Graduated Fixed Penalty and Deposit Scheme
On 8 November 2006 the Road Safety Bill was given Royal Assent and became the Road Safety Act 2006. It's impact will be felt on many aspects of everyday life for those members of the driving public and equally those of us within the road transport industry.
The Act allowed the Government to introduce a raft of new road safety measures, many of which came into into force during 2007. What follows here is an overview of the background surrounding Graduated Fixed Penalty Notices (GFPN) and the procedures that will be implemented and adhered to by the enforcement body (VOSA) as well as the Police Authority. The part of the Act concerned with Graduated Fixed Penalties (GFPN) legislation came into force on 31st March 2009.
- Purpose and Intention of the Road Safety Act
- What lies behind the legislation.
- What would be applicable to Drivers and Operators?
- Further Reading
Purpose and Intention of the Road Safety Act
The objective of the Act is to improve compliance with road safety related regulations by making enforcement arrangements and sanctions more consistent, transparent, proportionate and efficient. The Act does not introduce any new regulation, and the effect on law-abiding drivers and operators will be negligible. Indeed they should benefit from better enforcement against law-breakers, and even offending drivers will have the option to avoid the bureaucracy of Court proceedings in many cases, with all the lost time that entails.
What lies behind the legislation.
The Government proposed to rationalise the system of penalties by the introduction of a graduated fixed penalty scheme for commercial vehicles, which is accompanied by a deposit scheme for non-UK resident offenders to ensure they do not escape any penalties they incur.
The proposals arose from a concern that the UK framework of penalties did not represent a sufficient deterrent to infringements by commercial vehicles and their drivers and operators. Many of these infringements have road safety consequences. The system is slow and dependent on the use of the courts, with penalties applied by the courts varying across the country for the same offence, with foreign drivers often escaping penalties altogether.
The Act aims to tackle this problem by:
- a scheme of graduated fixed penalties for offences relating to operating rules for commercial vehicles.
- a deposit scheme, similar to arrangements in many EU countries, to ensure non-UK resident drivers, or those who cannot prove a UK address, do not escape penalties. The scheme would apply to commercial vehicles in the first instance.
- arrangements to allow both the Police and the Vehicle Operator and Services Agency (VOSA) to operate these schemes at the roadside for roadworthiness and other infringements such as overloading and exceeding drivers hours rules.
For those operators who are concerned by the introduction of this, they shouldn't be if they are operating within the scope of the law and doing everything in their power to ensure their drivers are fully trained and their vehicles are maintained to legal operating standards.
What would be applicable to Drivers and Operators?
Certain penalties may be graduated to reflect the nature and severity of offence as well as the time or location of the contravention. The level of fine as well as the number of penalty points may vary. Graduated Fixed Penalty Offences include:-
- Transport Act 1968 - Domestic and EC drivers' hours and recording equipment offences
- Road Traffic Act 1988 - Construction & Use offences and include:-
- - Tyres - less than 1mm tread (regulation 27(1)(g))
- - Excess weight - goods and passenger vehicles
- - Speed limiter offences
- - Danger or nuisance offences involving maintenance, security of load etc. (regulation 100)
Other Legislation applicable here includes:-
- Section 53 Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988
- Fixed Penalty Order 2000
- Road Safety (Financial Penalty Deposit) (Appropriate Amount) Order 2009
Further measures scheduled for introduction in 2010 include graduated penalties with a range of penalty points according to given criteria in respect of excess speed and motorway offences.
This page is merely an overview into the GFPN system and how it will operate. Further information relating to this scheme can be found within this website at the links below, as well as visiting the Office of Public Sector Information to read the Bill in full.