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Road Safety Act 2006 [E/NI/S/W]

The Act makes provision for a range of road safety matters.


The majority of the Act extends to Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales). The exceptions are Clauses 1 [Road safety grants], 33 [Enforcement authorities], 34 [Registration plates], 39 [Trunk road and 42 which extend to England and Wales; clauses 35 and 38(1) which extend to the United Kingdom as a whole; and Clause 38(2) which extends to Northern Ireland.


In 2000 the Prime Minister launched the Road Safety Strategy Tomorrow's Roads - Safer for Everyone, which set out the Government's framework for improving road safety, integral to which was the achievement of casualty reduction targets of 40 per cent of those killed and seriously injured (50 per cent for children) by 2010. In 2004 the Government published the first three year review of the Strategy, which evaluated the effectiveness of the Strategy and the likelihood of delivering the 2010 targets. The Road Safety Bill gives effect to several elements of the Government's wider road safety strategy to reduce casualties and it supports the push towards achieving the casualty reduction targets.

The Road Safety Bill was originally debated in the 2003/4 parliamentary session, but fell when the government dissolved before the general election took place in May 2005. This is an amended version of that original Bill.

SUMMARY (as introduced)

The Bill makes provision for a range of road safety matters:

Drink driving

The Bill enables the Secretary of State to require the worst offenders to re-take the driving test. It prevents those offenders at highest risk of re-offending from driving pending medical enquiries and it amends the current drink drive rehabilitation scheme and introduces an experimental scheme for alcohol ignition interlocks.


The Bill provides for graduated fixed penalties for speeding and increases the range of penalty points available for those offences. The fitting to or use of a vehicle carrying speed assessment equipment detection devices will be prohibited by means of regulations and a regulation-making power is given to the Secretary of State to enable him to grant exemptions from speed limits.

Penalties and enforcement

The Bill increases the maximum penalties for various road traffic offences and provides for a graduated fixed penalty scheme for various roadworthiness and other offences which will match the punishment to the severity of the offence. Provision is made to prevent foreign drivers escaping punishment in Great Britain by requiring them to pay a deposit where an offence is committed. To improve enforcement of road traffic legislation, the Bill extends the use of retraining courses to offenders convicted of speeding and careless driving, and confers new enforcement powers on vehicle examiners.

Driver training

The Bill amends the current 'one-size-fits-all' scheme for regulating car driving instructors through a new power to introduce schemes targeted to meet the needs of individual sectors e.g. lorries, buses, off-road and fleet driving. It contains mechanisms to make sure the public has access to information about the performance of individual instructors, their qualifications and services and introduces more flexible powers to extend the user-pays principle to all forms of testing and assessment.

Driver fatigue

To help prevent fatigue related accidents the Bill allows for a pilot of motorway rest areas similar to French 'aires'.

Driver and vehicle licensing

A number of provisions in the Bill contribute to enforcement of road traffic laws through changes to the driver and vehicle licensing systems. These include a power to disclose to foreign authorities driver and vehicle data to combat driving licence and vehicle crime, the mandatory recording of various particulars (mileage, date of birth) on the vehicle register to help prevent 'clocking' fraud and the extension of the current registration scheme for number plate suppliers from England and Wales to the rest of the United Kingdom.

Other measures

The Bill also contains several other measures intended to contribute to the overall programme of improving safety on our roads. These include powers to pay road safety grants to local authorities so that innovative road safety projects can continue to be developed and measures to improve the regulation of the transport of radioactive material.

The clauses are grouped as follows:

  • Clause 1 - Road Safety Grants for local authorities

  • Clauses 2-10 - Fixed penalties, new system of endorsement and foreign drivers

  • Clauses 11-14 - Drink Driving

  • Clauses 15-17 - Speeding

  • Clauses 18-24 - Penalties and Driver Retraining Courses

  • Clauses 25-35 - Driver Training, Testing & Licensing and regulation of registration plate suppliers

  • Clauses 36-38 - Disclosure of information and vehicle licensing and registration

  • Clauses 39-43 - Miscellaneous

Clause 1: Road Safety Grants

Clause 1 replaces and extends the scope of section 40 of the Road Traffic Act (RTA) for England and Wales. The new section 40 enables the Secretary of State (for England) or the National Assembly for Wales (for Wales) to make payments to local authorities, as well as other authorities and bodies, for meeting the whole or part of the capital or running costs of any measure for promoting road safety.

Clause 13: Alcohol ignition interlocks

This clause inserts into the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 (RTOA) new sections 34D, 34E, 34F, 34G and 41B.

Its effect is to give courts the power in certain circumstances to offer offenders the opportunity to participate, at their own expense, in an 'alcohol ignition interlock programme'. Where an offender agrees to this his overall period of disqualification may be reduced. The provision applies to a person who is convicted of a relevant drink driving offence on a second occasion in a period of ten years and is to be disqualified for no less than two years. The period on the programme must be at least twelve months but must not exceed a half of the original unreduced disqualification period. This programme may not be offered to someone for whom an order is made under section 34A (drink drive offenders rehabilitation order).

The Alcohol Ignition Interlock Programme requires the offender to comply with certain conditions. These include elements of education and counselling but a central feature is that the offender may drive only a motor vehicle that is fitted with a alcohol interlock device that is designed to prevent the vehicle being driven until a specimen of breath has been given in which the proportion of alcohol does not exceed a specified amount. If a person interferes with the device to try to prevent it working he commits a new offence, and any failure to comply with the conditions of the programme will result in restoration of the full original disqualification period. The interlock device will be type approved by the Secretary of State and will be set at 9 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath but that may be changed by regulations.

Provision is made for a 'certificate of failing fully to participate' in a programme. In the event of such a certificate being issued the offender must be notified and given an opportunity to appeal to the supervising court. If he makes an appeal the court may allow him to continue on the programme until the outcome of the appeal is known.

Provision is made for approval of programmes by the Secretary of State, or, as respects Wales, the National Assembly for Wales, and, as with courses for drink drive rehabilitation this covers guidance and arrangements for appeal to the Transport Tribunal for an applicant whose approval is denied or withdrawn.

The Secretary of State may vary by regulations the period of ten years that determines whether a previous offence is relevant, the minimum disqualification period before an offender becomes eligible for the programme, the minimum period of the programme and the maximum proportion of the original disqualification period that may be served on a programme.

Clause 14: Experimental period for clause 13

This clause provides for an experimental period for the alcohol ignition interlock programme described in clause 13. The experiment may continue until the end of 2010 but the Secretary of State may specify a later date by order. He may also terminate the restrictions specified for the experimental period. The clause provides for the Secretary of State to designate certain court areas for the purpose of the experiment. During the experimental period the programme would not be offered to persons convicted under Section 3A of the RTA (causing death by careless driving when under influence of drink or drugs).

Clause 19: Breach of requirements relating to children and seat belts

This clause amends Part 1 of Schedule 2 to the RTOA so as to increase the punishment for an offence under section 15(4) of the RTA (driving a motor vehicle in contravention of requirements relating to seat belts where children in rear seat) from level 1 on the standard scale (200) to level 2 (500). This amendment means that the penalty on conviction for a seat belt wearing offence in respect of a child sitting in a rear seat will be the same as that in respect of a child occupying a

Further Information

  1. Road Safety Bill
  2. Road Safety Bill - Explanatory Notes
  3. Road Safety Act 2006