Fleet News

Congestion zone fears unfounded

Concerns that company drivers will rack up a larger number of fines because of the extended congestion charge zone in London have proved unfounded, a new survey suggests.

Since February, the zone has extended to include most of Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster, and bosses at the UK’s biggest leasing company say their own statistics show company car and van drivers are better informed about how the system works.

They say the number of fines received a month before the extension to the zone and two months afterwards have remained steady.

Fines rose from 927 between January 19 to February 19 to 982 between March 19 and April 19, an increase of just under 6.5%.

Lex managing director Jon Walden said: “Since the congestion charge was introduced in 2003, the administration linked to processing driver fines has taken a while to settle down.

“However, with this zone extension, drivers seem better informed on how the charge works and that they are responsible for their own fee. Company car drivers seem to have digested this latest extension to the zone.

“The reduction in the charge period from 6.30pm to 6pm seems to have made a difference.

“Drivers returning home after a hard day on company business would often stray into the zone between 6pm and 6.30pm forgetting it was still live. The half-hour reduction has helped overcome this issue.”

The congestion charge was introduced in the capital in February 2003, and during each month of 2004 Lex was receiving up to 2,000 fines. This has reduced to its current levels of below 1,000.

Although fleets may have grasped the concept of paying for using the congestion zone, they were warned last week that an increasing number of drivers are being fined for traffic offences such as jumping red lights and stopping in yellow box junctions.

A survey of 130,000 drivers carried out by vehicle management company LeasePlan found that during the first quarter of 2007, the monthly average for such traffic offences was up by 28% on 2006 levels (Fleet News, May 24).

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