NI 56 - Rise of 20mph zones nets police forces £57m as the number of people sent on speed awareness courses rockets 330% in just two years

Post date: 15-Jan-2018 15:24:33

The attendance at speed awareness courses has skyrocketed by 330% and bagged the police £57million following the rise of 20mph zones.

Drivers attending courses after being caught in the low-speed zones doubled in 2017 to more than 34,000, new figures show.

Since 2014 when figures were first collated by the National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS) the number of people choosing the 20mph course over three points and a fine doubled year-on-year. The 20mph scheme is of one nine motoring retraining courses that speeding drivers can attend rather than coughing up £100.

A record 1.4 million drivers attended courses last year. Thirty-thousand of these drivers attended a national motorway speed awareness course - despite it only being introduced in the last quarter of 2017. These figures have raised concerns that the police are benefiting financially from the rise in 20mph zones in Britain.

This is because a percentage of course fees go to the police but a speeding fine goes directly to the Treasury.

Last September the police's share increased by nearly 30 per cent as it increased to £45 from £35 per driver - meaning they pocketed £56.7million in 2017. When the law was loosened in 1991 to give local authorities more flexibility many chose to introduce 20mph zones.

A year later there were 250 in place across Britain and since then areas including Oxford, Bristol, Warrington and Hackney have introduced them as a default limit for residential streets. A spokesman for the National Police Chief’s Council said speed awareness schemes were designed to ‘provide police forces with cost recovery only’.This included enforcing and administering course attendance, collecting evidence, serving forms and fixed penalties, organising courses, monitoring attendance and registering successful attendance.

20 mph speed limit road sign

Manchester City council bosses have scrapped a new 20mph speed limit after finding it made no difference to the number of accidents on the road

The restriction was announced in 2012 with plans to roll it out on all minor residential roads across Manchester at a total cost to taxpayers of £1.7million. But after the initial phases officials realised the limit had made almost no difference to speeds - and on some roads they had actually gone up.

Half a million pounds of public health cash was earmarked in 2013 to roll out the restrictions - then a year later another £500,000 was spent with another £700,000 still available. It cut speeds by a 'marginal' 0.7mph and the reduction in accidents was less than the overall drop across the region, according to a Manchester City Council report. The measures were brought in across central, south and east Manchester by Labour council bosses after calls from the opposition Liberal Democrat group.

The AA told MailOnline that 20mph zones 'do work' but that widespread restrictions 'inspire little respect' from motorists.

Figures released by the organisation show that 84% of drivers break such a limit despite an overall reduction in average speed.

More than half of UK drivers admit to breaking 20mph speed limits, a survey has found.

The poll of 2,000 motorists found that 52% have driven faster than 24mph in the zones within the past year. The research, commissioned by road safety charity Brake and insurance firm Churchill, found that 25-34 year olds are most likely to speed in such areas.

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