a one in eight chance the other vehicle would not be insured.
Five of the top ten UK uninsured vehicle hotspots, as a percentage of vehicles in the area, are located in London. Other areas which make the top ten include Liverpool, Bradford, Manchester, Ilford and Oldham At least one in 15 vehicles in each area in these top ten uninsured vehicle hotspots is uninsured. This means drivers involved in an accident in each of these areas face the significant risk of finding the other driver has no legal or financial protection.
In absolute terms, the highest number of uninsured vehicles in the UK is estimated to be located in Birmingham. The UK’s second city is estimated to be home to 55,142 uninsured vehicles. Manchester (37,167), East London (34,436), Belfast (30,504) and Liverpool (27,364) also rank in the top five for the highest number of uninsured vehicles.
Source: Churchill Insurance
A21) You must have motor insurance to drive your vehicle on a UK road and a wide range of measures are in place to prevent and enforce against uninsured drivers.
In 2011, the Government introduced the Continuous Insurance Enforcement (CIE) rules. These rules require all vehicles to either have valid motor insurance, or if a vehicle is not being used, to be registered with a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) at the DVLA. Under the CIE scheme, the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) and DVLA work in partnership to continuously identify uninsured vehicles by systematically comparing DVLA vehicle records against motor insurance policies held on the Motor Insurance Database (MID).
The registered keeper of a vehicle that appears to be uninsured will be sent an Insurance Advisory Letter (IAL). This letter will advise them that their vehicle appears to be uninsured and that unless they take action, they will receive a penalty from the DVLA. If, after receiving an IAL, a registered keeper fails to comply with the advice set out in the letter they can face:
- A fixed penalty notice of £100
- Their vehicle being clamped, seized and disposed of
- A court prosecution and a maximum fine of £1000.
In addition, the police use Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) to identify vehicles that appear to be uninsured. If a member of the public denies that their vehicle is uninsured, a police offer can liaise with Police Helpline Agents at the MIB to confirm whether a valid insurance policy is in place. The police have the power to seize any uninsured vehicle being used on a public road. There is a £150 removal charge for cars and light vans and a £20 per day storage charge. Vehicles not reclaimed after 14 days are disposed of by the police.
The police will also give drivers a fixed penalty of £300 and 6 penalty points if they are caught driving a vehicle they are not insured to drive. Alternatively, if the case goes to court, an uninsured driver could also get an unlimited fine or be disqualified from driving and receive up to 8 points on their licence.
A22) In 2020 over 148,000 vehicles were seized across the UK because they had no insurance. This is more than the 137,000 uninsured vehicles seized across the UK in 2019.
Latest figures for 2021 (1 January to 31 October) show that over 112,000 uninsured vehicles have been seized.
Source: Motor Insurers’ Bureau
A23) As of February 2020, more than 2 million uninsured vehicles had been seized since powers to stop and seize uninsured vehicles were introduced in 2005.
Source: Motor Insurers’ Bureau
A24) A Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) is a prescribed financial penalty issued to a motorist as an alternative to prosecution. They can be issued for a limited range of motoring offences, such as speeding offences and using a hand-held mobile phone while driving. An FPN can be endorsable (accompanied by points on a driving licence) or non-endorsable (not accompanied by points on a driving licence).
In the year ending December 2020, there were 2,118,832 motoring offences (excluding 364,829 cancelled cases) in England and Wales* which resulted in a FPN being issued or another outcome such as an individual attending a driving retraining course or facing court action. This represents a decrease of 12.3 per cent compared with the previous year, the first decline since 2016. This reduction in motoring offences is likely due to a reduction in traffic volumes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions and subsequent lockdowns. (*The figures exclude the Metropolitan Police Service Area – see below)
Of the 2.1 million motoring offences recorded in 2020 which resulted in an FPN or another outcome:-
- 787,982 cases resulted in the driver receiving an endorsable FPN (37 per cent)
- 84,266 cases resulted in a non-endorsable FPN (4 per cent)
- an individual attended a driver retraining course in 946,557 cases (45 per cent) and
- 300,027 cases resulted in court action (14 per cent)
The number of endorsable FPNs issued has remained fairly stable in recent years with the data showing a slight decrease in 2020 to levels similar to 2014 and 2017 (down to around 800,000 in 2020). The number of non-endorsable FPNs had fallen year-on-year from 2011 to 2018, but there was an increase in 2019. In the latest year the number began to fall again from 98,321 in 2019 to 84,266 in 2020.
Over four-fifths (87 per cent) of the motoring offences recorded were for speed limit offences (1,843,024), down 13 per cent on the previous year (when there were 2,115,501 issued). This is the first decrease in the number of speed limit offences since 2011, with the highest level recorded in 2019. This decrease can likely be attributed to fewer persons travelling due to restrictions introduced during the COVID pandemic. The majority of ‘speed limit offences’ (96 per cent) were detected by a camera, a similar proportion as the previous year,
Despite the reduction in traffic volumes due to the pandemic in 2020, numerous offences showed an increase in detection. Careless driving offences (excluding the use of a handheld mobile phone while driving) saw one of the largest percentage increases, up by 20 per cent in 2020 compared with the previous year (from 19,795 to 23,683), the third consecutive increase since 2017. Operator’s licence offences and ‘other’ offences also increased, with operator’s licence offences doubling from 12 cases to 24, and ‘other’ offences increasing 27 per cent from 5,811 to 7,373 cases. Seat belt offences increased by 17 per cent compared with the previous year from 34,870 FPNs issued to 40,935.
In 2020 the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) adopted a new system for recording camera-detected Fixed Penalty Notices for motoring offences and the system is not directly comparable with those used for other forces. This system change is likely to affect the total number of FPNs and the way in which outcomes are recorded (especially cancelled FPNs). Therefore, direct comparisons with previous years and other forces are not possible. It is also likely that the data is not a true representation of all FPNs issued by MPS and therefore should be treated with caution. The Home Office is working with the MPS to obtain a full set of data for future publications.
In 2020, excluding cancelled cases (89,991 cases), the MPS recorded 264,485 motoring offences which resulted in an FPN or another outcome. This was an increase of 15 per cent compared with the previous year, continuing a year-on-year increase for the force since 2014. However, it is difficult to make direct comparisons to previous years due to the system change. Specifically, in 2020:
- 86,062 cases resulted in a driver receiving an FPN (33 per cent)
- an individual attended a driver retraining course in 105,983 cases (40 per cent) and
- 71,502 cases resulted in court action (27 per cent)
A25) Yes. From 16 August 2013, careless drivers who put other road users at risk by committing offences such as tailgating or poor lane discipline face on-the-spot penalties.
See the DfT Press Notice for further information.
Over the two year period from August 2013 – when this measure was introduced – until August 2015, 17,468 people have been convicted of careless driving offences. (The figures come from a Freedom of Information request by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) to every police force in England and Wales. Some 33 out of 43 police forces responded to the IAM’s request).
A26) The number of prosecutions in England and Wales for motoring offences decreased by 27 per cent from 711,000 in 2019 to 516,000 in 2020, the decrease likely to be influenced by people taking fewer car journeys during restricted movement during the pandemic. Convictions also fell by 27 per cent from 631,000 in 2019 to 463,000 in 2020 with sentencing following the same trend. Just over half (53 per cent) of prosecutions for motoring offences were for speed limit offences and vehicle insurance offences.
The majority (94 per cent) of motoring offences were dealt with by a fine in 2020, which has remained stable over the last 5 years. The average fine has steadily increased over the last 5 years, from £314 in 2016 to £341 in 2020. The overall custodial rate was 1 per cent, with an average custodial sentence length of 8.7 months which has remained stable in the latest year.
Over the last 5 years, the number of prosecutions for motoring offences which caused death or injury peaked at 914 in 2017 and steadily declined to 757 in 2020. The custody rate fluctuated between 63 per cent and 67 per cent over the last 5 years and was 67 per cent in 2020. In the latest year, the number of sentenced offenders directly disqualified for motoring offences fell by 15 per cent to 60,200. Of these offenders disqualified, 58 per cent were disqualified for more than a year. A further 317,000 offenders received points on their licence without a disqualification.
A27) In February 2022, 2,656,742 people had penalty points on the licences recorded at DVLA (out of a total number of 50,272,583 licences recorded at DVLA).
This means just over 5 per cent of drivers have points on their licences.
Source: GB Driving Licence Data
Endorsements stay on a driving record for 4 or 11 years depending on the offence. This can start from either the date a person is convicted or the date of the offence.
The endorsement is ‘valid’ for the first:-
- 3 years, for a 4-year endorsement
- 10 years, for an 11-year endorsement
Full details about penalty points (endorsements) can be viewed here.
A28) The annual Blue Badge survey, completed by local authorities in England, collates data on whether authorities have a policy for prosecuting misuse of the Blue Badge scheme and the number of prosecutions that occurred between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021.
Prosecutions for misuse of the blue badge scheme were supported by specific or general policies in 74 per cent of local authorities (110 authorities) in England. Of those without a policy, 50 per cent are planning on implementing one in the future.
In England, there were 698 reported prosecutions in the year ending March 2021, a decrease of 49 per cent compared to the previous year. The drop in prosecuted badges may relate to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on citizen behaviour, local authority enforcement practices, and availability of resources.
Of the authorities which had a policy for prosecuting, 44 per cent prosecuted individuals for misuse of Blue Badges. The remaining 56 per cent had no prosecutions despite having a policy. There were 454 prosecutions in London (65 per cent of the total number of prosecutions made in England). Similar to last year, the majority of prosecutions (97 per cent) in England were targeted at a non-badge holder using another person’s badge.
Across England, the largest number of prosecutions were made by Lambeth (119).
A29) The Department for Transport’s Statutory Guidance to local authorities on the civil enforcement of parking contraventions can be viewed here.
A30) A map and list of the local authorities outside London who have civil parking enforcement powers can be viewed here.
A31) In 2018/19, the total number of parking Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) issued by local authorities in England outside London was 4,733,068. This is about a 2 per cent increase over 2017/18 when 4,637,310 parking PCNs were issued. The number of parking PCNs appealed to the tribunal in 2018/19 was 9,020. Of these, 3,247 appeals were allowed, 3,344 refused and 2,225 not contested by the local authority.
The number of Bus Lane PCNs issued by local authorities in England outside London) in 2018/19 was 1,760,042. This is an increase of around 23 per cent compared to the 1,432,953 PCNs issued in the previous year.
In 2018/19, the total number of parking PCNs issued by local authorities in Wales was 196,008. This is a fall of about 6.8 per cent over 2017/18 when 210,269 parking PCNs were issued. The number of parking PCNs appealed to the tribunal in 2018/19 was 450. Of these, 143 appeals were allowed, 176 refused and 121 not contested by the local authority.
The number of Bus Lane PCNs issued by local authorities in Wales in 2018/19 was 88,597. This compares to the 87,741 PCNs issued in the previous year.
In addition, Welsh local authorities also issued 85,430 PCNs for moving traffic offences in 2018/19. This is an increase of around 36 per cent over the 62,734 PCNs issued in the previous year.
Full details relating to the various PCNs that were issued, and appeals made to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal, can be seen in the Appeals Data.
In 2020/21, the total number of PCNs (across the full range of traffic and parking offences) issued by London Boroughs and Transport for London was 5,289,447. This is a fall of about 14 per cent compared to the total of 6,187,220 PCNs issued in 2019/20.
A reduction in parking PCNs of 26.2 per cent was the main driver of this decrease as councils responded to the Covid-19 pandemic by changing and adapting enforcement priorities to facilitate parking for key workers. Many councils also heeded national advice by suspending enforcement in certain areas in response to changing demands for parking.
Source: London Councils
In 2020/21, 32,780 appeals against PCNs issued by London local authorities and Transport for London were received in the reporting period by the Environment and Traffic Adjudicators. 28,034 appeals were determined of which 13,161 appeals were allowed (7,161 were not contested) and 14,873 were refused.
Full details of the appeals determined by appeal type (parking, bus lane, moving traffic, London lorry control and litter and waste) can be viewed in the Annual Report.
A32) In 2018/19, 2,566,488 Dart Charge PCNs were issued by the Secretary of State for Transport for failing to pay a road user charge at the Dartford-Thurrock River Crossing scheme. This is an increase of 12.4 per cent from the 2,282,703 PCNs issued in the previous year.
The number of PCNs referred to the Tribunal for appeal from the Dart Charge scheme was 10,488. 6,311 appeals were allowed, including those not contested by the Authority.
A33) Parking debts were passed on to bailiffs by local authorities on nearly 1.1 million occasions in 2018/19 – a 21 per cent like-for-like increase on the same period in 2016/17.
Source: Money Advice Trust
A34) Possibly. The Government launched a consultation on bringing in further restrictions on pavement parking in August 2020.
Three options are being considered:
- Improving the Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) process, under which local authorities can already prohibit pavement parking.
- A legislative change to allow local authorities with civil parking enforcement powers to enforce against ‘unnecessary obstruction of the pavement’.
- A legislative change to introduce a London-style pavement parking prohibition throughout England.
The consultation closes on 22 November 2020.
A35) RAC Foundation analysis of DVLA data shows that in the last financial year (2020-21) 4.4 million sets of vehicle keeper records were released to car parking management companies. Almost all of these will have been used to send penalty charges to motorists who are deemed to have infringed parking rules in private car parks. A ticket can cost drivers up to £100.
Despite car use plummeting during the coronavirus pandemic – coronavirus restrictions saw the number of car journeys fall to as low as 22 per cent of pre-pandemic levels – companies still handed British drivers an average of 12,000 tickets every day during the 2020/21 financial year.
The total of 4.4 million tickets issued was down from the 8.4 million tickets issued in the previous 12 months.
Source: RAC Foundation
Latest figures show that drivers are being handed an average of more than 22,000 tickets every day by private parking firms.
Companies issued four million tickets to British motorists between April and September 2021, analysis of Government data by the PA news agency and the RAC Foundation has revealed. This was despite car use being more than a quarter below pre-coronavirus pandemic levels in the early part of the six-month period.
If the rate of tickets continues, the total for the financial year will come close to the record high of 8.4 million set in 2019/20.
Source: RAC Foundation
A36) Yes. There has been a substantial rise in the number of vehicle keeper records requested by car parking companies in recent years. The number of requests has risen from just over 272,00 in 2006/07 to over 8.4 million in 2019/20.
The number of requests did fall in 2020/21 but as explained above, this was because of car use plummeting during the coronavirus pandemic.
Full details of the number of vehicle keeper records requested by car parking companies made in each year going back to 2006/07 can be viewed here in the data section of our website.
A37) According to data published by the DVLA 159 companies brought vehicle-keeper records from the agency in the first three months (April, May and June) of this financial year (2020/21). This compares with 97 firms who brought vehicle-keeper records from the agency in the same period of 2016, an increase of 64 per cent.
Source: RAC Foundation
A38) Between 1 October 2020 and 30 September 2021, POPLA received 55,237 appeals.
48,716 appeals were decided. Of these, 9,939 appeals were allowed and 38,777 refused.
In addition to the appeals decided, parking operators decided not to contest 12,498 appeals. This means that of the 61,214 appeals that completed the POPLA process, 22,437 resulted in the motorist’s parking charge being cancelled – 37 per cent of all decided appeals.
Source: POPLA Annual Report 2021
A39) Since the congestion charging scheme was introduced in London in 2003, £137,782,095 of congestion charge fines have not been paid by foreign embassies. (Figures correct at 31 December 2021.)
The United States has the greatest amount of unpaid fines, owing a total of £14.230 million. They are followed by Japan (£9.742 million) and India (£8.195 million).
89 diplomatic missions owe more than £100,000 in fines and overall, 160 diplomatic missions owe fines.
Source: Transport for London
A40) Over the course of the 2020/21 financial year, 437,352 car practical driving tests were conducted. Compared to the year-ending March 2020, this was a reduction of 72.7 per cent in the number of car practical tests that were undertaken. This figure was affected by the very small number of tests conducted in Quarter 1 and Quarter 4 during the UK-wide national lockdowns in these periods, with most tests in the year-ending March 2021 taking place in Quarter 2 and Quarter 3.
The pass rate was 49.8 per cent, the highest ever seen in the pass rates statistics which began in the year ending March 2008 and was an increase of 3.9 per cent from the year ending March 2020.
Source: Driver and Riding Testing Statistics: April 2020 to March 2021 and Department for Transport Table DRT0101
A41) The driving test changed from Monday 4 December 2017 and now includes following directions from a sat nav and testing different manoeuvres.
The changes introduced include:-
- Increasing the Independent driving part of the test to 20 minutes
- Following directions from a sat nav
- Changing the reversing manoeuvres
- Answering a vehicle safety question while the candidate is driving
Full details can be viewed here.
A42) Yes. From Monday 4 June 2018, learner drivers can take driving lessons on motorways in England, Scotland and Wales. This change does not extend to learner motorcylists.
Learner drivers will need to be:-
- accompanied by an approved driving instructor
- driving a car fitted with dual controls
Full details can be viewed here.
A43) The legal alcohol limit for drivers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is:-
• 80 milligrammes (mg) of alcohol per 100 millilitres (ml) of blood (80mg/100ml), or
• 35 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 ml of breath, or
• 107 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of urine
In March 2011 the Government announced it would not be following the advice of the North Review on Drink and Drug Driving Law and reducing the current drink/drive limit from 80mg to 50mg.
The position is different in Scotland where a new legal alcohol limit was introduced on December 5 2014. Here, the limit is:-
• 50 milligrammes (mg) of alcohol per 100 millilitres (ml) of blood (50mg/100ml), or
• 22 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 ml of breath, or
• 67 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of urine
A44) Yes. The RAC Foundation is amongst a coalition of road safety charities, emergency services and health groups who have called on MPs to reduce the drink driving limit in England and Wales.
The call comes after statistics show no progress has been made on drink driving since 2010, with 240 deaths and more than 8,000 casualties reported each year.
England and Wales have one of the highest drink-drive limits in the world. Set at 80mg alcohol per 100ml blood, it is greater than the rest of Europe (with the exception only of Malta), as well as Commonwealth countries such as Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The Government of Malta announced recently plans to lower the drink-drive limit to 50mg in a new National Alcohol Policy to reduce harm.
Scotland lowered its limit to 50mg in December 2014, and police figures showed a 12.5% decrease in drink-drive offences in the first nine months. Northern Ireland is set to introduce before the end of 2018 a two-tier drink drive limit, with the general drink-drive limit down to 50mg/100ml, in line with Scotland, and an even lower limit for new and professional drivers.
A45) It is estimated that had the drink drive limit been lowered from 80 to 50mg/100ml at the beginning of 2010, then in every year between 2010 and 2013 about 25 lives would have been saved and 95 people saved from serious injury.
The estimates come from research by Professor Richard Allsop in his report Saving Lives by Lowering the Legal Drink-Drive Limit. The work was jointly commissioned by the RAC Foundation and PACTS.
A46) You could be imprisoned, banned from driving and face a fine if you’re found guilty of drink-driving. The actual penalty you get is up to the magistrates who hear your case, and depends on your offence.
Drivers who drive, or attempt to drive, while over the legal alcohol limit face penalties of:-
• up to 6 months in prison
• an unlimited fine
• a minimum of 12 months’ disqualification (3 years for a second offence within 10 years)
Full details of all the penalties that could be incurred through drink-driving can be viewed here.
A47) If you have been found guilty of a drink-drive offence and your ban is for 12 months or more, you can be offered a rehabilitation course to reduce your driving ban. The ban is usually reduced by a quarter provided the course is completed within a certain time.
Further details can be viewed here.
A48) There were 252,069 breath tests undertaken in 2020 (excluding the Metropolitan Police). When comparing the 41 forces that provided full breath test data in both 2019 and 2020, there was an 18 per cent fall compared with the previous year (from 298,522 in 2019 to 245,604 in 2020). This fall continues the downward trend seen since the peak of 703,490 breath tests in 2009 (again excluding the forces who could not provide complete data in 2019 or 2020).
In 2020, there were 47,254 positive or refused breath tests. Based on the 42 forces who supplied complete data for 2019, there was a 14 per cent decrease in the number of positive or refused breath tests in 2020 (from 53,720 to 46,392).The number of positive or refused breath tests in 2020 represents 17 per cent of the total number of breath tests, similar to the previous year.
The proportion of breath tests that were positive or refused gradually fell from 19 per cent in 2003 to 10 per cent in 2013. From 2014 to 2020 there has been a gradual increase in the proportion of breath tests that were positive or refused, from 11 per cent to 17 per cent.
A49) Yes. There are two laws that relate to drug driving. It is illegal to drive if either:
- you are unfit to do so because you’re on legal or illegal drugs
- you have certain levels of illegal drugs in your blood (even if they haven’t affected your driving)
The drug driving law was strengthened in 2015 to make it easier for the police to catch and convict drug drivers. The new offence of driving with a specific controlled drug in the body above that drug’s accepted limit was introduced as under the previous legislation it was often difficult to prove a particular drug impaired a driver’s actual driving ability.
There are now limits in place for legally driving while taking eight prescription drugs and eight illicit drugs. (Amphetamines are treated differently). The limits can be viewed here.
If you are taking prescription medicines, you can legally drive while taking these medicines in accordance with instructions from a healthcare professional or whilst sticking to recommended dosages and they do not impair your driving in any way. If you are using above the standard prescribed dosage for these medicines and driving, you could be breaking the law. If you are unsure the best thing you can do is contact your local GP.
Further information on drug driving can be viewed here.
A50) Yes, drug-drivers could be required to undertake rehabilitation courses before being allowed back behind the wheel.
There has been a recent large increase in drug-related driving offences, with over 12,000 people convicted in 2019 and 44 per cent of offences committed by reoffenders. In 2020, 713 people were seriously injured in drug-driving collisions, up from 499 in 2016, and some police forces are now arresting more drug drivers than drink-drivers.
Currently, those convicted of drug-driving are handed a driving ban, prison sentence or fine by the courts, but are not required to complete rehabilitation courses before resuming driving – unlike drink-drivers. Therefore, in a call for evidence , the government is asking whether drug-drivers should likewise have to undergo rehabilitation, helping better protect the public.
A51) Yes. It is illegal to hold a phone or sat nav while driving or riding a motorcycle.
The use of hands-free mobile phone access, such as a bluetooth headset, voice command, a dashboard holder or mat, a windscreen mount or a built-in sat nav, is permitted while driving but you must stay in full control of your vehicle at all times. The police can stop you if they think you are not in control because you are distracted and you can be prosecuted. The device must also not block your view of the road and traffic ahead.
The law still applies to you if you are:-
- stopped at traffic lights
- queuing in traffic
- supervising a learner driver
You can use a hand-held phone if either of these circumstances apply:-
- you are safely parked
- you need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop
Further information can be viewed here.
A52) Yes. From 25 March 2022 it is now illegal for motorists to use a handheld mobile phone under virtually any circumstance while driving.
This new legislation closes a legal loophole which had previously allowed drivers to escape prosecution for hand-held mobile phone use while behind the wheel. Whilst previous legislation prevented drivers from using a hand-held mobile phone to call (except in an emergency) or text, people caught filming or taking photos while driving had escaped punishment as lawyers had successfully argued this activity does not fit into the ‘interactive communication’ outlawed by the previous legislation.
The new legislation means any driver caught texting, taking photos, browsing the internet, playing games or scrolling through a playlist while behind the wheel can be prosecuted for using a hand-held mobile phone while driving. Anyone caught using their hand-held device while driving will face a fine up to £1,000 and 6 points on their licence.
There will be an exemption to the new law for drivers making a contactless payment using their mobile phone while stationary to ensure the law keeps pace with technology. This exemption will cover, for example, places like a drive-through restaurant or a road toll, and will only apply when payment is being made with a card reader. It will not allow motorists to make general online payments while driving.
Drivers will still be able to continue using a device ‘hands-free’ while driving, such as a sat-nav, if it is secured in a cradle. They must, however, always take responsibility for their driving and can be charged with an offence if the police find them not to be in proper control of their vehicle
Full details may be viewed here.
A53) The RAC Report on Motoring 2019 found that 23 per cent of all drivers – the equivalent of just under 10 million motorists – confess to making or receiving calls on a handheld phone while they are driving, at least occasionally. Among drivers aged between 17 and 24, this rate is 51 per cent.
Meanwhile, 17 per cent of all drivers – and 35 per cent of under-25s – say they check texts, email or social media while driving, despite the heightened level of risk involved in looking away from the road, even for seconds at a time.
Only a small minority of drivers (15 per cent) follow the official government advice to put their phone in their glove compartment while driving. Most people either keep their phone in a pocket or bag (45 per cent), or put it on the seat or console next to them (25 per cent).
A quarter (24 per cent) of motorists say they usually leave their phones switched on with the sound on when driving, rather than putting the device on silent or switching to some form of safe-driving mode.
A54) In 2017, 1.1 per cent of drivers were observed using a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving on weekdays in Great Britain. This compares to 1.6 per cent of all drivers observed using a mobile phone in the previous survey in 2014 in England and Scotland combined.
The rate of drivers observed using a mobile phone was higher in Scotland (2.0 per cent) than in England and Wales (0.6 per cent).
Rates of mobile phone use are slightly lower when restricting to car drivers only (1.0 per cent in Great Britain in 2017).
Drivers were more likely to be observed with a mobile phone in their hand rather than holding it to their ear. In 2017, 0.8 per cent of drivers were observed holding a phone in their hand compared with 0.4 per cent observed holding the phone to their ear.
A55) New, stronger penalties for using a hand-held mobile phone while driving were introduced in March 2017.
You can now get a fixed penalty notice carrying a penalty of a £200 fine and 6 penalty points on your licence for using a hand-held phone when driving. New drivers who have passed their test in the last 2 years will automatically lose their licence
You could also be taken to court where you could face disqualification and a fine of up to £1,000 (£2,500 if you’re driving a lorry or a bus).
You can get 3 penalty points if you do not have a full view of the road and traffic ahead or proper control of the vehicle.
See here for further details.
A56) In 2020, 14,326 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) were issued for using a hand-held mobile phone while driving. This was a fall of 39 per cent on the 23,468 FPNs issued in 2019.
There has been a yearly fall in the number of FPNs issued for this offence since 2011 when 162,412 FPNs were issued. This may reflect changing police priorities and activities, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, and may also reflect a change in driver behaviour.
A57) In 2021, there was an estimated:
- 9 per cent of vehicles (excluding motorcycles) in UK traffic that were unlicensed, up from 1.6 per cent in 2019
- 719,000 unlicensed vehicles (excluding motorcycles) in UK active stock, or 1.8 per cent of all vehicles (excluding motorcycles)
The statistics are based on the direct collection of registration plates of vehicles in traffic via a roadside survey using automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras at 267 sites in June and early July 2021.
The estimated rate of unlicensed vehicles (excluding motorcycles) observed on UK roads in 2021 when compared to 2019 is considered a statistically significant increase. The long term trend in the number of unlicensed vehicles in traffic is likely to be related to the major changes to the vehicle licensing system which took place in October 2014. These changes included the paper tax disc being abolished and the non transferability of vehicle tax when vehicles change hands.
The majority of unlicensed vehicles are in the Private and Light Goods (PLG) vehicle tax class, accounting for 89 per cent of all licensed UK vehicles. The UK evasion rate in traffic for PLG vehicles was 1.9 per cent in 2021. Rates of evasion in UK traffic were relatively low for both the goods (0.8 per cent) and bus (0.4 per cent) tax classes in 2021. Although there is no 2021 estimate for motorcycles, historically the evasion rate for motorcycles has been higher than for other tax classes. However, motorcycles only account for around 1 per cent of traffic on the road.
In 2021, there was an estimated £119 million of potential revenue loss over 1 year for the UK (around 1.8 per cent of total due), although some of this will have been recovered through DVLA enforcement activity or by vehicle keepers paying arrears of VED at a later date.
A58) Firstly, check if the vehicle is taxed before you report it.
Then make a note of the vehicle registration number, make, model and colour of the vehicle and the street name, town and postcode where the vehicle is parked. You will not be able to report the vehicle without these details.
You can then report the vehicle online. Your report is anonymous and will be investigated.
Full details can be viewed here.
A59) Yes. You must wear a seat belt if one is fitted in the seat you’re using – there are only a few exceptions.
You are also only allowed 1 person in each seat fitted with a seat belt.
You can be fined up to £500 if you do not wear a seat belt when you are supposed to.
Wearing a seatbelt saves hundreds of lives every year. You should wear a seat belt in both the front and rear seats. Wearing a seatbelt in the back is just as important as wearing one in the front of the vehicle.
The Department for Transport’s leaflet on “Seat Belt and Child Restraints” can be viewed here.
A60) In Great Britain, 96.5 per cent of all drivers were observed using a seatbelt on weekdays in 2017. This compares to 95.3 per cent of all drivers observed using a seatbelt in the previous survey in 2014 in England and Scotland combined. This rate was lower in England and Wales (96.0 per cent) than Scotland (97.3 per cent) in 2017.
In 2017, 93.1 per cent of front seat passengers and 90.7 per cent of rear seat passengers were observed using a seatbelt in Great Britain.
For car drivers, 98.6 per cent were observed using a seatbelt in Great Britain in 2017.
A61) You must make sure that any children in the vehicle you are driving are:
- in the correct car seat for their height or weight until they reach 135 cm tall or their 12th birthday, whichever is first
- wearing a seat belt if they’re over 12 or more than 135cm tall.
The Child Car Seats website has information on how to choose a seat and travel safely with children in cars.
You can be fined up to £500 if a child under 14 is not in the correct car seat or wearing a seat belt while you are driving.
The Department for Transport’s leaflet on “Seat Belt and Child Restraints” can be viewed here.