Drivers from abroad escape prosecution from speed cameras

Automatic enforcement systems in the UK are enabling foreign drivers to commit speeding offences without fear of prosecution.

Using a freedom of information request, the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has obtained data from most UK police forces regarding the number of motorists captured speeding by enforcement cameras throughout the country and who have escaped prosecution through not having their vehicles registered with the DVLA.

As a result of the request, the IAM discovered that since the start of 2013, more than 23,000 drivers from abroad have flouted traffic regulations and got away with it. The reason for this is that such automatic enforcement systems only operated with DVLA registered vehicles and there is no agreement with foreign countries concerning the sharing of vehicle data when traffic offences are committed, a situation which the IAM would like to see addressed.

The 23,000 foreign vehicle speeding violations recorded during the last 22 months amounts to approximately £2.3 million pounds in lost revenue from penalties and some of the violations were far from minor with some recorded speeds being in excess of 100mph (161kph) in 50mph (80kph) limits. Thames Valley, Merseyside, Warwickshire, Gwent and Kent were the police areas that suffered the most violations with Greater London coming in 6th with just over 1500 violations since the start of last year.

However, things may change for the better as the EU directive on cross border enforcement was changed in May this year so that the UK no longer has the option of opting out. The directive enables country members to have access to vehicle ownership information relating to certain motoring offences which include speeding, drink driving, bus lane violations and using mobile phones whilst driving. However, it is still unclear when the directive will be implemented in the UK.

Commenting on the inability to prosecute overseas motorists, the IAM’s Neil Greig stated that progress on introducing the harmonisation of information across Europe on motoring offences has been slow and that it needs to be speeded up so that the police have the powers to track down dangerous drivers regardless of their country of origin. In the meantime, thousands of such drivers are continuing to avoid fines and bans, he concluded.

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