New cameras spot traffic offences

Businessman driving while on phone

%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%Drivers making banned turns or illegally using yellow-box junctions are liable to be caught out by remote cameras in a pioneering initiative by a borough council.

The first unattended CCTV enforcement system for moving traffic offences has been introduced by Redbridge council in east London.
The council said the scheme was working well, with "serious traffic contraventions" captured.

In use at four locations, the system has been designed by the Videalert company and can also catch drivers ignoring restricted access signs.

According to the company, its system combines video analytics and ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) detection to "capture more offences than can be achieved by traditional legacy solutions and will deliver a higher return on investment and compliance whilst increasing road safety wherever it is deployed".

It has been installed using an innovative capital expenditure neutral model, whereby all costs are recovered through the issuing of penalty charge notices (PCNs).

It automates the detection and capture of the moving traffic offences and provides efficient post review and validation processing of the evidence data before automatic posting to the back office system that issues the PCNs.

Redbridge council's environment, transportation and crime committee head, Shoaib Patel, said: "The system was installed to counter the high number of drivers that were ignoring the traffic restrictions that were in place, causing severe safety hazards to pedestrians and other drivers.

"The system is working well and we have captured a number of vehicles committing serious traffic contraventions, which is promising."

Motoring groups have worries about the new system.

AA president Edmund King said: "We are concerned that this automated system is more about harvesting motorists for money and profit than deterring bad driver behaviour.

"There needs to be the safeguard that, if this system starts fining drivers on an industrial scale, an analysis of the problem junctions takes place. The ticket haul may be partly down to the road layout.

"There is also the added concern that, if signing is inadequate, local drivers may learn to be wary but outsiders may be caught time after time for mistakes, minor infringements or circumstances outside their control, such as making way for emergency vehicles."

RAC head of external affairs Pete Williams said: "It is very worrying to hear mention of a phrase like 'will deliver a higher return on investment' in association with a new type of moving traffic offence enforcement camera as it automatically makes you think the council is investing to make money rather than to change driver behaviour.

"Common sense needs to be applied with a new system like this to avoid creating a situation similar to Clapham's 'money box junction' (in south London) where a camera has been positioned in a place where there are clearly issues with the design and layout of the road which leads to motorists repeatedly being caught out.

"If drivers are blatantly ignoring signage, then something needs to be done, but fairness should be key in the use of cameras like these.

"It is encouraging, however, to hear that footage will be reviewed before penalty charge notices are issued as this will hopefully prevent some accidental driver errors being unfairly penalised."

The most economical cars to run
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New cameras spot traffic offences

Official mpg: 57.6mpg
True mpg: 45.4mpg

The third generation Seat Leon is the most economical car to run according to the WhatCar? True mpg test.

It's been a good year for the Spanish manufacturer as the Leon also won the Auto Express New Car Award 2013 after years of missing out to sister brands Volkswagon and Skoda.

The 1.2 TSI 105 has the smallest engine of the top six cars in the WhatCar? lineup, so unsurprisingly is the most efficient of the group.

As well as being efficient it's a great family car. You get plenty of cabin space and an impressive boot size of 380 litres - 65 litres more than in a Ford Focus!

The cheapest in the range is the 1.2 S-trim, but even as a starter model you get a decent standard of equipment with things like air-conditioning, Bluetooth, 5" colour multimedia screen and tyre-pressure monitoring included.

You can buy a new Seat Leon 1.2 TSI 105 S 5-door from £15,850.

Official mpg: 55.4mpg
True mpg: 42.8mpg

The stylish Mazda 3 is second on the list of the most economical family cars to run. And like the Seat you can get a starter model relatively cheaply, but with a generous helping of the best mod cons.

The entry-level SE models come with alloy wheels, Bluetooth and air-conditioning as standard. Plus, in terms of size, the 3 is almost on par with the Seat Leon.

WhatCar? says it's a fun car to drive and although it misses out on the top spot for fuel economy, it's not far off so worth a look.

The 2.0 Skyactiv-G 120 5-door is available from £16,995.

Official mpg: 54.3mpg
True mpg: 42.5mpg

The Audi A3 was named Car of the Year 2013 by WhatCar?, but only manages third place on its list of the most economical family cars to run.

It's not the cheapest motor, but the A3 offers plenty of space with a boot size of 380 litres on the Sportback. That's perfect for a family with a lot of gear to transport.

WhatCar? says it should definitely make the shortlist if you are looking for a decent sized hatchback.

The Audi A3 Sportback 1.4 TFSI 122 5-door can be purchased from £20,200

Official mpg: 52.3mpg
True mpg: 42.1mpg

The Kia Ceed provides an exceptional amount of space (1,318 litres with the seats down) and comfortably transports five adults.

Its large 1.6 engine can almost match the economy of rivals, but WhatCar? says the petrol version of this car is a disappointment compared to the diesel in terms of driver enjoyment.

The Kia Ceed is available in four trim levels. Top level Ceed '4' gets you parallel park assist system (PPAS) which automatically parks your car! But your basic trim '2' isn't exactly rubbish with reverse parking sensors included.

The Kia Ceed '2' 1.6 GDi 133 5-door is available from £16,195 and comes with the Kia seven-year warranty.

Official mpg: 51.4mpg
True mpg: 41.5mpg

The new A-Class looks pretty great with its sharp exterior and smart cabin, and the A180 has attracted high praise from the likes of Top Gear magazine who claim it's enough to rival the BMW1-Series and the Audi A3.

But WhatCar? says that even though safety and equipment levels are up there with the best (you get alloy wheels, Bluetooth and air-conditioning as standard with every model) it's a disappointment to drive.

If you want to be the judge, the A180 is the cheapest Benz you can buy. You can get the A180 BlueEfficiency 122 five-door from £20,370.

Official mpg: 53.3mpg
True mpg: 40.6mpg

Last but not least is the Skoda Octavia.

It's not the most stylish motor of the lineup but WhatCar? reports that the petrol engines are smooth and quiet, while the cabin is a comfortable and spacious place to sit - six-foot adults can sit comfoirtably behind similar-sized adults at the front with leg-room to spare!

If you fancy it the 1.4 TSI 140 is available from £18,390.

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