A brand-new portable camera is out to catch motorists breaching bus lane rules in County Durham.
The portable enforcement camera will be deployed at sites across the county, with the first one set to be Durham City’s North Road.
Durham County Council will start using the camera later this month when it takes over responsibility for enforcing bus lane rules from Durham Constabulary.
The camera works via an automatic system of number plate recognition. For the first two weeks, motorists snapped misusing bus lanes will receive a warning letter.
From Monday 30th September, they will be hit with a £60 penalty charge notice, reduced to £30 if paid within a fortnight.
Money raised from these fines will be spent on improvements to County Durham’s road network.
The council regularly receives complaints about motorists driving illegally in bus lanes and about the lack of a response to such contraventions from the authorities.
The complaints come from residents, councillors, bus companies, taxi drivers and the Durham Licensed Taxi Association.
An analysis of CCTV footage from North Road in July 2018 showed 66 contraventions in just nine hours.
Durham Constabulary has also received numerous complaints about driving in bus lanes and about motorists ignoring ‘No Entry Except Buses’ signs.
Demands on the time of police officers, however, have meant the constabulary has sometimes struggled to enforce bus lane laws. It is hoped that passing the responsibility for such enforcement to the council will free up officers to deal with core police matters.
Durham County Council’s strategic traffic manager, Dave Wafer, said, “Bus lane restrictions are important and we want drivers to know that there are consequences to breaching them.”
“When motorists use bus lanes as a shortcut or to bypass queuing traffic, it not only affects the reliability of the bus network, but it can impact on road safety and traffic flow, including cyclists and pedestrians.”
“We hope the enforcement camera will make motorists think twice before misusing bus lanes in the future, and the public will support us in ensuring County Durham’s roads are safe for all.”
For more information about bus lanes in County Durham, please go to https://www.durham.gov.uk/article/3513/Bus-lanes-and-bus-stops.
(This article’s featured image shows North Road in Durham City.)