The Government has announced that cases involving traffic-light jumpers and speeding motorists are to be dealt with by special traffic courts in an attempt bid to free up time for more serious cases.

About half a million motoring are heard in magistrates courts every year and on average take nearly 6 months from offence to completion even though 90% of such offences are guilty pleas or proved in absence. These delays are completely unacceptable and in a move to cut these delays the Ministry of Justice wants to set up traffic courts.

The justice minister Damian Green said: "Enforcing traffic laws is hugely important for road safety and saving lives……The justice system must respond more quickly and effectively to the needs of victims, witnesses and local communities, and these dedicated courts will enable magistrates to better organise their work and drive greater efficiency."

The government is in consultation with the judiciary as to how the traffic courts can be delivered across the country.

The nine police areas have trialled the new traffic courts - Essex, Hampshire, Kent, Lincolnshire, Metropolitan police, Nottinghamshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and West Yorkshire. According to Chief Constable Chris Eyre, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) these courts have radically simplified and speeded up the process, reduced the amount of adjournments and a single court can deal with up to 160 cases a day. He said "This is only implemented when there is a guilty plea or where the case against a defendant is not contested”.

As a personal injury lawyer representing injured vulnerable road users, cyclists and pedestrians one of the most frustrating aspects of my job is failure on the part of the police and CPS to taking motoring offences seriously. All to often a decision is taken not to prosecute a motorist on the basis that it is felt that that is insufficient evidence to secure a conviction. I welcome the news that special courts are to be set up but I hope that this will mean that serious motoring cases are dealt with effectively and are properly resourced. It is important that dangerous drivers are dealt with appropriately by the courts and this should include driving bans.

If the special traffic courts will result in reducing court backlogs this must be welcome development. The special courts must not however be seen as undermining the importance of compliance of traffic laws.


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