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In Theory, Driving to Improve

August 17th, 2007
Adrian Butterworth

Government Ministers have responded to criticisms of driving standards by upgrading the driving test. The Driving Standards Agency hope to improve road safety with 50 multiple choice questions instead of the current 30. The percentage pass mark has remained the same at 86%.

Drivers will start taking the new theory test from September 3rd when the time allowed for the test will increase to 57 minutes and the fees will go up from £21.50 to £28.50.

Both the theory test and practical tests can be booked online and the website also allows you to practice with the questions that could be asked.

The government is particularly worried about fatal accidents involving young drivers. A decade ago there were just under 14 deaths per 100,000 drivers aged 17 to 20. In 2005 that figure had climbed to just over 19.

Other new proposals would mean a year long training period so that young adults would not get full licences until over 18. There would also be a zero tolerance attitude to drinking for newly qualified drivers and they would retake their tests if any alcohol showed up in their blood.


Eviction Notice for Centre Lane Squatters

August 10th, 2007
Adrian Butterworth

The Highways Agency has launched a new DVD ‘Stay Safe, Keep Moving’ designed to get drivers out of the centre lane. They claim that these centre lane squatters cause congestion, driver irritation and compromise safety. But does a DVD go far enough?

At the root of centre lane squatting is the perception that the motorways have a slow lane, middle lane and fast lane. But lanes two and three are in fact for overtaking only and the Highway Code states that drivers should return to lane one as soon as it is safe to do so.

At the moment it is not illegal to remain in the centre lane, despite the Highway Code. However, the Police could prosecute for careless or inconsiderate driving under the Road Traffic Act 1991.

The Highways Agency cannot get involved in enforcement and speed cameras are currently not able to detect centre land squatters. As Police numbers dwindle on the highways, who will prevent the problem from getting worse? Ex-Chief Superintendent Gerry Toms believes that the Transport Minister was unfair to blame the Police.

Gerry Toms, Ex-Chief Superintendent, South Wales

Welcome to Anarchy on the UK Roads'

'...I think that it is a bit unfair to lay the blame at the doorstep of Chief Constables...'

Welcome to Anarchy on the UK Roads'


Less Traffic Cops Equals More Car Cloning

June 22nd, 2007
Adrian Butterworth

New figures show a 25% increase in Car Cloning Crime over the last year.  Yet last week the Transport Minister exclusively told us, that he thinks there are not enough Police Traffic Officers on the road.

To catch the fraudsters the government have given the DVLA new enforcement powers.  Yet they can only attempt to prevent the crime by going after producers of fake plates.  Only policemen on the roads can discover the users of the counterfeits and prevent our highways from being used by criminals.

Speed cameras and data systems such as the DVLA’s are no replacement for real policemen.  It seems that Dr Stephen Ladyman, the Transport Minister agrees.  In his letter to all Chief Police Officers he pointed out that:

“Whilst technology has enhanced capacity for the police to perform their role more efficiently and effectively, it cannot enforce all offences and cannot replace direct intervention by the police.  There is a need for an active police presence on the roads.”

As the number of Police Traffic Officers has declined so crimes related to vehicle identity have gone up.  If criminals steal your cars license details you could mistakenly be prosecuted for their crimes.

Dave Warren, DVLA Vehicle Crime Manager

'...the officers have been in place but without the prosecution powers since the Road Safety Act of 2006...'


Minister admits not enough Traffic Cops

June 15th, 2007
Adrian Butterworth

Britain’s Transport Minister has conceded that there are not enough Police on the roads.  However, he is not accepting that they have been ‘driven’ out by Highways Agency Traffic Officers.  Dr Stephen Ladyman MP Minister of State for Transport admitted to us that,

‘in some parts of the country there aren’t enough police on the road’ and went on to say that he has ‘written to all the Chief Police Constables reminding them that they should put sufficient resources into road policing’.

Just last Tuesday Chief Constable Meredydd Hughes, used The Times to let his feelings be known,

“We have had additional money for robbery initiatives, burglary, antisocial behaviour, domestic violence. But I have never had additional money for road casualty reduction. We have been calling for over two years for drink driving and driving while disqualified to be given the same status in our policing statistics as theft of a Kit Kat from a corner shop.”

Highways Agency Traffic Officers have been universally praised for their work.  But, by removing the need for Traffic Police to manage the roads the Government have left our Highways without law enforcement.  Chief Police Constables have clearly defined targets set by Parliament and Traffic Policing is a long way down the list.

Dr. Stephen Ladyman MP Minister of State for Transport

'I do accept in some parts of the country there aren't enough Police on the roads...'

'...I would've like to think that Cheif Constables were mature enough in their allocation of resource...'

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