Frequently Asked Questions  
Q

FOREIGN DRIVERS. Do foreign drivers driving cars with foreign plates get away with UK motoring offences, even if they are resident and working in the UK 

A

Yes.

It's a fundamental flaw in a system that relies on identification by registration plate.

According to www.speedsafe.co.uk:

A foreign driver is let off a speeding ticket every six minutes in Britain because speed camera bosses can't be bothered to chase them up, shocking new figures have revealed.

Tens of thousands of foreign drivers dodged a total of nearly £5 million in speeding tickets last year.

Police and the speed camera authorities are turning a blind eye to the overseas 'rogue' drivers and throwing their speeding tickets 'in the bin', they admit.

In stark contrast to the police's zero-tolerance approach to any British drivers flashed for speeding - with a £60 ticket popping through their letterbox - a foreign driver's speeding ticket is written-off on average every six minutes.

This is because the offender is either driving a foreign registered vehicle - or is a foreigner behind the wheel of a UK registered car.

The controversial 'cash for cameras' system gives them no financial incentive to track down the foreign motorists, who it is costly to chase up. So instead they ignore the rogue drivers who pose a danger on UK roads.

In another twist, many foreign motorists are driving illegally with an invalid or expired driving licence.

The huge influx of Eastern European workers from the enlarged EU is adding to the problem.

The Government insists it is examining the loopholes. But the number of foreigners' scrapped speeding tickets has soared 25 per cent to almost 80,000 foreigners - representing lost income of £4.8m.

Last year an estimated £3.8m was lost because foreign speeders were getting away with their offences.

Worst place for the problem is London where 11,894 speeding foreign drivers escaped scot free. The captial was followed by Wiltshire and Swindon (5,202); Thames Valley (3,657); Greater Manchester (1,924); Bedfordshire and Luton (1,785) and Surrey (1,605).

Critics say foreigners who speed on British roads almost always wriggle out of their punishment because the red-tape involved in tracking them down makes it too expensive to bother - effectively giving them a 'get out of jail free card.'

On average up to two per cent of all speeding offences are committed by foreigners who get away without any penalty.

By contrast, British tourists caught speeding on the Continent are much more likely to have to pay up because police across the European Union prefer on-the-spot fines to automatic cameras.

New legislation in France means drivers can face a £260 fine or face having their car impounded.

But even foreign drivers of UK-registered cars get away without fines and points.

The authorities decide it is complicated, costly and time consuming to chase foreigners back to their home country.

The revelation sparked anger from UK motorists, who are chased through the courts by the authorities, and are becoming increasingly fed up with the 'cash cow' cameras.

Britain has more that 6,000 speed camera sites and drivers paid £114m in fines last year.

The statistics have been revealed by 15 of the 38 speed camera safety partnerships who were asked about the foreign drivers loophole in a Freedom of Information survey.

A manager for one of the speed camera partnerships said: "It is very difficult to get a name and address of a foreign registered vehicle.

"Some foreign authorities are not very co-operative but the Government is supposed to be looking into the issue.

"Even if we catch a foreign driver we can't give them a £60 fine because they don't have a UK driving licence.

"If the same foreign number plate keeps turning up we will try to track them down."

The authorities can enter the number into the system so that the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras can try to catch them.

He added: "We often have foreign people who are caught in hire cars and it is very difficult to prosecute them, even though we have a name and address from the hire company.

In the majority of cases, if we get a foreign number plate the ticket will just go straight in the bin.

"It is a loophole that everybody wants to close but we need a Europewide if not a worldwide database or agreement put in place."

The problems are the same with the London congestion charge. In the first two years of its operation more than 60,000 foreign registered cars got away without paying the fee.

A spokesman for the AA said: "Drivers in the UK don't like the idea of foreign motorists getting away scot free - especially because British drivers in France get marched up to a cash machine if they are caught."

Paul Smith of the road safety charity Safe Speed said: "The whole speed camera issue has become a ridiculous game of Monopoly - with foreign drivers using their 'get out of jail free' cards.

"Speed cameras have become onerous, oppressive, distracting and above all hopelessly ineffective.

"Loopholes in the system, such as this massive £5m void, were inevitable." 

 

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