The Plan for Drivers policy paper – what does it mean for you?

The Plan for Drivers policy paper – what does it mean for you?
Published in October 2023, Transport Secretary Mark Harper’s ‘Plan for Drivers’ set out actions that the Conservatives would carry out to help car owners across the country.

In recent years, there have been several contentious issues that have impacted drivers.

As he states in the foreword to the paper, ‘this long-term plan will address key elements of those concerns.

But how will these announcements really impact drivers and road users in Britain?

LTNs

One of the key aims of the Government’s paper was to ‘stop unfair enforcement’ against drivers.

This has led to new guidance on low traffic neighbourhoods (LTN).

There will now be a focus on the importance of local support and that councils should review existing LTNs.

RAC head of policy, Simon Williams commented: “Low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) which are introduced in the right places and have been well consulted on can have lots of benefits.

“But on the flip side, those that fail on both these counts and simply displace traffic onto peripheral roads causing more congestion and air pollution don’t help anyone.

“The PM has already ordered a review of LTNs in England and being clearer with councils about the criteria they must meet if they want to introduce a scheme makes perfect sense.”

National Parking Platform

Parking has been a challenge for drivers in recent years.

With rising parking fines (in both the number of them and cost) as well as payment machines being replaced by apps – there have been growing concerns for drivers.

The paper outlines the need for better parking technology.

As a result, the Government is looking to deliver the new National Parking Platform – which will be open to parking providers across the UK – by autumn 2024, ending the need to use multiple parking apps.

Williams said: “Paying for parking should be one of the simplest things any driver has to do, yet the reality has been anything but with people forced to download and register a plethora of different mobile apps depending on where they are in the country.

“The roll-out of the National Parking Platform therefore brings about some much-needed simplification and should make drivers’ lives easier.

“However, we remain concerned about the fact some councils seem intent on removing all physical parking ticket machines in favour of app-only payment – something research tells us a clear majority drivers are resolutely against.”

Councils introducing new 20mph speed limits

For drivers in England, there was updated guidance for drivers in England on 20mph speed limits.

The Government acknowledges that while 20mph zones are an important tool in improving road safety in residential areas, over-use risks undermining public acceptance of them as a safety measure for all road users.

As a result, future and current 20mph zones will be considered and reviewed on a road-by-road basis to ensure local consent is present in all decision making.

Williams commented: “In the case of 20mph limits, we have long said that in the right places slow speeds deliver valuable safety benefits, especially on residential streets, around schools and in places where there are lots of pedestrians and cyclists.

“Putting them on roads where motor vehicles predominate and there is no conflict with other road users however makes no sense.

“Councils already have to go through a process of introducing Traffic Regulation Orders to reduce speeds from say 30mph to 20mph, so we wait to see how any new policy differs from this.”

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Yellow box junction enforcement

In the policy paper, it highlighted that when it comes to traffic enforcement around yellow box junctions.

Drivers believe that yellow boxes are confusing and face parking charge notices (PCNs) as a result.

The paper sets out a plan to ‘develop sector-led guidance on a fair, proportionate and consistent enforcement approach for local authorities outside London using moving traffic enforcement powers for the first time, especially for yellow box junctions’.

Williams said: “With dozens of councils in England about to enforce yellow box junctions, we’re pleased the Government has listened to our concerns about the potential for drivers to be unfairly fined.

“The move to prevent them abusing these new powers is welcome as is the commitment to update the guidance on where these junctions should be used and how they should be set up properly.

“While it’s clearly wrong that drivers stop in these junctions and block them for others, it’s vital that they are fairly set up so that they can be easily negotiated with no chance of a driver being stranded on one through no fault of their own.

“Our research shows many are too big and it’s often impossible to see where some end, making it extremely difficult for drivers to know whether they can drive through without stopping. Some are even being used where they shouldn’t be.

“Had the Government not intervened we fear councils would have had a field day collecting unfair fines from drivers, causing unnecessary stress and financial hardship.”

Bus lane enforcement

Finally, when it comes to the management of bus lanes in Britian, the paper simply explained that bus lanes in the future will only ever be used where they are actually useful.

The paper issued updated guidance on how to make sure bus lanes help rather than hinder traffic by operating only when buses are running, or when traffic is heavy enough to cause delay to buses.

Williams said: “The RAC has always raised questions about bus lane enforcement as there have been far too many cases over the years where large numbers of drivers have been fined in particular locations.

“This usually implies that signage is poor causing motorists to accidentally drive in a bus lane when they shouldn’t have.

“Most drivers don’t deliberately set out to break the rules and incur fines. The Government’s plans should help limit the number of motorists who fall foul of bus lane cameras while hopefully still ensuring buses run on time.

“We badly need to create an integrated transport network that works for everyone, including motorists. 

“Bus lanes are key to that as they help to ensure services run on time in rush-hour when traffic is high, but outside of that can sometimes make traffic worse by limiting the amount of available road space which is something we can well do without.

“It’s important to realise that eight in 10 drivers tell us they would struggle to get by without access to a car.”

What do you make of the ‘Plan for Drivers’? Will it make a positive impact? Leave your comments below.

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*Max 40% applies to new Extra and Complete for 1 vehicle or 1 person. Ends 17/07/24, 7am. ^ £6.75 for Basic, not on sale. 

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