Drivers need to fear detection for enforcement to be effective, ITS (UK) conference told

November 07 2019

It does not matter how big punishments for driving misdeeds are, they will not be effective unless motorists believe they may be caught, the ITS (UK) Enforcement Forum Conference has heard.

Enforcement is effective in nudging behaviour, the meeting heard, but because many initiatives are done in isolation, it is difficult to prove whether they have worked or not, but if all policies are looked at holistically, it can show that they have delivered improvements over a period of time.

In a group discussion it was agreed that the fear of being caught has a much greater effect on compliance than increasing punishments that will only be enacted in the unlikely event of the misdeed being seen.

Asked, therefore, variable message signs do not report in real time the number of drivers detected speeding through roadworks on motorways, for example, the group agreed that this could have a negative effect if the media discovered that only a fraction were being fined, or alternatively if the numbers lead to significant revenue which would make the scheme painted as a “cash cow”.

They added that the so-called “war on motorists” needs to be reframed as a “war on bad driving” which would be seen much more positively by the population as a whole.

It remains to be seen, they said, what effect the growing use of dashcams, and their use by Police to help prosecute incidents of bad driving, might have on enforcement, with the possibility that people will drive much more safely given they could be recorded by any of their fellow motorists at any time.

The annual conference, hosted by IBI, sponsored by Videalert and supported by Atkins, also covered a range of important themes for the enforcement industry including an update on Home Office Type Approval, a report on road safety from the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety and a fascinating insight into driver behaviour from a study using sensors and cameras in volunteer drivers’ vehicles.

“Enforcement moves so quickly, not just through technology but also thanks to political priorities,” said Forum Chair Geoff Collins.  “Our Annual Conference helped us keep pace with those changes and left me personally a lot to think about and act on in my day job as a director of Jenoptik.  I’m sure my fellow members had a similarly useful day.”

ITS (UK) Operations Manager Rukshan Soysa added, “With road safety and the environment central to all we do in transport, the Enforcement Forum’s role in keeping up to date with advancements.  With almost all organisations with a role to play represented at our Conference, it showed that ITS (UK) plays a central part in sharing best practice and the fact that this event was free to all members is another way we lead the conversation on transport technology issues.”

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