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) Overall, speed limit compliance in 2022 was slightly higher than 2021, where lower levels of compliance may be partly attributed to the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on lower traffic levels. However, vehicle speed limit compliance in 2022 has remained broadly similar when compared to vehicle speed limit compliance levels between 2011 and 2019.These years were not affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
In 2022, 45 per cent of cars and 48 per cent of vans exceeded the speed limit on motorways in free flow conditions. 8 per cent of cars and 11 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 2022 was very high, with only 2 per cent of vehicles exceeding the speed limit. The low percentage of articulated HGVs exceeding the speed limit on motorways can be attributed to legislation requiring all HGVs over 3.5 tonnes to be fitted with speed limiters to 56mph.
Across all road types in free flow conditions, the highest level of speed limit compliance for cars in 2022 was on national speed limit single carriageways with 11 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 47 per cent of short buses (under 12m), 41 per cent of rigid HGVs and 35 per cent of articulated HGVs exceeding the speed limit. (Statistics on van compliance are not collated on national speed limit single carriageways.)
50 per cent of cars and 51 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 42 per cent of rigid HGVs and 39 per cent of articulated HGVs 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, under free-flow conditions, 85 per cent of cars exceeded the speed limit at the 20mph sites; and 16 per cent exceeded the speed limit by more than 10mph.
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 275 times higher in some parts of England and Wales than others.
In 2021, 2,854,757 speeding offences were detected in England and Wales, an 18 per cent increase on the 2,424,882 figure for the previous 12 months. Of the instances of speeding that did not get cancelled (see question below):-
- 1,225,147 (42.9 per cent of the 2,854,757 total) were disposed of with a speed awareness course
- 853,811 (29.9 per cent) ended in a fixed penalty notice
- 290,239 (10.2 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 385,349 people caught speeding in 2021 (followed by West Yorkshire (226,285) and Avon (166,781) at the other end of the scale Wiltshire Constabulary caught only 1,397 people speeding, Cleveland 15,519 and North Wales 18,958.
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) only 165 offenders (0.4 per cent) were sent on a speed awareness course whereas at the other end of the scale 62 per cent of offenders detected in South Yorkshire 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 2021, a total of 2,854,757 cases of speeding were recorded by constabularies in the two countries and later reported to the Home Office. However, 476,384 (16.7 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 2022, 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 1,478,444. This is a 15.5 per cent increase over the previous year (1,279,803) and is the highest yearly number ever.
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 show that speeding motorists attending courses in Cleveland and Durham paid £73, while those attending in Humberside paid 30 per cent more (£95). (These are the latest available figures. Updated figures are in the course of compilation. In the meantime, anyone wishing to know the very latest figures can use this link to contact a provider and ask for the cost – www.ukroed.org.uk/faqs/course-provider-contact-list-november-2022/
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 16.3 million road users have completed a driver retraining course since their introduction in 2010.
In 2022, about 1.76 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) 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.
A15) Confused.com sent a Freedom of Information request to all 46 police forces regarding the number of intended prosecutions for speeding offences captured by cameras in their areas. Some 36 forces responded with figures.
According to the data provided, cameras on the 40mph stretch of the A40 in North-West London between Long Drive and Welland Gardens caught the highest number of people speeding. These cameras on the stretch of the road heading into the capital caught 49,050 speeding drivers in the last financial year according to the Metropolitan Police.
Cameras on the M25 in Surrey and the M4 near Bristol were the next highest locations where motorists were caught speeding.
The top 10 sections of road where drivers were most commonly caught speeding can be viewed here.
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) Ranked by postcodes, Birmingham has the highest levels of uninsured drivers with seven Birmingham post codes appearing in the top 10 of uninsured drivers. Other areas which make the top ten include Purfleet, Smethwick and Manchester.
Full details can be viewed here.
Source: Motor Insurers’ Bureau
In addition, the Motor Insurers’ Bureau also released figures in March 2023 that set out London’s top 20 postal hotspots for uninsured driving. Enfield, Barking and Dagenham and Havering were named as the worst three London boroughs for the issue
The insight also revealed London has the highest number of uninsured drivers in the country, with nearly one fifth of offenders residing in the capital.
Full details can be viewed here.
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) According to information supplied by the Motor Insurers’ Bureau, 123,443 vehicles were seized across the UK because they had no insurance in 2022. This is a small decrease compared to the 132,000 uninsured vehicles seized across the UK in 2021.
A23) According to information supplied by the Motor Insurers’ Bureau, a total of 2,397,443 uninsured vehicles have been seized since powers to stop and seize uninsured vehicles were introduced in 2005.
A24) A Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) is a prescribed financial penalty which may be 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 2021, there were 2,779,789 motoring offences (excluding 527,021 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 is an increase of 17.2 per cent compared with the previous year, and a 5.1 per cent increase on 2019 (pre-pandemic levels). (NOTE: See Section 5.1 of the document below for information on how the data has been compiled).
Of the 2.8 million motoring offences recorded in 2021 which resulted in an FPN or another outcome:-
- 921,777 cases resulted in the driver receiving an endorsable FPN (33 per cent)
- 135,238 cases resulted in a non-endorsable FPN (5 per cent)
- an individual attended a driver retraining course in 1,312,195 cases (47 per cent)
- 410,579 cases resulted in court action (15 per cent)
The number of endorsable FPNs issued remained fairly stable between 2014 and 2019 but following a decline in 2020 (to 820,383 during the pandemic) the data showed an increase in 2021 (to 921,777) similar to 2013 levels (921,447). The number of non-endorsable FPNs had fallen year-on-year from 2011 to 2017 but has been increasing since 2018, with the exception of a fall in 2020 likely due to the pandemic. In the latest year the number began to increase again from 126,592 in 2019 and 115,097 in 2020 to 135,238 in 2021.
Over four-fifths (86 per cent) of the motoring offences recorded on PentiP were for speed limit offences (2,378,373), up 19 per cent on the previous year (when there were 2,006,382 issued) and 6 per cent on 2019 (where there were 2,253,948 issued in the year prior to the pandemic). Other than a decline in 2020, likely due to the pandemic, the number of speed limit offences has increased in every year since 2011. The majority of ‘speed limit offences’ (96 per cent) were detected by a camera, a similar proportion as the previous year.
Following the reported reduction in traffic volumes due to the pandemic in 2020, the majority of offences have shown an increase in detection in 2021. Careless driving offences (excluding the use of a handheld mobile phone while driving) saw one of the largest percentage increases, up by 39 per cent in 2021 compared with the previous year (from 30,183 to 42,061), and up 71 per cent on 2019 (pre-pandemic). This is the fourth consecutive increase for this offence since 2017.
Obstruction, waiting and parking offences and licence, insurance and record keeping offences were the only two offence types that saw a decline in the latest year (falling 24 per cent and 3 per cent respectively). However, whilst licence, insurance and record keeping offences may have declined compared to the previous year, they are 9 per cent higher than levels seen in 2019 (pre-pandemic) increasing from 102,239 cases in 2019 to 111,397 cases in the most recent year. Neglect of traffic signs and directions and of pedestrian rights offences increased 15 per cent on the previous year (from 68,524 in 2020 to 79,088 in 2021). However, despite this increase, levels of this offence type are well below pre-pandemic levels when there were around 100,000 offences per year (92,819 cases in 2019).
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 for motoring offences in England and Wales increased by 12 per cent from 632,000 in 2021 to 711,000 in 2022, returning to the level seen pre-pandemic in 2019. Convictions increased by 14 per cent in the latest year, from 556,000 in 2021 to 642,000 in 2022, with sentencing following the same trend.
This increase in motoring offences is driven in part by an increase in speed limit offences and vehicle insurance offences, which remained the most common motoring offences, accounting for 53 per cent of all motoring prosecutions in 2022. Prosecutions for speed limit offences increased by 18 per cent in the latest year, from 208,000 in 2021 to 245,000 in 2022, this is a 22 per cent increase when compared to pre-pandemic in 2019.
Prosecutions for motoring offences which caused death declined by 19 per cent in the latest year, from 419 in 2021 to 340 in 2022. The custody rate for these offences fluctuated between 55 per cent and 67 per cent over the last 5 years and was 60 per cent in 2022.
95 per cent of motoring offences were dealt with by a fine in 2022. The average fine for motoring offences decreased from £341 in 2021 to £326 in 2022. The overall custody rate was 1 per cent, with an average custodial sentence length of 8.3 months, which was a decrease of 0.5 months compared to 2021.
The number of sentenced offenders directly disqualified for motoring offences decreased by 4 per cent in the latest year, from 79,000 in 2021 to 76,000 in 2022. Of these offenders disqualified, 60 per cent were disqualified for more than a year. A further 422,000 offenders received points on their licence without a disqualification; a 10 per cent increase compared to 2021, and a 22 per cent increase compared to 2019.
A27) In May 2023, 2,760,996 people had penalty points on the licences recorded at DVLA (out of a total number of 51,336,794 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).
[NOTE: This statistic was not updated in the Department for Transport’s Disability, accessibility and Blue Badge Statistics: 2021 to 2022]
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 2020/21, the total number of parking Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) issued by local authorities in England outside London was 3,074,674. The number of parking PCNs appealed to the tribunal in 2020/21 was 6,194. Of these, 2,330 appeals were allowed, 1,925 refused and 1,658 not contested by the local authority.
The number of Bus Lane PCNs issued by local authorities in England outside London in 2020/21 was 1,207,631.
In 2020/21, the total number of parking PCNs issued by local authorities in Wales was 105,128. The number of parking PCNs appealed to the tribunal in 2020/21 was 439. Of these, 169 appeals were allowed, 159 refused and 92 not contested by the local authority.
The number of Bus Lane PCNs issued by local authorities in Wales in 2020/21 was 21,259. In addition, Welsh local authorities also issued 47,470 PCNs for moving traffic offences in 2020/21.
The number of PCNs issued in all categories above were substantially lower than in the previous year because of the national travel restrictions imposed from March 2020 onwards as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and guidance to local authorities advising that the majority of enforcement activity, and especially that relating to lower level contraventions, should cease during the lock down period.
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 2021/22, the total number of PCNs issued by the London boroughs, London Lorry Control Scheme and Transport for London (across the full range of parking, bus lane and moving traffic regulations) was 7,472,886. This represents a 41.3 per cent increase in PCNs issued from 2020-21, as traffic flows and parking demand increased after the pandemic, and enforcement authorities in London recommenced their enforcement operations in all areas.
It should be noted that due to reduced enforcement activity during the height of the pandemic in 2020-21, those figures are not overly representative. With respect to pre-pandemic figures (from 2019-20), this shows an overall increase of 21.4% of PCNs issued.
Source: London Councils
In 2021/22, 45,722 appeals against PCNs issued in London were received in the reporting period by the Environment and Traffic Adjudicators. 42,256 appeals were determined of which 18,131 appeals were allowed (9,200 were not contested) and 24,125 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 2020/21, 1,671,267 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.
The number of PCNs referred to the Tribunal for appeal from the Dart Charge scheme was 6,084. 18 appeals were allowed, 484 refused and 3,184 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 closed on 22 November 2020.
A35) A record number of vehicle keeper records were bought by private companies in 2021-22. Government data shows that the DVLA provided firms with 8,564,762 vehicle keeper records in 2021-22, the equivalent of roughly 23,000 every day.
The information is used to pursue drivers for penalties of up to £100 a time for supposed infringements of the rules in privately run car parks like those found at shopping centres, leisure facilities and motorway service areas.
This is more than the previous record of 8,411,897 million seen in 2019-20 which was pre-pandemic, and an increase of more than 50 per cent compared with four years earlier.
Source: RAC Foundation
Latest figures from the DVLA suggests drivers are set to receive more than 11 million penalties in private car parks in financial year 2022-23. This would be yet another high in the number of penalties issued.
Already, in the first three quarters of the year, 8,564,762 vehicle keeper records have been bought by the companies from the DVLA.
Between July and December 2022, parking firms issued around 5.64 million penalties, a 24 per cent rise on the 4,554,378 issued in the same period in 2021.
That is an average of roughly 31,000 every day.
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 8.5 million in 2021/22.
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) Some 177 parking management businesses requested car owner records in the year to the end of March 2022, up from 151 during the previous 12 months. This also compares with 97 firms who brought vehicle-keeper records from DVLA in 2016/17.
ParkingEye was the biggest buyer in 2021/22 with 1.8 million records.
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, £143,152,493 of congestion charge fines have not been paid by foreign embassies. (Figures correct at 31 March 2023.)
The United States has the greatest amount of unpaid fines, owing a total of £14.644 million. They are followed by Japan (£10.049 million) and India (£8.548 million).
87 diplomatic missions owe more than £100,000 in fines and overall, 159 diplomatic missions owe fines.
Source: Transport for London
A40) Over the course of the 2022/23 financial year, 1,688,955 car practical driving tests were conducted in Great Britain. Compared to the year-ending March 2022, this was an increase of 10 per cent on the 1,538,314 car practical tests that were undertaken in the previous year.
The pass rate was 48.4 per cent, slightly down on the previous year’s 48.9 per cent.
Full details on the numbers and pass rates for all driving and riding theory and practical tests can be viewed in the source document.
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 224,162 breath tests carried out by police in 2021, a 7 per cent fall compared with the previous year (when comparing data for 40 forces who were able to provide full data in both years). Additionally, the level of breath tests in 2021 was 23 per cent below the number in 2019 (291,326). This fall continues the downward trend seen since the peak of 709,512 breath tests in 2009.
In 2021, there were 40,861 positive or refused breath tests. Based on the 41 forces who supplied complete data for 2020 and 2021, there was an 8 per cent decrease in the number of positive or refused breath tests in 2021 (from 44,348 to 40,861).
The number of positive or refused breath tests in 2021 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 10 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) On weekdays in 2021:-
- in Great Britain, 1.0 per cent of drivers were observed using a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving, with 0.6 per cent observed holding the phone to their ear and 0.4 per cent holding the phone in their hand
- in England and Wales, 1.0 per cent of drivers were observed using a mobile phone whilst driving (to ear or in hand), compared to 0.9 per cent of drivers in Scotland
- in Great Britain, 1.9 per cent of van drivers were observed using a mobile phone whilst driving, compared to 0.8 per cent of car drivers
- males, and drivers estimated as aged 17 to 29, were more likely to be observed using a mobile phone while driving than females and drivers estimated as being aged 60 or over respectively
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 2021, 19,655 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) were issued for using a hand-held mobile phone while driving. This was an increase of 10 per cent on the 17,873 FPNs issued in 2020.
This is the first increase in the past decade following a year-on-year decline since 2011. However, the volume of this type of offence is 31 per cent lower than pre-pandemic levels (28,321 offences in 2019) and is therefore likely to reflect traffic volumes returning to normal after a decrease in 2020 during the pandemic. The fall in this offence type compared with pre-pandemic levels 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 2021 in Great Britain:-
- 94.8 per cent of all drivers were observed using a seatbelt, compared to 96.5 per cent in 2017
- 94.6 per cent of all front seat passengers were observed using a seatbelt, compared to 93.1 per cent in 2017
- 91.5 per cent of all rear seat passengers were observed using a seatbelt, compared to 90.7 per cent in 2017
Seatbelt wearing rates varied notably by vehicle type, and were higher for cars and lower for other types of vehicle. The highest rate of seatbelt use amongst drivers was observed in cars (97.2 per cent) and the lowest proportion was observed in taxis (55.4 per cent). The lower wearing rate for taxis is likely to reflect the exemptions from wearing a seatbelt for taxi and private hire vehicle drivers, and is also based on a very small number of vehicles observed.
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.