Transport Committee launches inquiry into traffic law enforcement

12.00 | 2 October 2015 | | 7 comments

The Transport Committee has announced that it is to conduct an inquiry into road traffic law enforcement.

Charged by the House of Commons, the role of the committee is to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the DfT and its associated public bodies.

The objective of the inquiry is to scrutinise how effectively the Government’s policies to improve road safety, by tackling dangerous or careless driving, are being enforced.

The committee is asking for written submissions to help form the basis of the inquiry.

The committee is particularly interested in receiving submissions on the Government’s priorities and leadership role in improving road safety through traffic law enforcement.

The inquiry’s terms of reference also include examining the enforcement agencies’ capacity to enforce DfT policy on dangerous and careless driving, the impact of road traffic law enforcement on the safety of cyclists and pedestrians and the deployment of people and technology in enforcing road traffic policy.

It will also look at the introduction of fixed penalty notices for careless driving: how these powers are being used, and whether alternatives to penalties should be considered.

Sentencing for offences will not be covered in the inquiry as this falls under the remit of other Government departments.

The Transport Committee is asking to receive written submissions by Monday 12 October 2015.


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    The point that seems to be forgotten is that a traffic officer does not only deal with RT matters, they are first & foremost a police officer. The issue that Ch. Cons have to deal with is reduction in numbers and RT policing has borne the brunt. Yes there are still some out there but they are tasked outside of that general duty and the professionalism and specialism is being diluted. If they were wildlife they would be on an endangered list!

    Olly, Lancs
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    The inquiry would have to be thorough enough to determine what the level of policing and automatic detection technology would have to be to start making any difference. It will obviously always be impossible to detect EVERY offence on a daily basis, so which ones are prioritised? The police do not necessarily prosecute or even follow up on all the offences they may see now, even if a collsion has resulted. I wonder by how much the current levels of detection would have to be ramped up to start catching up with the number of offenders on the roads?

    One more thing – let’s hope the inquiry asks the right people, the right questions! Less of the academia and more of the practical knowledge and experience!

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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    Honor and Duncan are quite right, society has invested many £millions into road safety interventions, often without any real evidence of benefit. We have actually spent more tax-payers money trying to estimate the effect of some interventions afterwards, than it would have cost to run them within scientific trials in the first place! Some of the benefits of scientific trials:

    1) the most accurate evidence possible in the real world
    2) cheaper than trying to estimate effects
    3) directs scarce resources towards their most efficient use
    4) allows theories to be tested against practice, thereby improving the theories and leading to new ideas
    5) lives saved and serious injuries prevented, proved beyond reasonable doubt

    It’s great to see that the Transport Committee is meeting to perform this evaluation, but their job would have been made much easier had they had the results of scientific trials to consider. Arguably, had scientific trials been the norm in road safety, no inquiry would even have been necessary.

    I wish the Transport Committee all the best and look forward to the results of their deliberations.

    Dave Finney, Slough
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    The basic idea behind systems thinking is to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t work. If the evidence is neutral then that would represent a significant problem. Continuing with a course of action when you have no evidence either way that it works represents a considerable waste of time, money and resources.

    It should be remembered that the original reason for scientific trials was to reveal the truth behind claims for the effectiveness of patent remedies and quack medicines. Dave Finney’s standards may well be exacting in this regard, but they are the very best way of rooting out the truth of any claim. The Kirkpatrick learning evaluation model as mentioned is nothing like a well structured trial so I’m not sure why it was offered up as a viable alternative.

    Duncan MacKillop. No surprise – No accident.
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    Surely lack of “scientific trials” only means that the trials conducted do not meet Dave Finney’s definition. You can conduct trials and analyse them at Kirkpatrick levels 1,2,3 and 4.

    Road safety initiatives are not pills where use can be strictly administered and placebos used to provide controls.

    The constant call for “scientific controls” from some quarters would appear to be merely a smokescreen for their own prejudices.

    Rod King, 20’s Plenty for Us
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    The lack of “scientific trials” means that there is no evidence that either proves or to disproves the effectiveness and value of campaigns, training and enforcement work – a neutral position.

    Honor Byford, Chair, Road Safety GB
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    I suppose the first question that needs to be answered is if road safety can actually be improved through the mechanism of enforcement? It might be wise to remember that the three E’s were actually an invention of the American automobile manufacturers back in the 20’s to divert attention from the safety performance of their cars. Since then however the three E’s have become an article of faith, but is there any substantive evidence to back this up?

    As Dave Finney reminds us there have never been any scientific trials carried out on any safety interventions, including enforcement activities, so it will be interesting to see what evidence will be presented to the transport committee.

    Duncan MacKillop. No surprise – No accident.
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

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