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Postcode lottery for 20mph zones: most fines in Bristol, Bath and Somerset

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Thousands of drivers face £100 fines after municipalities quietly began rolling out 20mph zones.

Avon and Somerset Police sent 23,338 Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) letters to people accused of breaking a 20mph speed limit, followed by South Wales with 8,372 and Cleveland (1,644).

But drivers are facing a postcode lottery in enforcement, with police in Cumbria, Humberside, Lincolnshire and Thames Valley, police have not sent any police at all.

Bedfordshire issued one message, West Mercia two, Staffordshire three, Dorset five and Kent six.

While safety activists point to numbers suggesting 20mph areas reduce road deaths and injuries, many motorists feel they are overused and regularly catch cautious drivers who get caught

Nips informs drivers that they are speeding and gives them the option to accept the fine or challenge it in court. The data showing how much has been spent by each police force was obtained by campaign group Action Vision Zero and shared with the Sunday Times.

While safety activists point to numbers suggesting 20mph areas reduce road deaths and injuries, many motorists feel they are overused and regularly trap cautious drivers if caught.

Motorist Quentin Willson said the zones should be used in “certain areas where there is clear evidence of vulnerability to pedestrians” but that the public should be confident that they are “applied proportionally based on empirical evidence”.

“Blanket 20mph limits will discredit other road safety initiatives and alienate motorists,” he told MailOnline.

“We have to make the public believe that they are being treated fairly and transparently and that any punishment will not threaten their livelihood.

‘The unintended consequence of this is that motorists who otherwise comply with the law become alienated from road safety. There are much more dangerous drivers to chase.’

Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, revealed that he had seen an 800 percent increase in the number of Nips issued to its 10,000 members in the past six months compared to the previous six months.

A vast majority — 80 percent — were for driving more than 20 mph, he said.

“All over London there has been a seismic shift in speed limits and how they are enforced,” he told MailOnline. “We don’t condone speed limit violations, but many of the drivers we represent, who have often driven their entire lives without a fine and with clean licenses, are now getting fines and points at an alarming rate.

“These drivers are being caught by drastically lower speed limits on roads like Park Lane, which have been unexpectedly reduced to 20-mph zones from 40 mph.

“Now that the Met has lowered the speed tolerance against which a prosecution is launched and is working towards an enforcement target of writing one million fines, this has become an even bigger problem and drivers feel they are being unfairly attacked.”

Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association, revealed that he had seen an 800 percent increase in the number of Nips issued to its 10,000 members in the past six months compared to the previous six months.

Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, revealed that he had seen an 800 percent increase in the number of Nips issued to its 10,000 members in the past six months compared to the previous six months.

The Metropolitan Police is doubling the number of patrols in 20mph zones year after year as part of a goal to remove all dead and seriously injured from the transport network by 2041.

It says a pedestrian hit by a vehicle at 20 mph is five times less likely to be fatally injured than at 30 mph.

Across the country, the enforcement level at 20 mph is about half that of those caught speeding on roads and highways at 30 mph and 40 mph.

The penalty escalates from a fixed 24 mph fine to a speed awareness for those caught driving between 24 mph and 50 mph, if they qualify.

Violators speeding over 35 km/h can be fined up to 700 per cent of their weekly income, up to a maximum of £1,000.

Municipalities covering about a third of the country’s built-up area are planning to introduce 20 mph zones, and they are expected to become the standard for a third of roads in Wales from September next year.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, called on local authorities to step up their efforts to explain that motorists in 20mph areas must agree to ‘slow down a bit’ to ‘eliminate the risk that a member of your family dies in a traffic accident’ .

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