I first called for tougher action on foreign drivers in February 2013 (see my previous blog here) and have since raised the issue in a number of meetings with the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Transport.
I called again last month for greater action on foreign registered vehicles that have been in the UK for longer than the permissible six months, raising the issue in the House of Commons and asking the Secretary of State for Transport what recent progress the DVLA has made with the UK Border Force and the police on how data can be used to identify foreign registered vehicles that have been in the UK for longer than six months.
It is therefore great news that the Department for Transport have confirmed that they will be taking tougher action on these illegal drivers. Whilst current rules give foreign drivers up to six months to register their car in the UK, plans are being drawn up to ensure that cars are registered as they enter the country, lessening the risk of evasion.
The Department for Transport’s own figures show that only four out of an estimated 15,000 foreign vehicles using Britain’s roads illegally were caught last year and none were prosecuted.
Drivers of these vehicles are avoiding paying for the right to use our roads, and they are costing the taxpayer around £3 million a year in lost revenue as a result. The vehicles are untested, which means they could potentially be unsafe and they are being driven illegally as the drivers do not have the necessary documents to allow them onto our roads.
It is not fair on other motorists who do pay the full costs to drive on our roads, and I think it is only right that tougher action is taken on illegal foreign vehicles.
This is the first in a number of successes to ensure that foreign vehicles do not act to the detriment of our roads, either financially or through safety concerns.
I recently served on a Statutory Instrument Committee (click here to read my blog on this campaign), who reviewed changes to the law to introduce a levy which means lorries weighing 12 tonnes or more, no matter where they come from, make a contribution to the upkeep of our roads. The levy must be paid before using a UK road, with rates depending on the nature of the vehicle.
To help enforce the levy, drivers who haven’t paid will be issued with a fixed penalty notice. Drivers of foreign vehicles who have not paid, and who cannot provide a UK address, will be required to pay an on-the-spot deposit of £300 before they are allowed to continue their journey. This is a good idea as all too often drivers who break our laws simply return home before action can be taken.
Although there is still more work to be done this is a very positive step forward in ensuring that drivers of foreign vehicles pay their way and do not endanger other road-users.