Plans for DVSA to issue retrospective fines stall
Plans to allow DVSA enforcement officers to issue fines to drivers for retrospective drivers’ hours offences, instead of prosecuting drivers through the courts, have stalled.
Under proposals consulted in 2014, DVSA enforcement officers are to be given the authority to issue fixed penalty notices and financial penalty deposits to drivers up to 28 days after a drivers’ hours offence has been committed. Currently DVSA staff can only fine drivers if an offence has been discovered that day.
DVSA officers will also be able to issue fines for HGV Road User Levy offences committed in the same timeframe.
In its consultation outcome report in November 2014, the DfT said that it intended to make the legislative changes necessary to enable enforcement officers to hand out such fines by October 2015. This was subsequently delayed until April 2016.
But in response to a Freedom of Information request by CM, the DfT said no date for the introduction of these powers had yet been set, but it still intended to proceed with the changes.
The DfT said: “We appreciate that it is taking longer than anticipated to introduce the changes necessary to legislation.
“Although this change will affect everyone, it will mainly target non-UK drivers, who at present are not being penalised for historical EU drivers’ hours offences while UK drivers are, because they are not obliged to respond to a court summons issued in the UK,” said the DfT.
Police warn non-UK drivers are misusing refuge areas
Police forces have warned that HGVs are misusing emergency refuge areas (ERAs) created as part of the managed motorway scheme, posing a road safety risk.
They told MPs that the use of ERAs by mainly foreign-registered trucks for drivers’ hours and tachograph breaks is becoming increasingly apparent.
Several all-lane running motorway schemes are in operation across the country, on sections of the M4, M5, M6, M42 and M62 and some involve the use of the hard shoulder as a full-time running lane.
The Central Motorway Police Group (CMPG) said: “Stopping on the side of the motorway is very common on the continent, but this is not what ERA bays are designed for in the UK.
“The misuse of ERA bays in this way reduces the number of areas for safety that can be used by motorists in difficulty, increasing the likelihood of a live lane breakdown and with it the risk to the travelling public.”
It added that encounters with foreign drivers have often resulted in “a certain degree of conflict” and was taking time away from the police.
The Metropolitan Police Service said it had observed that “ERAs are frequently used by HGVs for non-emergency stops and the detection and deterrence for such illegal use is inadequate”.
It added that ERAs have insufficient space to accommodate an HGV and a large recovery vehicle.
This month saw the introduction of the latest scheme on a section of the M1 in the East Midlands and South Yorkshire, which Highways England estimated could improve journeys for more than 95,000 drivers a day.
However, Highways England said it had recorded “a high level of ERA misuse” on the M25 scheme. “Some 85% from a sample of 392 stops were determined to be non-emergency. This problem appears to be acute for HGVs, with 96% of 135 stops appearing non-emergency.”