Plans to slap drivers with £100 fines for going 1mph over the speed limit will make roads much more dangerous, the country`s top motoring lawyer has warned
Nick Freeman – known as Mr Loophole for his ability to secure acquittals for a string of list clients – predicts the zero tolerance move being championed by West Mercia Chief Constable Anthony Bangham will create a ‘toxic distraction’ for drivers.
And he questions how Bangham – currently reviewing road safety in his role as the roads policing lead for the National Police Chiefs’ Council – is ‘fit for office’ since his plans will lead to even more accidents on the road.
“I have always maintained that it isn`t speed which kills, it is bad driving,” says Freeman. “And these plans mean that drivers will be completely preoccupied with watching their speedometers rather than the road ahead – which is a recipe for disaster. To drive safely, motorists need to be aware not only of their speed but of so many other elements, such as stopping distances, proximity to other cars and road conditions. Obsessing over the speedometer will lead to drivers repeatedly taking their eyes off the road.”
An official review is now underway into the ‘buffer zone’ speed enforcement guidance that currently protects drivers from punishment if they go slightly too fast.
This allows motorists a potential buffer zone of 10 per cent over the speed limit plus 2 mph before they will be hit with any action.
But in a new report seen by a Sunday newspaper, Chief Constable Bangham, says that current guidance leads drivers to think ‘it is OK to speed’.
He warns colleagues: “We need to change our messaging and ensure greater consistency of approach when dealing with those who exceed the speed limit.”
However, Freeman, whose celebrity clients include Sir Alex Ferguson and Paddy McGuiness, argues that removing this tolerance zone will also mean that attempting to overtake will be an especially hazardous manoeuvre
“How can a driver be expected to safely pass another vehicle – especially a lorry – when doing the same speed? It`s nonsense. And more significantly it`s dangerous”
Mr Freeman further points out that since speedometers in cars are not calibrated it will be very difficult to secure a conviction for those exceeding the limit by one mile or so. This could clog up the courts, drain valuable resources and offer a green light for tens of thousands of motorists to challenge their speeding ticket.
“In my view, it will be legally unenforceable. I don’t think that there is a person in the country who would be prepared to accept a fixed penalty under such circumstances,” Mr Freeman said. “And why are we constantly targeting the motorists when violent crime is at an all-time high and most crime reports end up with no more than a crime reference number.”
He believes that if the police want to enforce the speed more accurately they need to review limits to make sure they are appropriate, including the 70mph limit on the motorway which was set in the 1950s, as it was the top speed of the Ford Anglia.
Only recently the Manchester-based solicitor presented Chris Grayling with a road safety charter based on his suggestions to improve road safety.
“It’s ironic that I`m often accused of being the scourge of road safety And yet here we have the road policing lead for the National Police Chiefs’ Council setting back this cause. Surely it questions how he can even be fit for purpose?”
About Freeman & Co.
Freeman & Co. are a specialist firm of road traffic and criminal defence solicitors based in Manchester but with nationwide coverage.
Freeman & Co. specialise in a wide variety of road traffic cases, ranging from drink driving, speeding and mobile phone offences, to name but a few.
The firm was created by Nick Freeman, who has been dubbed “Mr Loophole” by the press for his technical legal ability and robustly challenging the prosecution.
Nick is well regarded as an expert road traffic lawyer and has successfully represented many high profile clients for a variety of motoring offences as well as criminal offences.
The firm of Freeman & Co. embodies the way Nick works, with minute attention to detail and challenging the prosecution at every turn.
If you are facing a road traffic matter or criminal offence and need the services of Freeman & Co. please call on 0161 236 7007.
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Freeman & Co Solicitors
8 Oxford Court
Tel. 0161 236 7007