A year after most wheel clampers were banned from operating in private car parks (1 October 2012) parking enforcement firms are reaping large sums from issuing automated ‘penalty’ tickets, say the AA.
“It seems many of the notorious clampers have moved their sharp practices to private parking enforcement
“While communities minister Eric Pickles is reining in local authorities who over zealously use CCTV, private parking operators now rely heavily on this technology and automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) to watch drivers and issue tickets through the post when they put a foot wrong in parking areas.
“There has been a surge in parking charge notices issued by private firms through the post with complaints coming in from Edinburgh to the south coast.
“With clamps no longer an option in England and Wales it was inevitable that the number of parking charge notices (private parking tickets) would increase.
“Complaints to the AA have increased and have exposed a new and hard-line attitude by private enforcement firms.
“Recent cases have shown harsh treatment of a diabetic, who slept slightly beyond the two hour limit at a deserted motorway service area in the early hours after having concerns about his blood sugar level.
“Despite obtaining a doctors certificate the parking firm rejected his appeal and although he said this would cause hardship the firm said he could pay the £60 by monthly instalments.
“Another member in London was threatened with a £160 parking ticket which breached the £100 maximum recommended by the British Parking Association’s code which the enforcement firm was signed up to.
“She was so scared she paid up rather than taking the case to the new independent appeal service (POPLA – Parking on Private Land Appeals))
“POPLA appears to be struggling to cope with appeal demand with its website warning of high demand and a back log.
“Latest statistics show that 13,611 appeals were registered up to late August with only 6,913 decided, of those parking firms (3,361) won more than drivers (2,856).
“Although clamping has largely gone, its legacy remains. “One AA member who was wrongly clamped and towed in 2012 secured a victory against the clamper in court.
“But despite employing his own bailiff to recover the sum he has yet to see a penny of the £500 he was awarded because the clamper has gone to ground.
AA President Edmund King said: “We are pleased that after decades of clamper extortion their practices have largely been consigned to history.
“But private parking enforcement remains unregulated and is a free-for-all when even firms signed up to a code of practice breach their own rules.
“It seems many of the notorious clampers have moved their sharp practices to private parking enforcement.
“Others seem to have adopted strong arm tactics to threaten drivers into paying tickets that are often unjust and set at an unreasonable level compared to those issued by regulated local authorities.
“With the new independent appeal system apparently bursting at the seams it is clear many drivers feel unfairly done by but are finding it hard to get a result.
“We are very concerned about POPLA’s difficulties, which they assured us they could overcome with additional staff some months ago and we hope meltdown can be avoided”.
The AA’s plan for better parking
- Parking enforcement on private land should be regulated
- Financial sanctions for rule-breaking should be set at levels that better match the type of infringement
- Parking restriction signs and markings must be more consistent, better maintained and unambiguous
- Enforcement errors should result in driver compensation
- Parking charges should not be set to maximise revenue for other purposes
- Local plans should be required to ensure that there is sufficient parking provision.
It is estimated that 2.3 million private parking tickets are issued every year. It is also reported that DVLA received £1.4 million during the three months April-June this year with over half a million drivers details given out.The Government’s regulatory impact assessment prior to introducing the ban on wheel clamping estimated that the ban would result in 500,000 more private parking tickets being issued – netting around £30m.(Source: AA press release).
AA URGE CAUTION OVER ‘FULL DRIVING LICENCE AT 19’
The report, commissioned by the Department for Transport, was published on 9 October 9th and comes in advance of the expected government Green Paper into young driver safety due out this autumn.
“In essence, the report advocates implementing a full graduated driving licence system in the UK.
“This would mean someone learning to drive at 17 would have to successfully complete a 12-month minimum learning period before taking their test and a 12-month probationary licence period after their test before they gained a full licence.
“Some of the proposals would have a great impact on the lives of young people and their families.
“Under the recommendations, an 18-year-old who had passed their learner driver test and had a probationary licence would not be able to drive themselves home after a shift that finished after 10pm – as most evening shifts do.
Key recommendations from the research include:
- Road safety resources to be incorporated onto the national curriculum
- Minimum learner period of 12 months, starting at 17, with a further 12 month probationary period.
- Minimum 100 hours daylight and 20 hours night supervised practice supported by mandatory logbook. This can be completed by an ADI/parent/guardian or other supervising driver
- Removal of motorway restriction for learner drivers
- Possibly suggesting lowering of blood alcohol limit to 0.2 g/l for all drivers
- Possibly suggesting mobile phone ban (including hands free) for all drivers
- Green P plate legally required for 12 months after passing test
- No driving between 10pm and 5am unless with adult over 30 during first 12 months of licence
- Drivers under 30 in their first 12 months of having a licence cannot carry a passenger under 30 unless they are accompanied by another adult over 30
- Consider lifelong learning with periodic assessment of all drivers by an ADI to maintain licence
- Consider licensing or regulation for providers of off-road skill training for under-17s
- Consideration of evaluated national remedial courses for first-time offenders of certain offences (for full licence holders).
at the extreme end this report could be seen as just recommending taking novice drivers off the road by regulation and restriction rather than helping them develop the right attitudes and skills to provide them with the mobility they need
AA president Edmund King said: “There are many proposals in the report with merit and which are advocated by the AA.
“Road safety on the national curriculum is something we have long campaigned for and I am pleased to see it being recommended here.
“Likewise we would also support learner drivers being allowed on motorways with their instructor.
“But at the extreme end this report could be seen as just recommending taking novice drivers off the road by regulation and restriction rather than helping them develop the right attitudes and skills to provide them with the mobility they need.”
Workers are coming under pressure to take dangerous risks when it comes to using their mobiles when driving for work or commuting, warns AA DriveTech.
Some drivers have even been criticised by their manager or colleagues for not responding to emails, texts or calls when driving for work or commuting.
Figures from an AA/Populus survey* show that, of those who drive for work and have a work mobile phone (6, 973), nearly one in five (19pc) do not agree their employer actively encourages safe and legal use of mobile phones while driving for work or commuting by car.
Other key findings showed of those who drive for work and have a work mobile phone (6, 973):
• 2pc said they have been explicitly told they are expected to return emails, texts and calls when they are driving for work or commuting.
• More than one in twenty (7pc) feel under pressure to answer their hand-held work mobile when driving for work or commuting.
• Around one in six (15pc) feel under pressure to answer their hands-free work mobile when driving for work or commuting.
• 4pc have been criticised by their manager or colleagues for not responding to emails, texts or calls when driving for work or commuting.
AA DriveTech said: “Employers have a statutory duty of care and, besides the risk to their employees, they are putting themselves at risk of liability and criminal charges in the event of a crash if the company’s actions, or lack of them, is deemed to have contributed to the incident.
“The facts are clear – using a mobile phone behind the wheel, even a hands free version, significantly increases the chances of being involved in a crash.
“Besides the dangers posed to the individual taking and receiving calls, texts or emails while driving, companies have a duty of care to employees they should not shirk; at worst they risk facing charges of corporate manslaughter.”
Simon Stammers, AA DriveTech Fleet director, said: “It is especially worrying that some people say they have been explicitly told they should respond to calls, texts and emails when they are driving.”
More information about mobile phones and driving for work can be found here: www.theaa.com/motoring_advice/
‘Traffic light’ system needed to highlight the driving risks of prescription drugs say IAM
Only half of drivers feel prescription drug labelling is clear enough on medicines, according to the latest poll by road safety charity the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM)
Earlier this year, the government announced that a drug-driving bill will be introduced and will include chemicals which can be found in prescription drugs.
Almost a third of respondents suggest that a simple traffic-light system would be the best method to inform people of the risks of using prescription drugs when driving.
IAM chief executive Simon Best said: “Motorists clearly feel that labelling is not clear or consistent enough when giving information on driving when taking medications.
“A traffic-light system such as red for no driving, amber for care required and green for limited effects appears to be the most popular option.
“What is clear is that we will need a wide ranging information campaign to support the new laws and ensure motorists don’t find themselves on the wrong side of the law.” (Source: IAM press release)