‘CRACK DOWN ON NON-UK VEHICLE TAX EVADERS – RAC / TfL ASKS LONDONERS TO ‘SHARE THE ROAD’ IN NEW TV CAMPAIGN / ‘QUICK FIX’ MODIFICATIONS COULD COST LIVES – IAM
“Despite the fact the UK Border Force gathers details of every non-UK vehicle entering and leaving the country this information is not currently used by the DVLA for licensing purposes which means the Government is missing out on valuable tax revenue” say the RAC.
“And, as the DVLA has no idea whether non-UK-registered vehicles have stayed in the country longer than six months many over three years may well not have a valid MOT and therefore will be contravening insurance rules, thereby compromising the safety of all road users.
“The lack of a record also means that EU-registered and other foreign vehicles are more likely to evade fines generated by the UK’s army of speed cameras – a further source of revenue that could be ploughed back into the country’s roads.
“Official figures show that around 60,000 non-UK vehicles are registered with the DVLA each year, but there are estimates that around 15,000 vehicles are not being registered.
“The very nature of this worrying problem means this figure is speculative and that the real number could be much higher in the tens of thousands, especially considering that some 2.5m cars alone use the Eurotunnel every year.
“With the average rate of vehicle tax in the region of £200, the 15,000 non-UK unregistered vehicle estimate would mean £3m in VED alone is not being collected each year. “This could, of course, be well in excess of £10m if there were to be more than 50,000 EU-registered or foreign cars remaining in the UK long term.
“Currently, the DVLA only records information about non-UK-registered vehicles, including those that are unlicensed, when they are notified through offence reports provided by the police, by other enforcement agencies and via sightings from members of the public.
“Between 1 April 2009 and 31 March 2014, 20,349 notifications were received. Vehicles that over-stay the exemption and do not register and pay VED can be subject to enforcement action which can include wheel-clamping, impounding and disposal.”
RAC head of external affairs Pete Williams said: “Given the prevalence of technology such as automatic number plate recognition, it is beyond belief that in the 21st century two important Government agencies – namely the UK Border Force and DVLA – are not already sharing information in a system that allows us to keep track of the comings and goings of non-UK vehicles.
“As things stand now, we don’t have a clue about the true number of foreign cars in the UK that should be paying Vehicle Excise Duty or how many of them that require MOTs to make sure they are road legal and can be insured.
“Drivers of unregistered foreign cars and vans are escaping speeding fines generated by safety cameras as there is no easy means of matching foreign number plates to their owners who may or may not live hundreds of miles away in another country.
“Other countries in Europe have got to grips with this. “Norway, for instance, has a system for tracking foreign cars and billing them for using toll roads. “In the interests of ensuring all vehicles on Britain’s roads are roadworthy, fully taxed and insured, it really is high time the UK followed suit.
“We understand that DVLA, the UK Border Force and the police are looking at how data can be used to identify foreign-registered vehicles that have been in the UK for longer than six months, so we urge the Government to make finding an effective solution a high priority.” (Source: RAC press release)
TfL ASKS LONDONERS TO ‘SHARE THE ROAD’ IN NEW TV CAMPAIGN
Transport for London (TfL) is calling for all road users to look out for each other and share the road in its new road safety campaign.
The new TV campaign aims to generate understanding and respect between all road users, asking them to reconsider their attitudes and ‘share the road’.
In the advert, the narrator walks through London’s streets and asks why all road users; pedestrians, cyclists and drivers, momentarily get so angry with one another on the capital’s streets.
The vivid black and white advert holds a mirror up to road users’ behaviour, mixing different scenes of conflict; from the frustration of a cyclist and motorcyclist to the simmering rage between a car driver and a group of young people.
By highlighting the conflicts that can occur between people, the advert looks to make people think of their actions and therefore look out for others when travelling around the city.
The advert will run on television screens for the next five weeks and for the first time, road users are invited to talk about their experience as road users on social media using #sharetheroad.
Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “London is a vibrant, bustling city where millions exist shoulder to shoulder.
“In 2013, 2,324 people were killed or seriously injured on the capital’s roads. “This unacceptable figure shows why all of us who take to London’s streets should show greater respect and consideration to others. “It is not just a matter of courtesy but life and death.”
British Cycling Campaign manager Martin Key said: “We welcome Transport for London’s focus on the need for mutual respect on the capital’s roads and would like to see a national awareness campaign about the need for people to give each other space.
“People in cars and people on bikes are often the same people, nine in ten of British Cycling’s members also drive a car and more mutual respect on our roads is one of their priority issues.” (Source: TfL press release)
‘QUICK FIX’ MODIFICATIONS COULD COST LIVES – IAM
Britain’s leading independent road safety charity is warning that some popular aftermarket vehicle modifications are not only making cars and vans illegal – they could also be risking lives.
The Institute of Advanced Motorists has highlighted three of the most common aftermarket tweaks that render vehicles illegal – and noted that people are rarely prosecuted despite the risks to other road users. The tweaks are:
– diesel particulate filter removal;
– fitting xenon headlights; and
– reprogramming or ‘chipping’ vehicle electronic control units (ECUs)
Diesel particulate filters (DPFs) can sometimes be troublesome, especially for van operators making frequent stops in urban areas. Due to the fact the DPF doesn’t run at the optimal temperature in town centre driving, the item can sometimes clog up and fail – causing an expensive and lengthy repair.
Some garages offer to remove the filters, assuring the operator the modification is acceptable – but the result of these back-alley tweaks is to increase deadly pollutants and CO2 emissions.
IAM head of technical policy Tim Shallcross said: “DPF removal has always been illegal but since 1 January 2014 has also been reason to fail an MOT. Some garages are blatantly still doing it. In short – they are selling a service that’s killing people.”
“Removing a DPF isn’t a task that can be done accidentally, as it involves reprogramming the engine management computer. Before 1 January it wouldn’t count as an MOT fail; but unscrupulous traders still offer to cut the case open from the top of the unit, remove the filter and welt it shut again – in an attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of the tester to achieve an MOT pass.
“This is disgraceful, but people are rarely prosecuted for this openly advertised service.”
The popular trend for xenon headlamp conversions is also a major hazard – not having a self-levelling or washing function means they can dazzle oncoming traffic, potentially causing an accident.
Shallcross said: “Fitting this kind of lighting is illegal. Claiming ignorance of the law is no excuse; these lights which people choose because they look stylish could potentially have tragic consequences.”
Finally the reprogramming of ECUs, or ‘chipping’ is another popular modification that is fraught with hazards for a number of reasons.
Shallcross said: “No aftermarket warranty company will offer to cover a car that has been chipped. If you don’t tell you insurer it is likely to invalidate your policy.
“But if you do tell your insurer, he could refuse to cover your car at all, or could demand a hefty increase to your premium. Is it really worth it in the long run?” (Source: IAM press release)