Motoring organisations have slammed Transport for London’s proposed £30 increase for road fines on the capital’s ‘red routes’, which would see drivers charged £160 for blocking yellow box junctions, breaking parking rules, performing illegal turns and driving in bus lanes.
It would mean motorists who perform minor traffic violations in London will be fined 78 per cent more than shoplifters and those causing criminal damage – and up to four times the minimum daily wage.
Edmund King, president at the AA, described the decision as ‘unacceptable’ in a scathing response to the public consultation launched by TfL in August, saying the capital’s transport bosses had provided no evidence to support an increase in road traffic fine amounts.
Higher fines for entering a box junction than theft! Transport for London in August launched a public consultation into increasing fines for minor road offences on the capital’s red routes from £130 to £160, which would make then £70 higher than for shoplifting and criminal damage. The AA provided This is Money with exclusive access to its scathing TfL response
The consultation – launched on 5 August and closed on 19 September – put forward a maximum penalty charge notice (PCN) hike from £130 to £160 in central London, as part of efforts to ‘cut road danger and congestion’.
Fines would be reduced to £80 if paid within 14 days, though the full amount of £160 is £70 more than thieves and criminals receive.
In its written letter to TfL, Luke Bosdet, the AA’s public affairs spokesman, said: ‘Someone who shoplifts, is drunk and disorderly or commits criminal damage can be given a £90 Penalty Notice for Disorder for a lower-level offence.
‘Does society consider stopping in a yellow box junction or wandering into a bus lane to be a worse offence than stealing or criminal damage?’
It went on to point out: ‘The top level of minimum wage is £8.91 an hour. That provides an income of £71.28 for an eight-hour day.
‘For someone under the age of 18, it is £4.62. For a first-year apprentice, it is £4.30. Both those provide a daily income of less than £40.
‘The question then is whether the loss of a day’s wages or more matches an offence where, by mistake or perhaps because of bad signage, a driver’s car might stop partially in a yellow box or wander into a bus lane for less than two seconds, without impeding other road users in either case.’
Red routes, which are managed by TfL, make up around 5% of the capital’s road network
While they only account for a tiny fraction of London’s roads, they are also some of the busiest in the city, carrying 40% of all traffic, meaning hundreds of thousands of drivers are at risk of receiving hiked fines for the small infringements
Penalty charge notices for offences such as criminal damage, shoplifting, being drunk and disorderly and selling alcohol to minors are just £90 each – that’s £70 less than the full fine amount for drivers who inadvertently block a box junction for a matter of seconds
Red routes, which are managed by TfL, make up around five per cent of the capital’s road network.
However, they are also some of the busiest in the city, carrying 40 per cent of traffic.
TfL says it is proposing an increase to fine amounts for offences such as illegal parking to deter motorists from breaking rules and therefore prevent the obstruction of ‘vital deliveries and collections’ and reduce delays for buses and emergency services.
‘No evidence to support an increase in fines’, says AA
Announcing the proposal on 5 August, TfL said: ‘All income from PCNs is re-invested by TfL, to cover the cost of enforcement and schemes to reduce road danger.’
If the decision to increase fine amounts is progressed, it would be the first rise for 10 years.
Does society consider stopping in a yellow box junction or wandering into a bus lane to be a worse offence than stealing or criminal damage?
Luke Bosdet, AA Public Affairs spokesman
TfL says the proposed increase to £160 is ‘in line with inflation since the last increase’.
However, the AA blasted TfL’s failure to provide evidence to justify the increase and said records suggest the current £130 fine – reduced to £65 if paid within a fortnight – is an adequate deterrent.
TfL’s own research for 2011 to 2016 shows that more than 60 per cent of PCNs were handed out for first-time infringements.
Based on these stats, the AA said: ‘Clearly, the current level of fine is having a significant deterrent effect.’
TfL said the proposed increase in fines is ‘intended to increase compliance with the rules and make streets safer, cleaner and less congested for everyone’, but has been dubbed a ‘money-grab’ by motoring groups
The AA accused TfL for failing to provide evidence to justify the proposed fine increase and said records suggest the current £130 fine – reduced to £65 if paid within a fortnight – is an adequate deterrent, with 6 in 10 PCNs issued being for first-time offenders
Percentage of TfL PCNs issued to repeat offenders
Source: TfL’s Report to the Mayor on the Congestion Charging and Traffic Enforcement Penalty Charge Notice Consultation December 2017
TfL enforcement of red routes described as ‘grossly unfair’, ‘shoddy’ and ‘disturbing’
Successful PCN appeal data also shows that many PCNs are for individual businesses being issued multiple fines for the same offence on different occasions, which is inflating repeat-offence data.
‘These have then been cancelled on appeal, very often with the authority not even contesting. How many of these PCNs are listed in the ‘repeat offender’ column?’ the AA asked.
It went on to criticise TfL for what it called ‘grossly unfair, ‘sometimes shoddy’ and ‘disturbing’ enforcement practices, which it says can be split into two groups: deeply unfair instances and hotspots where offences occur repeatedly and are then cancelled on appeal.
One case identified by the AA was a driver who successfully appealed a PCN for stopping on a red route road after CCTV footage proved they had pulled over to help an elderly passenger onboard who had fallen ill and began vomiting.
Despite the footage being available for review, TfL still issued the £130 fine.
There are also instances where PCNs issued by TfL for box junction violations were overturned by the adjudicator for there being not enough evidence of vehicles actually stopping in the hatched area.
Other cases went in the favour of fine-contesting drivers after it was judged that box junction road markings were so faded they were almost impossible to see.
The AA cited a number of successful appeal cases against TfL PCNs for box junction offences in the last year, with instances of fines being overturned by the adjudicator for there being not enough evidence of the vehicles stopping at all
AA said: ‘The job of enforcement is to maintain road flow not create easy money through unjustified fines – made more lucrative by increases that are out of kilter with financial penalties for far worse offences’
‘Transport for London needs to review and improve fairness in the way it enforces restrictions along its road network before an increase in the fine level even starts to become acceptable,’ the AA’s response said.
‘The AA’s concern is that the appeals process is the only filter against bad enforcement practices. Being individualised by case, where is the overall accountability for persistent failures identified in separate appeals? The fear is that there is very little pressure to quality control how enforcement is carried out.
‘The AA has argued previously in its ‘Caught in a Trap’ campaign that fines per location need to be monitored. This would show where restrictions and the related road layouts are ineffective, where signage, markings and design may need to be improved.
‘The job of enforcement is to maintain road flow not create easy money through unjustified fines – made more lucrative by increases that are out of kilter with financial penalties for far worse offences.’
Nicolas Lyes, head of road policy at the RAC, previously described the proposed fine hikes as another example of London Mayor Sadiq Khan (pictured) ‘waging a war on drivers and businesses that rely on their vehicles’
Nicolas Lyes, head of road policy at the RAC, slammed the fine increase proposal, declaring it as ‘nothing more than a money-grab’ and ‘another example of Sadiq Khan waging a war on drivers and businesses that rely on their vehicles’.
It also comes as TfL confirmed the temporary increase to the Congestion Charge to £15 will remain in place and just weeks before the Ultra Low Emission Zone is extended to the North and South Circular Road on 25 October.
Red routes are recognisable for their painted red ‘no-stopping’ lines and signs on designated routes.
Single and double red lines ban all stopping, parking and loading. Double red lines apply at all times and single red lines usually apply during the working day.
They are designed to keep traffic flowing and prohibit drivers from stopping except for in designated areas.
Kicking off the consultation in August, Siwan Hayward, TfL’s director of compliance and policing, said: ‘London’s network of red routes plays a vital role in keeping people moving across the capital and it’s really important that everybody follows the rules that are in place to keep roads clear and to keep people safe.
‘We’d much rather people follow the rules than fine them, and the proposed increase in fines is intended to increase compliance with the rules and make streets safer, cleaner and less congested for everyone.’
With the public consultation closing in the middle of September, This is Money asked TfL to confirm when the findings will be published and a decision made regarding the increase to fine amounts.
A spokesperson told us: ‘We’re currently working through the responses to the consultation and don’t have any further update yet.’
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