A first of its kind speed enforcement is about to get underway.

The London local authority will issue fines to drivers who breach 20mph limits.

Wandsworth  will run a pilot scheme for up to eight months, starting this week. If successful, the crackdown could be rolled out across the capital.

A fine idea

Speeding offences are usually enforced by the Police using fixed cameras and mobile patrols. But it tends to concentrate on trunk roads and higher speeds. Roads with 20mph limits are generally unenforced leading to the limits have little affect on traffic speeds. It is believed that by enforcing and making drivers aware of the new strategy will work as a deterrent to speeders allowing 20 mph limit areas to be accurately assessed for their contribution to road safety and reducing casualties.

Drivers caught by the council speed cameras will receive a £130 penalty ticket. However, they’ll escape the three points on their licence as normally results from a police caution. What’s more, the fine will be reduced to £65 if paid within 14 days. Offenders will also avoid having to attend a speed awareness course.

London local

The initial trial in Wandsworth is to target two roads where residents frequently complain about drivers exceeding the speed limit. These are Priory Lane in Roehampton and Wimbledon Park Road.

Recent traffic studies found that one in four vehicles (20-25%) broke the speed limit in Priory Lane and one in five in Wimbledon Park Road.

“Speeding traffic is one of the biggest sources of complaints we receive,” says Wandsworth’s Labour leader Simon Hogg.

“Ensuring drivers stick to the 20mph limit not only improves pedestrian safety levels and encourages more people to walk or cycle, it helps reduce harmful emissions too.

“If judged a success, we will look to make it permanent and carry out enforcement in other parts of the borough where we know vehicle speeds are excessive.”

Nearly half of London roads now have a 20mph limit, and a majority of the 33 boroughs recognise it as the “default” legal maximum. Across the country urban roads are more and more likely to be governed by 20mph limits. It also fits both with EU and World Health Organisation (WHO) campaigns and recommendations to reduce road casualties.

A trial towards ‘vision zero’

Wandsworth will use an experimental traffic order to run the crackdown. Approved by London Councils, representing all 33 boroughs, this is seen as an important test bed for London as a whole.

Income from police speeding tickets normally goes to the Treasury. This time the money raised by the council cameras will be ploughed back into road safety initiatives in the borough.

London mayor Sadiq Khan has embraced the “vision zero” target of no deaths or serious injuries on the capital’s roads by 2041.

Councils are already empowered to use cameras to fine drivers for “moving traffic” offences. These include driving in bus lanes, making banned turns and stopping in yellow box junctions.

Sending the right message

RAC road safety spokesperson Simon Williams says that “one of the biggest complaints about 20mph limits is the fact they are rarely enforced”. He believes this scheme “has the potential to dramatically improve compliance which has to be a positive road safety step”.

Williams also believes the fine only penalty is a good idea. He say it “could be a fairer way of dealing with the problem, particularly as so many drivers tell us they find it hard to drive at 20mph”.

“We would, however, like to see those drivers who speed excessively referred to the police for prosecution as they present a much greater risk to pedestrian and cyclist safety. Consideration should also be given to those who regularly break the limit as it would be very wrong if more affluent drivers continued to disregard 20mph limits just because they can easily afford to pay the fines.”