Labour considers rewarding drivers for sticking to speed limit

Measure among those considered as party seeks to woo drivers for their votes

by Simon_MacMichael   January 4, 2011  

Palace Of Westminster At Night © Andrew Dunn.jpg

The former Labour government may have been accused by the Conservatives of waging a “war on the motorist,” but proposals being considered by Shadow Transport Secretary Maria Eagle suggest that the party is looking to position itself as the driver’s friend, with plans potentially including rewarding those who drive within the speed limit.

The about-turn in the party’s motoring policy, outlined by Ms Eagle in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, comes as Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband seeks to win back voters from what he terms the “squeezed middle.”

Eagle accepts that the party had become unpopular among motorists while it was in power, saying, “By the end I think there was a perception among motorists that we were not their friends. The perception was that we were about soaking them for money. It was felt that cameras were about catching them on the hop and fining them, money raising arrangement rather than a road safety arrangement.”

One example of how the party’s policy could be repositioned as being more focused on road safety comes through the use of average speed cameras, which record the speed between two points, says Eagle.

"The speed cameras are capturing the data, the speed and number plates of the cars that go through,” she explained.

"I have seen lately this idea actually if you were to use the information you get from them to have a lottery, have a draw of those who drive under the speed limit,” she continued.

"It's not just seen as a way of catching people who drive too fast. It might make people understand there is a point to it.

"There is an incentive for good behaviour which is perhaps better psychologically than a disincentive for bad behaviour,” Ms Eagle added.

Another approach could be giving a discount to drivers renewing their vehicle excise duty if it could be shown that they had remained within the speed limit.

Since coming to power, the coalition government has withdrawn funding for new speed cameras and the reduction in the road safety grant has also forced a number of councils to turn their cameras off, but Ms Eagle believes they have a valuable role to play in road safety.

"I think in some cases speed cameras can make a vital contribution to road safety.

“If you live in a village with one street which people go through really quickly and have a kid with a propensity to run through the gate, you might quite like a speed camera.”

The politician acknowledges that in devising policies that could appeal to motorists, she risks drawing fire from environmental activists within her own party, but Ms Eagle maintains, “I don't myself start with any ideological position over motorists.”

She continues, "Like most people [I] use all forms of transport. I don't myself believe it is the job of government to be telling people what forms of transport they should use in their everyday lives.

“If you have two or three kids and they don't all go to the same school and you work, it is just not sensible to tell people like that to wait for the bus,” she continued.

"In those circumstances it makes sense to have a private car.”

Parking is another area in which Ms Eagle is keen to draw up policies that would appeal to motorists, moving away from the current system in which they can be fined for technical issues such as failing to display a ticket properly, even when they have bought one.

"They don't mind paying for parking so long as it is reasonable, they don't mind controlled parking, but what they don't like is that people are trying to catch them out,” insists Ms Eagle.

Not everyone is pleased by Labour’s apparent volte-face over its motoring policy, however, which previously sought to try and discourage car use by higher taxes.

Stephen Joseph, chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, told The Daily Telegraph: “Anything the government does influences behaviour and if it is to tackle climate change and congestion it will have to do something and this can be done by smart taxation.”

Andrew Howard of the AA was more receptive to Labour’s apparent change of strategy, however, saying “I think we have to be pleased that the penny has dropped,” particularly since the news came as motorists faced not only increased taxation from the government but also higher petrol prices due to “the increased price of oil on the world market.”
 

13 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Wow, this could be right out of Brave New World: we'll track you everywhere you go, but that's OK because one of you may win a prize. I prefer cameras that only track people breaking a very specific and well-defined law, and even then I'm only OK with that because so many people are breaking it.

Regarding the general pull-back on actually making motorists responsible for a few of the negative effects they have on the wider world: this is exactly how modern politics works. You don't set out policies to achieve a considered goal anymore, you tinker with ideas while in opposition until you find some that will appeal to the great unwashed public out there, who themselves have been educated not to have convictions anymore. Then, when you eventually get into power, you tell the civil service to make these inane policies work, and those that are affordable become laws. The problems with that are (a) it's a moronic form of mismanagement and (b) specious crapola like this "War on Motorists" meme shifts society to an ever more reactionary position.

posted by handlebarcam [527 posts]
4th January 2011 - 10:17

like this
Like (2)

Perhaps I should be rewarded for not burgling my neighbour's house. Confused

One key issue is that people tend to get a skewed perspective of a "safe" speed when they are behind the wheel of a modern car. If you are on a push bike or trying to walk across a road you get a very different perspective. Unfortunately driving seems to be an activity that reduces empathy, ever encouraging isolation and selfishness.

posted by DNAse [22 posts]
4th January 2011 - 11:14

like this
Like (3)

It's a joke. Too much brandy in Dame Anna Neagle's left-over Christmas pud, surely! I hope if I ever become a politician I'm always in opposition and never in government - it's all so much easier!!!

simonmb's picture

posted by simonmb [360 posts]
4th January 2011 - 11:21

like this
Like (2)

What a clueless decision. Have these guys actually looked at the results of what happens when you reward people for behaviour in this way? The first thing they do is assume that the behaviour they are getting rewarded for is undesirable to do. After all why would they be getting rewarded to do it?

There's nothing but worrying news coming out lately from the government about the future of cycling. Clearly they are being ill advised and cycling organisations need to step up their game to prevent bad decisions being made.

posted by londoncyclist [13 posts]
4th January 2011 - 11:31

like this
Like (2)

It'd never happen (I hope!), it's one of those "appeal to the Daily Mail readers" headlines that comes out whenever the Government (or the Opposition) have nothing better to say or do. Most of these headlines are completely bonkers, unworkable, impractical or all three.

What I'd like to see is a scrapping of "road tax" (yes, I know it's not called that but then I don't read the Daily Mail!) and replace it with a properly thought through road pricing system. Drive more = pay more, simple. Provided that it was balanced with a well thought out public transport system, that would cut car use dramatically.

Unfortunately, it wouldn't grab headlines in the same way so politicians won't do it.

posted by crazy-legs [475 posts]
4th January 2011 - 11:40

like this
Like (2)

crazy-legs wrote:

What I'd like to see is a scrapping of "road tax" (yes, I know it's not called that but then I don't read the Daily Mail!) and replace it with a properly thought through road pricing system. Drive more = pay more, simple.

Fuel Dutys and VAT on Fuel is already linked to this - the more fuel you use, the more tax you pay. I think Petrol is about 70% tax at the moment. It's not so simple to calculate as the Duty is fixed on per litre, and VAT is on the total cost charged by the provider.

Drive harder/further/have a larger/more polluting vehicle, then you use more fuel and pay more money in tax.

posted by creepymonkey [31 posts]
4th January 2011 - 13:39

like this
Like (1)

Here's a headline from the Isle of Man about an incident that happened yesterday http://www.manxradio.com/newsread.aspx?id=49442

Orignally it was thought that a motorcyclist had crashed - headlines then didn't seem to think that what was presumed to be a biker had "forced" the closure.

Let's hope the cyclists makes a full recovery

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4131 posts]
4th January 2011 - 15:59

like this
Like (1)

Quote:
She continues, "Like most people [I] use all forms of transport. I don't myself believe it is the job of government to be telling people what forms of transport they should use in their everyday lives.

I'd counter that 'most people' don't use all forms of transport at all. Just cars.

Quote:
“If you live in a village with one street which people go through really quickly and have a kid with a propensity to run through the gate, you might quite like a speed camera.”

I don't live there. but i'd still like a speed camera, because i can understand statistics, and the difference between the public 'thinking' that speed cameras are there to raise money, and that actually 'being' the case which it demonstrably is not.

cactuscat's picture

posted by cactuscat [301 posts]
4th January 2011 - 17:19

like this
Like (3)

Quote:
She continues, "Like most people [I] use all forms of transport. I don't myself believe it is the job of government to be telling people what forms of transport they should use in their everyday lives.

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/maria_eagle/garston_and_halewood#travel...

she drives, and gets the train a lot then. maybe that £58 out of £25,885 in the last three years is for buses or cycling...

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7233 posts]
4th January 2011 - 17:44

like this
Like (1)

As a non-driver, I have simply never understood what is so bloody hard about obeying the rules governing how fast one may drive a vehicle on the highway. For that reason I have never grasped the moral basis for the outrage against measures to penalise people who don't obey those rules, or the need to appease those so outraged.

However, that Labour should be currying favour with the Clarkson-for-President shower 41/2 years ahead of a general election and at a time when Milliband alternates between invisibility and gormlessness is not surprising in the slightest. This rubbish will feature in no manifesto. But it's still annoying.

posted by BigDummy [273 posts]
4th January 2011 - 18:51

like this
Like (4)

How about not prosecuting motorists who are driven into for driving below the speed limit instead? That's what 2011 has in store for me...

If cycling is indeed a sport of self-abuse why aren't more cyclists sectioned under the mental health act?

posted by hairyairey [275 posts]
4th January 2011 - 19:41

like this
Like (1)

If they are planning to reward motorists for not speeding, I'd love to see what kind of reward they'd give me for not owning a car and cycling everywhere (+not speeding whilst doing it).

I expect I'll be hitting the jackpot.

posted by mr_colostomy [29 posts]
6th January 2011 - 17:21

like this
Like (5)

hairyairey wrote:
How about not prosecuting motorists who are driven into for driving below the speed limit instead? That's what 2011 has in store for me...

you're being prosecuted for driving below the speed limit?

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7233 posts]
6th January 2011 - 18:26

like this
Like (1)