Drivers could be faced with pay-per-mile road charging and other fresh levies to plug a £40 billion financial black hole caused by the mass advent of electric cars, which are currently exempt from road tax and generate no fuel duty revenue.
The news comes after the cross-party Transport Select Committee announced it was starting a “national debate” on road pricing, with a formal inquiry beginning in 2020.
The Committee highlights that “road pricing does not only mean tolls”, with congestion and low emission zones being other possibilities, along with extra fees for heavy goods vehicles, and workplace parking levies.
Citing a desire to encourage a “modal shift” away from cars, and decarbonise the transport sector, the Select Committee wants the national debate to be open to “drivers and non-drivers alike”, while the inquiry will consider the pros and cons of road pricing and its economic, environmental, and social effects.
Road tolls, GPS data loggers (mandatory on new cars from 2022), the UK’s vast ANPR camera network (which scans 10 billion number plates a year), or a combination of all three could be used to charge drivers based on the length of their journeys.
Drivers who park at work could be charged for the privilege of doing so. Nottingham council already runs a WPL scheme, charging employers (including schools) with more than 10 staff £415 per parking space, per year. Birmingham is also proposing a WPL.
London’s Congestion Charge Zone generated £1.9billion in net revenue up to 2017, while the ultra low-emission Zone charges owners of pre-Euro 6 diesel cars or pre-Euro 4 petrol extra to enter the Zone.
Other towns or cities that have considered or are considering emission zones include Birmingham, Bath and Glasgow.
Lorries weighing over 12 tonnes are already liable for the HGV levy, which costs up to £1,200 a year, depending on lorry type and emissions class. Foreign trucks are also subject to levies. Ministers could opt to increase the charge of make its conditions stricter.
The fact that the Treasury faces a huge revenue loss due to EVs not using petrol or diesel and currently being exempt from VED has been an elephant in the room for some time. It was only last week that the Institute for Fiscal Studies recommended the introduction of road pricing to recoup lost fuel duty and vehicle excise duty (VED) revenue. Back in 2007, the then Labour government scrapped proposals that would have seen drivers pay up to £1.30 per mile following public opposition.
Auto Express, meanwhile, submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Treasury in October 2018 asking what methods the Government was considering replacing VED and fuel duty revenue lost to EVs. Our request was refused as it related to “an area of live policy development.”
And in 2017 Edmund King, president of the AA, and his wife proposed a ‘Road Miles’ system that would see each driver given an annual mileage allowance that they could trade or swap with other drivers, while also being able to buy extra miles by entering auctions and lotteries.
Announcing the start of the debate, Lilian Greenwood, chair of the Transport Select Committee, said: “We need to ask how we will pay for roads in the future and in answering that question we have an opportunity for a much wider debate about our use of road space, cutting carbon emissions, tackling congestion, modal shift and how we prioritise active travel.
Through the weekend and into next week it looks like heavy rain at times and strong winds, it stays wet and windy until the end of Wednesday.
Then comes the cold with temperatures are set to sink below freezing in Scotland by the middle of the month.
That means odds on a white Christmas are sure to be slashed with conditions set to get much worse in 2020.
falling temperatures so far this month have prompted an early flurry of bets on us having a White Christmas this year.
Weather forecaster James Madden explained why things are about to change.
“October is now looking like it will turn out to be colder than average with more of a chance of something wintery setting in through the second half of the month,” he said
There is a strong chance of widespread frosts and the chance of snowfall which will set the scene for November.
This will pave the way for what is shaping up to be a colder than average winter with some extreme cold weather events.
While these could start to make an impact within the next few weeks, they will be particularly troublesome from December onwards.
Snow events have been few and far between in recent years, but this winter is looking favourable to bring snow event after snow event as weather systems from the Atlantic clash with cold stagnated air over the UK.
This is relevant as solar energy effects ocean currents including the Gulf Stream currents which have a knock-on effect on the jet stream brining cold air in the UK and bringing these weather patterns.
Applying these factors to long-range weather indications can successfully allow us to identify cold weather patterns coming up.
Similar methods have allowed us to identify some previous record-breaking cold weather events such as those seen in 2010 and 2013 when cold weather lasted into spring
Drivers who cause death when looking at their mobile phoneswill face life in jail for the first time under Government plans to be revealed on Monday.
In a major hardening of sentencing guidelines, ministers will propose raising the upper limit of imprisonment for dangerous drivers who kill from 14 years to a lifetime.
It is designed to send a “clear message” that people who cause “immeasurable pain” to families with reckless driving should be given a “punishment that fits the crime”.
The move comes after a string of high-profile cases where children have been killed when people at the wheel failed to brake while being distracted by their phones.
Last year, 122 people were sentenced for causing death by dangerous driving and a further 21 people were convicted for killing someone when under the influence of drink or drugs.
Ministers have become concerned at whether the punishments are harsh enough, with evidence showing the average sentence for causing death while driving is less than four years.
Sam Gyimah, the justice minister, said: “Killer drivers ruin lives. Their actions cause immeasurable pain to families, who must endure tragic, unnecessary losses.
My message is clear – if you drive dangerously and kill on our roads, you could face a life sentence
Sam Gyimah, the justice minister
“While impossible to compensate for the death of a loved one, we are determined to make sure the punishment fits the crime.
“My message is clear – if you drive dangerously and kill on our roads, you could face a life sentence.”
Ministers will tomorrow propose increasing the maximum sentence for causing death by dangerous driving or when under the influence of drink or drugs from 14 years to life.
They will also suggest creating a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving, with a maximum sentence of three years.
Dangerous driving includes speeding, street racing and also using a mobile phone when at the wheel, which ministers have become increasingly concerned about.
In October, a lorry driver who killed a woman and three children by hitting their stationary car while looking at his mobile phone was jailed for 10 years.
Tomasz Kroker, 30, smashed into the vehicle carrying Tracey Houghton, 45, her sons, Ethan Houghton, 13, and Josh Houghton, 11, and her stepdaughter, Aimee Goldsmith, 11, at 50mph on August 10.
Their car was shunted underneath the back of a heavy goods vehicle and crushed to a third of its size, immediately killing the family, from Bedfordshire, at the scene on the A34 dual carriageway north of Newbury in Berkshire.
Kroker, from Andover, Hampshire, had pleaded guilty to four counts of causing death by dangerous driving and one count of causing serious injury by dangerous driving at Reading Crown Court on October 10.
The court had heard that Kroker, who himself had become a father five months before the incident, was so distracted by his phone that he barely looked at the road for almost a kilometre.
Passing sentence, Judge Maura McGowan said his attention had been so poor that he “might as well have had his eyes closed”.
Just an hour earlier he had signed a declaration to his employer, promising he would not use his phone at the wheel.
Kroker’s truck ploughed into a stationary queue of two lorries and four smaller vehicles which were stuck behind a slow-moving articulated lorry near the villages of East and West Ilsley at around 5.10pm.
A man was seriously injured and four other people were hurt in the horrific accident.
Breaking down in a live lane on an all-lane-running (ALR) section of a ‘digital road’ – more commonly known as a smart motorway – is over 200% more dangerous than doing so on a conventional motorway with a hard shoulder, a damning report by the organisation responsible for running motorways has revealed.
According to Highways England’s own hazard log data, breaking down in a live lane of an ALR smart motorway is 216 per cent more dangerous than doing so on a conventional motorway with a hard shoulder.
The data was revealed by a Highways England report written in 2016 and only recently discovered by the AA. Entitled ‘Stationary Vehicle Detection Monitoring’, the report also references data on breakdowns in live ALR lanes of the M25 between junctions 25 and 26, which shows the average time for Highways England CCTV operatives took to spot a broken-down vehicle in a live lane was 17 minutes and one second, with one breakdown taking over an hour for operatives to spot.
The AA also sent a Freedom of Information request to Highways England, which revealed that there are 135.1 miles of ALR smart motorways in England, but only 24.2 miles are covered by a system that automatically detects vehicles broken down in live lanes.
This is spread over two sections of the M25 – one from J5-6 and the other from J23-27.
Stationary Vehicle Detection (SVD) – a radar system capable of automatically detecting stationary vehicles across multiple lanes – can spot a broken-down vehicle 16 minutes faster than human CCTV operatives on average.
When a vehicle is detected by SVD, an alarm in the operations centre is triggered, causing staff to investigate and take necessary action, closing the appropriate lane and setting digital signs to warn other drivers.
In ALR schemes were SVD technology is not used, 36 per cent of live lane breakdowns took over 15 minutes to find.
The report also reveals HIghways England’s targets give a three-minute window in which to set a signal change, such as bringing up a red X symbol to close the lane, when a vehicle stops in a live lane.
Highways England says this target does not change, regardless of by which method the broken-down vehicle is detected.
The report’s revelations are at odds with Government evidence given to the Transport Select Committee in September 2016, when the Committee heard Stopped Vehicle Detection systems would be applied to all sections of ALR smart motorway.
SVD will not not be operational on the M3 J2-4a until 2021, while other schemes currently in development are set to be completed in 2022.
The M4 will be fitted with other emerging technology instead, but Highways England has not confirmed what this will be.
In addition, the AA has learned that seven per cent of Highways England’s CCTV overlooking motorways is in ALR sections, roughly proportionate with the six per cent of the UK’s motorway network that is comprised of ALR roads.
These cameras are of the ‘Pan, Tilt and Zoom’ variety, which means they can only look in one direction at a time. If an incident occurs in northbound, for example, and the camera is looking southbound, an operative is unlikely to spot the incident until the camera is turned around.
Edmund King, president of the AA, described the news as a “truly shocking revelation”. He said: “Taking three minutes to set the red X is too long for someone in a broken-down vehicle to wait.
Expecting someone to wait in a dangerous and life-threatening position for 20 minutes is simply inexcusable.”
Max Brown, head of smart roads at Highways England, commented: “The evidence is clear that smart motorways improve safety, with or without automatic stopped vehicle detection systems.
The latest generation of smart motorways have helped to improve safety by at least 25 per cent.
“Our trials on the M25 have shown that a stopped vehicle detection system can be a valuable extra tool to help spot incidents more quickly, and the technology is being designed into all the smart motorway projects that we start constructing from next year.
“Meanwhile we are looking how we could provide the same benefits on all our other recently opened smart motorway upgrades and work on installing a stopped vehicle detection system on the M3 smart motorway in Surrey and Hampshire is already underway.”
The Accrediting Bodies Association for Workplace Transport (ABA) has released its newly developed Basic Operating Skills Test for Rider & Pedestrian Operated Pallet/Stacker Trucks (‘A’ category trucks).
The new testing standards cover the following ABA truck categories: A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, A6 and A7.
You can use the new test straight away if you wish, but is mandatory from 1st December 2019.
We strongly encourage you to read the new test in detail to ensure you are aware of the changes ahead of 1st December 2019.
As part of the new development, the ABA has removed category A8 and created a new category – D3. As a result, the ABA has released an update to the ABA Workplace Transport Groupings, which you can download here.
If you deliver training and testing on a D3 category truck, this will be covered by our LTG2 Reach Truck Trainers Guide.
In light of the above category change, we have also updated out RTITB Trainers Guides and ABA Equivalent Codes list.
Drivers could be banned from using hands-free mobile phones under plans outlined by MPs today.
Stiffer penalties, more enforcement by police and better education are needed to tackle motorists using devices behind the wheel, according to the Commons Transport Committee.
The Government should act to prevent the “entirely avoidable” tragedy of deaths and serious injuries from crashes caused by irresponsible drivers on the phone, it says in a 25-page report published today.
The study calls on ministers to launch a public consultation on banning hands-free calls in cars. “The law currently only proscribes using a hand-held mobile phone or other device while driving,” says the report.
“A hands-free device can be used lawfully, creating the misleading impression that hands-free use is safe.
“The evidence shows that using a hands-free device creates the same risks of a collision as using a hand-held device, and it is therefore inappropriate for the law to condone it by omission.”
The committee recommends the “Government explore options for extending the ban on driving while using a hand-held mobile phone or other device to hands-free devices”.
Calling for a public consultation before the end of the year, it adds: “This should consider the evidence of the risks involved, the consequences of a ban, and the practicalities of enforcing it.”
Some critics of a fresh crackdown say hands-free calls or no different from talking with passengers.
But road safety campaigners backed demands for ministers to consider banning such calls behind the wheel.
Brake’s director of campaigns Joshua Harris said: “The Government must clarify the law on using hand-held mobile devices while driving and close loopholes which treat sending or receiving data differently.
“The current law also provides a dangerous false impression that it is safe to use a mobile phone with a hands-free kit – it is not.
“All phone use behind the wheel is dangerous, and we need the law to reflect this by banning the use of hands-free devices.
“We echo MPs’ call for the Government to work with the police to boost enforcement and ensure there is a true deterrent to the menace of mobile phone use behind the wheel.”
But motoring organisations were sceptical banning hands-free calls would boost safety.
AA President Edmund King said: “Drivers should avoid making or receiving calls where possible.
“However a short, sharp, voice activated call can be beneficial to road safety.
“For example, a very short call saying that you are going to be late will stop people from speeding or driving in a dangerous manner.”
RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: “Before outlawing hands-free phone use at the wheel we believe the Government should focus all its attention on enforcing the current law which has been in place since 2003 yet is still flouted on a daily basis by thousands of drivers.
“The falling number of roads police officers has clearly not helped the enforcement situation.
“This is why we feel the time has come to look at new technology capable of photographing offenders using their handheld phones while driving.
“If hands-free use were to be banned then it could arguably be even harder to catch drivers in the act than it is now.”
In 2017, there were 773 casualties, including 43 deaths and 135 serious injuries, in crashes where a driver using a mobile phone was a contributory factor.
The number of people killed or seriously injured has risen steadily since 2011.
At the same time, the rate of enforcement has plunged by more than two thirds over the past eight years.
The fixed penalties for driving while using a hand-held mobile phone were hiked from three penalty points and a £100 fine to six penalty points and a £200 fine in March 2017.
Committee chairwoman and Labour MP Lilian Greenwood said: “Despite the real risk of catastrophic consequences for themselves, their passengers and other road users, far too many drivers continue to break the law by using hand-held mobile phones.
“If mobile phone use while driving is to become as socially unacceptable as drink driving much more effort needs to go into educating drivers about the risks and consequences of using a phone behind the wheel.
“Offenders also need to know there is a credible risk of being caught, and that there are serious consequences for being caught.
“There is also a misleading impression that hands-free use is safe. The reality is that any use of a phone distracts from a driver’s ability to pay full attention and the Government should consider extending the ban to reflect this.”
A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: “While mobile phones are a vital part of modern life and business, drivers must always use them safely and responsibly.
“Being distracted by a mobile phone while driving is dangerous and puts people’s lives at risk. The law is clear that anyone driving dangerously is committing a criminal offence.”
A gang ringleader has been jailed for smuggling hundreds of migrants, including children, into Britain inside refrigerated lorries. Alket Dauti, a UK-based Albanian, worked with corrupt lorry drivers to bring people into the country illegally via the Channel ports.
He was arrested in June at his home in Penge, south-east London, as part of a joint UK-Belgian investigation into organised crime.
The 31-year-old was convicted in his absence by a court in Belgium last month and has now been sent there to serve his ten year sentence and also been fined £625,000.
Two other men, described as his ‘lieutenants’, were Sentenced to eight years each and await extradition. Belgian prosecutors believe the gang made hundreds of attempts to smuggle migrants into the UK.
Only some were stopped by the Border Force. The National Crime Agency’s Andrea Wilson said: ‘Dauti treated desperate migrants as commodities he could make money from. He was perfectly happy to risk their lives on incredibly dangerous journeys in the backs of lorries.’
She added: ‘Through our close working with the Belgian Federal Police and prosecutors, we have taken out a significant organised crime group involved in bringing migrants to the UK illegally. Dauti was head of that group.’