Policy paper

The plan for drivers

Published 2 October 2023

Applies to England


There’s nothing wrong with driving. Most of us use a car and, for many, life would not be liveable without their car. For those in rural areas, it is a lifeline. A car can hugely expand the independence of a younger person, as well as keep older people connected to key services and their families.

Walking, cycling and public transport are necessary in a multi-modal transport system and we support their continued growth, but they are not the right choice for everyone’s journey. Being pro-public transport does not mean being anti-car. The easy political choice is to vilify the private car even when it’s been one of the most powerful forces for personal freedom and economic growth in the last century. Used appropriately and considerately, the car was, is, and will remain a force for good.

It is not right that some drivers feel under attack.

This long-term plan will address key elements of those concerns. We will explore options to stop local councils using so-called “15-minute cities”, such as in Oxford, to police people’s lives; we will restrain the most aggressively anti-driver traffic management measures. We will make it clear that 20mph speed limits in England must be used appropriately where people want them – not as unwarranted blanket measures. We will take steps to stop councils profiting from moving traffic enforcement.

Cars’ environmental impacts are often held up as a reason for anti-driver measures, but the shift to cleaner vehicles makes this increasingly unjustified. We can decarbonise and maintain our freedoms. Zero emission vehicles are better for the planet, for the neighbourhoods they drive through and for the people who use them. More and more, people are making this choice.

With government support, the robust and reliable network of public charging devices has grown. There are now more than 48,100 public chargepoints, a 43% increase since September last year. This includes more than 8,900 rapid devices. There are more chargepoints per electric vehicle (EV) in the UK than there are in Norway, even though 80% of new car purchases in Norway are EVs. Government funding is available to support chargepoint infrastructure at homes, workplaces, on residential streets and across the wider roads network.

The introduction of 20mph speed limits in all residential areas in Wales and the expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone in London has shone a spotlight on the issues drivers are facing. All this means now is the right time to make a step change in how we help drivers. The measures in this plan will make driving as straightforward, smooth, fair, environmentally responsible and safe as possible.

We will draw from the best in technological innovation to enable traffic to flow more smoothly and with fewer hold-ups. We will remove annoyances that irritate many drivers and get in their way, like by making parking less of a headache. We will reform driving penalties and restrictions to be fair, transparent and limited to where there is a legitimate road safety case. We will crack down on the inconsiderate behaviour of a minority of drivers who make driving more dangerous for many. And crucially, we will continue to work towards our legally binding net zero targets by helping people feel confident and able to make the transition to cleaner vehicles and ensure the necessary supporting infrastructure is in place.

None of this replaces the significant investment we’ve made in public transport and active travel. It sits alongside them as part of our long-term plan to help people across our country travel in the way that works best for them.

Rt Hon Mark Harper MP Secretary of State for Transport

Responding to drivers’ priorities

Most adults in the UK drive. There are 50 million people with a driving licence in Great Britain and around 40 million licensed vehicles across Great Britain. People drive for longer – the proportion of people aged 70 or over holding a full driving licence has increased from 45% in 2002 to 73% in 2022. Even among younger people aged 17 to 24, 85% expect to be driving regularly in the future, despite only 56% doing so now. And there are good reasons for this: driving allows people to work, access education, healthcare and shopping, enjoy recreation and meet friends and family.

Cars are the most popular mode of personal travel, comprising 58% of trips in 2022 and 78% of distance travelled. The car is the most frequently used mode of transport for commuting. Given the importance that people place on being able to drive and the economic activity this creates, it is right that the government does what it can to fix the issues people experience when driving or dealing with the administration around motoring.

Since 2010, the government has made significant improvements in our road network and providing better services for drivers. During this period, we have:

Helped drivers with the cost of living

There has been no increase in the main fuel duty rate since January 2011. In March 2023, the rates of fuel duty were maintained for another year, by extending the temporary 5p fuel duty cut and cancelling the planned inflation increase for 2023 to 2024. The current cut along with the inflation freeze represents a saving for households and businesses this year of overall around £5 billion, and £10 billion over the 2 years following the introduction of the cut.

Tackled rip-off fuel retailers

The government is giving drivers the tools they need to shop around and will monitor prices while it considers whether further action is needed to protect consumers. It will create a statutory open price data scheme for retail road fuel prices so that consumers can make informed decisions on where to fill up.

Invested in our roads

Through the first 2 road investment strategies, covering 2015 to 2025, we have committed £41.6 billion for investment in the strategic road network, which carries a third of all traffic mileage. This has delivered substantial improvements, such as the A14 upgrade between Cambridge and Huntingdon.

Improved road safety

The UK has some of the safest roads in the world, in part thanks to long-running campaigns and actions to encourage responsible driving and penalise those who drive dangerously. Since April 2017, we have invested £100 million in improving the top 50 most high-risk roads in England. In April 2023, we added a further £47.5 million to the fund. Across all 83 road safety schemes, this investment is set to prevent around 2,210 fatal and serious injuries over the next 20 years.

Accelerated the infrastructure to support zero emission cars

The UK EV charging infrastructure strategy set out the government’s vision and commitments to make EV charging cheaper and more convenient. On average, over 720 chargers were added to the UK public charging network each month in 2022. The government has also supported the installation of more than 400,000 chargepoints in homes and businesses. Last year, 16% of newly registered cars were fully electric.

Made it easier to tax vehicles and update their details online, ending the outdated paper tax disc in 2014

Moving services online has delivered smoother, quicker results. In 2022 to 2023, over 95% of applications for driving licences made online were issued within 3 working days.

We continue to make substantial investment in our public transport and active travel options, giving more people more choice about how they can best make their journey.

We want to help people get about easily, safely and sustainably – not to force people to use one mode of travel or another or to price poorer drivers off the road. And while the cars we drive may be changing, the things that matter most to drivers remain the government’s priority. 

Some drivers feel measures are being taken that mostly favour the interests of non-drivers. This plan aims to redress that, by showing that alongside the measures the government is taking to make walking and cycling more attractive and to support local buses and rail travel, we are also on the side of drivers and working to make their lives easier.

Ministers listen carefully to drivers’ representatives via the independently chaired Motorists Forum. Research by organisations such as the AA, the RAC and Transport Focus provides an insight into drivers’ top concerns.

The cost of motoring is a key issue, which is why we have already taken decisive action to reduce fuel duty to offset rising global fuel prices. Drivers are also concerned about how easy it is to get around, staying safe while they do so, and the impact inconsiderate drivers have on their journeys.

Heeding these messages, our plan is for:

  1. Smoother journeys.
  2. Stopping unfair enforcement.
  3. Easier parking.
  4. Cracking down on inconsiderate driving.
  5. Helping the transition to zero emission driving.

This document sets out what we have done, where issues remain and what more we are going to do to fix them so that drivers can have confidence that they are getting a fair deal alongside other road users. That is all drivers want. Services should be easy to use, rules fair, enforcement proportionate and costs of motoring kept under control. We are committed to those principles. And as a demonstration, through this plan, we are announcing 30 new steps the government will take to help drivers.

The plan for drivers: actions

All measures set out in the plan for drivers apply to England only unless otherwise specified.

Smoother journeys

1. Bus lanes only when they are needed. Strengthen guidance to make sure bus lanes help rather than hinder traffic by operating only when buses are running, or when traffic is heavy enough to cause delay to buses.

2. Making better use of bus lanes. Issue a revised Traffic Advisory leaflet to guide local authorities on allowing motorcycles to use bus lanes and hold a consultation about whether motorcycle access should be standard.

3. Safer breakdown recoveries. Permitting red flashing lights for breakdown vehicles, helping to protect recovery drivers by making them more visible at the roadside. This measure will apply to England, Scotland, and Wales.

4. Smarter road closures. Support councils to introduce more Lane Rental schemes, which reduce roadworks by incentivising utilities to avoid the busiest roads at the busiest times. This has been successful in London, and we want to see them nationwide, stopping lengthy road closures for utility works.

5. Fixing roads faster. Consult on requiring local authorities with Lane Rental schemes to use at least 50% of any surplus on pothole repairs or resurfacing.

6. Encouraging efficient street works. Consult on extending fines for overrunning street works at weekends and increasing fixed penalty notices.

7. Harnessing the latest road technology. Roll out the Live Labs 2 programme to explore new, low-carbon and high-tech ways of managing local highway networks, supporting the transition to net zero carbon local roads and infrastructure. This measure will apply UK-wide.

8. Better road data. Develop a New Road Condition Data Standard to provide local authorities with access to new technologies, enabling them more easily to identify and deal with road defects like potholes.

9. Better traffic lights. A £30 million fund to upgrade traffic signal systems, replacing unreliable and obsolete equipment to improve reliability.

10. Smarter traffic lights. A £20 million ‘Green Light Fund’ to tune up traffic signals to better reflect current traffic conditions and get traffic flowing.

11. Cutting-edge traffic flow management. Funding worth £20 million to deploy advanced technology for traffic signals, making use of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to optimise traffic flow and balance traffic across city centres.

Stopping unfair enforcement

12. Right speed limits in the right places. Update 20mph zone guidance for England to help prevent inappropriate blanket use.

13. Stop local authorities using so-called “15-minute cities” to police people’s lives. Consult on measures including the removal of local authorities’ access to Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) data to enforce such schemes by camera.

14. New guidance on low traffic neighbourhoods (LTN). Focus on the importance of local support and consider as part of the LTN review how to address existing LTNs that have not secured local consent.

15. Fair fines. Strengthen government and sector-led guidance on enforcement of moving traffic offences, such as entering yellow box junctions, to ensure consistency and stop drivers from being penalised unfairly.

16. Take the profit out of traffic enforcement. Call for evidence on options to restrict local authorities’ ability to generate surpluses from traffic offences and over-zealous use of traffic enforcement powers.

Easier parking

17. Better parking technology. Deliver the new National Parking Platform – will be open to parking providers across the UK – by autumn 2024, ending the need to use multiple parking apps.

18. Challenge unfair parking rules. Consult on revising guidance about the public’s right to challenge local authority parking policies.

19. Find parking more easily. Digitised traffic regulation orders will help easily identify where it is legal to park anywhere in the country.

Inconsiderate driving

20. Fairer insurance claims. Consult on removing the right of uninsured drivers to claim compensation for property damage. This measure will apply to England, Scotland and Wales.

21. Better driving. Communications campaign and enforcement to tackle lane hogs and other inconsiderate driving on the motorway.

22. Quieter neighbourhoods. Allow local councils to roll out noise cameras to target unacceptable vehicle modifications.

23. Cleaner roads. Clamp down on roadside littering, extending the trial on camera enforcement across the strategic road network.

Transition to zero emission driving

24. Speed up grid connections. Review grid connections process for EV chargepoints, with aim to accelerate it. This measure will apply to England, Scotland and Wales.

25. Faster chargepoint installation. Consult on measures to speed up the approvals process for installation of chargepoints.

26. Greener schools. Provide dedicated, targeted support for schools to install chargepoints, using existing grants. This measure will apply UK-wide.

27. Easier on-street charging. Widen eligibility of EV chargepoint grants to include cross-pavement solutions, to make EV ownership a more practical option for those without off-street parking. This measure will apply UK-wide.

28. Safer on-street charging. Provide guidance on the use of safe cross-pavement solutions.

29. Easier chargepoint installation. Consult on the expansion of permitted development rights, making private chargepoint installation cheaper and easier.

30. Getting the word out. Work with industry to myth-bust concerns about EVs. This measure will apply UK-wide.

Smoother journeys

Drivers are justifiably irritated by traffic not flowing when it easily could. Sometimes this is unavoidable, but with the application of more thought and new technology it could be solved relatively quickly. For example, drivers understand that roads and the utilities beneath them need to be maintained to keep them safe. But when roads are continually dug up or repairs drag on, as though no one cares about getting the road reinstated, that understanding will wear thin.

Elsewhere, decisions to enable active travel and improve road safety can cause frustration if they are not well delivered, so we will restrain the most aggressively anti-driver traffic management measures.

We have already announced a review of LTNs to ensure that they are deployed fairly and with local support, and we have withdrawn COVID-19-era guidance, which referenced LTNs as one measure local authorities should consider.

We support local amenities and services being accessible. But we will look to prevent the introduction of area-wide schemes – sometimes described as 15-minute cities – that feature excessive traffic restrictions and even permits to ration car use, do not offer transport choice and have failed to secure the support of local people and businesses.

We will explore and consult on options, including legislative changes, to do this, including the removal of access to DVLA data from councils that pursue such schemes. We will consider whether new guidance is also needed about the way consideration is given to the needs of all users of road networks.

What we have done so far

We are investing £24 billion in England’s Strategic Road Network (our motorways and major ‘A’ roads) over the period 2020 to 2025 through the delivery of the second Road Investment Strategy (RIS2).

This includes a programme of major enhancement schemes but also significant investment in the renewals and maintenance of the current network to ensure it continues to be safe and reliable. We have already invested over £2 billion in the first 3 years of RIS2 in renewals of the network such as resurfacing and addressing ageing concrete issues in our road infrastructure.

We know that potholes are the bane of many drivers’ lives, and we are determined to tackle them. We are investing more than £5 billion from 2020/21 to 2024/25 to maintain local road networks, with an extra £200 million announced at the Budget in March 2023. This funding is enabling councils up and down the country to fill millions of potholes, repair dozens of bridges and resurface roads.

Our Street Manager digital service has been in use by every utility company and local authority since 2020 and is helping to coordinate over 2 million works that take place in England each year. Since April 2023, new rules have been in force to clamp down on utility companies leaving poor quality resurfacing repairs behind after carrying out street works. The new performance-based inspection regime is already helping to ensure utility companies resurface roads to the best possible standard after street works, potentially preventing thousands of potholes from developing in the future.

To help reduce congestion from works on the busiest roads at the busiest times, we have approved 2 new lane rental schemes in Surrey and in West Sussex and an amended scheme in London since 2022.

What we are doing next

Although these steps have helped create smoother journeys, there is more that we can do. Drivers are often frustrated as they feel like rules are imposed in an arbitrary or inconsistent way, so we will:

  • strengthen guidance to local authorities on the operation of bus lanes. For example, bus lanes should only operate when bus services are running, or when traffic flows are heavy enough to delay buses
  • refresh the technical advice, making it clear local authorities should use their powers to ensure bus lanes are open to motorcycles, and will launch a consultation on motorcycles using bus lanes as a default

Road recovery operators provide a crucial service to stranded drivers and support the economy by getting goods moving and preventing the build-up of congestion on our busy road network to help journeys flow more smoothly. To help keep them safe and get people moving again when vehicles break down, we will permit the use of rear-facing red flashing lamps by road recovery operators.

We will reduce the amount of drivers’ time lost and the stress caused by roadworks, by:

  • helping more local authorities establish Lane Rental schemes. We will make it easier and quicker for councils to set up Lane Rental schemes, ensuring more parts of the country can benefit
  • consulting on requiring local authorities with Lane Rental schemes to use at least 50% of any surplus funds on pothole repair
  • consulting on closing the loophole that means over-running street works at weekends does not attract fines
  • consulting on increasing fixed penalty notices to utility companies whose roadworks overrun

We will help councils to find innovative ways to look after their roads through:

  • a £30 million ‘Live Labs’ programme to pilot new and environmentally friendly ways of managing and maintaining local highway networks in different parts of the country. These include trials of a wide range of innovative highway materials to support the transition to net zero carbon local roads and infrastructure
  • developing a new data standard for assessing road condition, which will allow local authorities to use ground-breaking new technologies to identify, assess and deal with road defects, including potholes

Traffic signals are essential to ensure road junctions work smoothly and safely. Helping local authorities to retune their traffic control systems could free up traffic flow in cities. Technology can be used to manage flow intelligently, reduce queuing, reduce the time drivers spend at red lights and generally speed up journeys. Many traffic signals have not been updated since they were introduced, leading to longer waits than necessary and poor utilisation of road space. Currently, around half of England’s traffic signals are working below optimal performance.

The provision of government funding and support to local councils will create a benefit in traffic flow for drivers and other road users. We allocated £15 million specifically for traffic signal maintenance in 2021 to 2022 to help authorities replace life-expired equipment and improve operation. This resulted in the delivery of 232 schemes across 39 local authorities in England to tune up traffic signal performance. Initial unpublished data from 88 junction schemes across 27 of these authorities shows an average reduction in vehicle travel times of 8%. This not only reduces frustration but also saves fuel and cuts carbon emissions.

We will utilise modern technology and pre-empt potentially disruptive equipment failure by:

  • providing £30 million to replace unreliable and obsolete equipment in traffic signal systems before spare parts run out
  • creating a £20 million ‘Green Light Fund’ for tuning up traffic signals to better reflect current traffic conditions, building on the £15 million Traffic Signals Maintenance Grant issued in 2021 to 2022
  • dedicating an additional £20 million to deploy advanced technology for traffic signals, making use of machine learning and AI to optimise traffic flow and balance traffic across city centres

Together, this represents the biggest investment in traffic signals in decades.

Stopping unfair enforcement

The rules of the road are there for a reason. The Highway Code promotes good behaviour and sets rules which improve safety for all users of our roads. The UK’s roads are some of the safest in the world precisely because the vast majority of drivers drive safely. We will never compromise that.

Where there are rules, there must be enforcement, but we need to balance an enforcement regime that cracks down on dangerous driving practices while also, at its heart, trusting responsible drivers. We must discourage dangerous and irresponsible driving while not treating well-intentioned drivers as a way for local authorities to raise revenue.

Some drivers are concerned that local authorities use penalty charge notices (PCNs) far too liberally, not to make our roads safer and easier to navigate, but simply to raise revenue. As a result, drivers feel unfairly penalised for using their cars in their local area.

In London alone, more than 7 million PCNs were issued in the year ending March 2022, an increase of 41.3% on the year before and 21.4% on the last pre-pandemic year of 2019 to 2020. A significant proportion of these PCNs were related to LTNs and school streets. When drivers appealed, just under half (43%) were overturned despite the difficulty some drivers face in making those appeals.

It is clear many local authorities could use more discretion. Issuing fines when the high number of successful appeals indicates that many are not justified reduces trust in the way we enforce our roads.

What we have done so far

Government has an important role in setting regulations. Historically, parking, bus lane and moving traffic contraventions were enforced by the police. However, other pressures meant that these offences were being deprioritised. As a result, separate legislation applying inside and outside London has been introduced since the 1990s, providing for the designation of local authorities as civil enforcement authorities to enable them to issue PCNs for these offences as a civil matter.

What we are doing next

To ensure that future interventions on local roads carry the support of the local people, we will:

  • update guidance (in England) on 20mph speed limits. While 20mph zones are an important tool in improving road safety in residential areas, over-use risks undermining public acceptance, so we are clear that 20mph zones should be considered on a road-by-road basis to ensure local consent, not as blanket measures
  • stop local authorities using so-called “15-minute cities” to police people’s lives. We will consult on measures including the removal of local authorities’ access to DVLA data to enforce such schemes by camera
  • following the LTN review, consider new guidance on LTNs with a focus on the importance of local support, and consider as part of the LTN review how to address existing LTNs that have not secured local consent

One area of traffic enforcement that drivers feel is particularly unfair is the enforcement of yellow boxes. Although this is currently confined to London, with more councils taking powers to enforce moving traffic offences, this issue is likely to grow. Too often drivers feel that yellow boxes are confusing and face PCNs as a result. To tackle this issue, we will:

  • support the work of the British Parking Association and other stakeholders to develop sector-led guidance on a fair, proportionate and consistent enforcement approach for local authorities outside London using moving traffic enforcement powers for the first time, especially for yellow box junctions
  • strengthen statutory guidance on yellow box junctions. Our guidance would build on the sector guidance, but it would have a statutory basis and could require reviews of yellow box junctions where a disproportionate number of PCNs are issued
  • launch a call for evidence on options to restrict a local authority’s ability to generate surpluses from traffic contraventions which may create an incentive for over-zealous enforcement, in particular of yellow box junctions. This will help gather evidence of current practice and inform possible policy proposals

Easier parking

People understand that places to park are not always available in large numbers and are willing to pay a reasonable amount to park in popular places. But they want this to be treated fairly with easily understood rules, easy payment mechanisms and proportionate enforcement. People want choice in how they pay, but they do not want their mobile phones filled with dozens of different parking apps.

Payment for parking has lagged behind developments in other markets and industries. Drivers trying to park, both on-street and in car parks, face a fragmented market offering a wide variety of payment options, making the simple act of parking and paying complex and confusing as options are dependent on where they want to park and which payment app they have (or do not have).

This confusion is leading to drivers facing penalties, with a quarter of UK drivers having been given a parking fine from a private parking company.

Increasing connectedness is also beginning to bring parking into the digital age. Sensors can tell parking garages which bays are occupied and which are available. A scheme was launched in 2018 to deliver 2,000 sensors in on-street bays and council-run off-street car parks. Drivers could use an app to find a free space immediately, pay by the minute rather than in hour-long segments and sign up for services that stopped the meter automatically the moment they drove away.

What we have done so far

Parking in England is managed by the public and private sectors. For public parking, local authorities are responsible within a statutory framework set by Parliament. They manage public car parks, and patrol and enforce waiting and loading restrictions on streets. In contrast, private car parks are managed by private parking companies and, generally, this is governed by the law of contract, with any rules displayed on signs. An operator must belong to an Accredited Trade Association (ATA) to access vehicle keeper details from the DVLA and to do so must adhere to the ATA code of practice.

We are committed to improving the regulation of the private parking industry by implementing an independent code of practice for private parking companies that aims to raise the overall standards of the car parking industry. We are considering some elements of the code to ensure that it provides the best possible protection for drivers while giving parking companies the tools to crack down on drivers who park obstructively or dangerously. We will continue to work with industry and consumer groups to ensure the code comes into effect as soon as it can.

What we are doing next

Knowing where you can park and being assured you will easily be able to pay any charges when you get there are important parts of making stress-free car journeys. Our plan involves working with parking providers to remove the pain points of parking:

  • since 2021, the Department for Transport has funded a pilot called the National Parking Platform (NPP). Starting in Manchester and now spreading to 3 further areas, it provides a hub linking together parking sites with multiple parking apps. This allows drivers paying for parking to use their choice of app, rather than whatever app the local council has signed an exclusive contract with
  • this pilot has been a success and the project is now ready to move forward to the next phase. Development work will start now on a nationwide platform able to join hundreds of parking providers into a single, user-friendly system. This will end the need for drivers to carry a phone full of parking apps just to park. It will also create an open market that encourages innovation, competition and customer service; and automate processes to reduce burdens on local authorities. We will deliver this by next autumn, ending the scourge of needing multiple parking apps forever
  • the data gathered by the NPP has the potential to greatly improve our understanding of parking in real-time, telling traffic managers and drivers where spaces are available. Linking this information to wider systems means that millions of existing satnavs could tell drivers where they can find somewhere to park, even at the busiest times
  • by creating this payment platform, we also create a mechanism to join up other forms of motoring payment. The NPP could, in the future, develop to handle EV charging and other services, so drivers can use their app of choice to find and pay for parking, vehicle charging and more.

The digitisation of traffic regulation orders would require local authorities to send the legal orders they make – for example, to set speed limits, close roads and designate parking bays – to a central publication platform. The data could then be used to create a digital map of the road network, which would support providing information to drivers – such as location and availability of parking space – and help the safe operation of self-driving vehicles. We will legislate for this when Parliamentary time allows.

To ensure that parking rules are kept fair, we will consult on revising the Right to Challenge guidance for local authority parking policies so that drivers are more aware of it, for example, by making reference to it when issuing PCNs, and so know their right to challenge unfair or illogical parking policies:

  • this statutory guidance, first published in 2015, enables the public to challenge parking policies by petitions. We intend to expand the scope to bus lane and moving traffic contraventions (which includes yellow box junctions) and apply it to local authorities inside and outside London
  • to constrain local authorities from raising parking charges excessively, we will require authorities to carry out a review of their parking charges periodically. Local authorities would be required to have regard to the guidance.

Inconsiderate driving

Many drivers have had the experience of trying to overtake a middle-lane hog on the motorway or been tailgated while overtaking. We might have seen others throwing litter from their cars, spoiling our environment and potentially causing a hazard. In our neighbourhoods, we may have heard loud – often modified – vehicles shattering the peace. The World Health Organization recognises environmental noise as one of the top environmental health risks in Europe. It may cause sleep disturbance and annoyance, and there is growing evidence that long-term exposure to high levels of environmental noise is associated with illnesses like heart attack and stroke.

Transport Focus found that 82% of drivers feel safe when using motorways and ‘A’ roads in the UK. However, there is clear room for improvement and the government has noted concerns that adherence to safe driving etiquette on these roads is not all it could be.

We know drivers are concerned by the use of handheld mobile phones at the wheel and aggression on the part of other road users – and there is widespread support among drivers for tougher enforcement against those who endanger others.

An insurance company poll of drivers in 2023 found that the examples of bad driving that most upset people were:

  • braking suddenly to scare the person behind them (51%)
  • tailgating (50%)
  • not pulling over for emergency vehicles (44%)
  • overtaking then going slowly (41%)
  • people throwing rubbish out of their window (40%)
  • people using offensive hand gestures (39%)
  • middle lane hogging (38%)
  • parking in a disabled bay when they are not disabled (37%)
  • driving to the front of a merge lane and then pushing in (37%)
  • not merging in until the last minute (35%)

Younger drivers are particularly concerned about inconsiderate driving by others, with more than half feeling bullied by other drivers. The same research found 4 out of 5 young drivers with a ‘black box’ insurance policy have been tailgated and almost three-quarters had been overtaken when it was not safe to do so.

What we have done so far

Through the Safer Roads Fund, we have invested £100 million since April 2017 in improving the top 50 most high-risk roads in England. In April 2023, we added a further £47.5 million to the fund bringing the total number of roads being improved to 83.

We conducted research into the use of noise camera technology to understand if it can be used to detect vehicles that are excessively noisy. We commissioned initial trials of a prototype noise camera in 2018, which showed some promise, but further development was needed in the ability to differentiate between individual vehicles in busier traffic conditions. We then commissioned further research in January 2022 to assess the potential of the latest technology, both on a test track and at the roadside. The research also aimed to provide recommendations on a noise enforcement limit and deployment guidance.

What we are doing next

We think that everyone benefits from appropriate rules of the road being in place, applied fairly and enforced proportionately. Being on the side of responsible drivers means cracking down on bad driving and criminality that genuinely puts others in danger.

Therefore, we will take steps that will benefit both drivers and other road users, helping everyone to get where they are going safely and with less stress, together with considering interventions to punish law-breaking drivers. We will:

  • consult on removing the existing right for uninsured drivers to claim property damage from the Motor Insurers’ Bureau if they are involved in a crash with another uninsured or untraced driver. This would remove a right put in place due to EU law, that those committing a criminal offence have the benefit of and that is unfair to the majority of law-abiding drivers
  • make motorway driving less stressful by working with National Highways to identify options to encourage considerate motorway driving. National Highways will run a marketing campaign to educate road users on how to use all areas of the network, including smart motorways, lane hogging and tailgating. This is in addition to existing campaigns tackling close following (‘Don’t be a Space Invader’), tailgating and drivers loitering in HGV blind spots (‘HGV Know the Zones’)

To ensure everyone using our roads are good neighbours to those who live beside them and to the natural environment, we will:

  • tackle those who leave litter on the strategic road network by expanding a successful CCTV litter enforcement trial by National Highways
  • issue guidance to local authorities setting out minimum requirements and best practice for the use of noise cameras, sharing the findings of recent trials of this equipment

Transition to zero emission driving

The number of plug-in vehicles in the UK has risen to over 1.2 million, of which 770,000 are fully battery-electric, meaning more and more drivers are making the switch.

What we have done so far

Going forward, the number of zero emission vehicles will continue to grow, supported by government. The Zero Emission Vehicle mandate will establish annual targets for the proportion of manufacturers’ new car and van sales that must be zero emission in each year from 2024. This gives energy providers, chargepoint operators and vehicle manufacturers the certainty to make investments in the UK. To help drivers and businesses make the transition, plug-in vehicle grants continue to be available for harder to transition vehicles. Grants remain available for taxis, motorcycles, vans, trucks and wheelchair accessible vehicles.

The network of public chargepoints to support zero emission vehicles is growing rapidly too, with over 48,100 available in September 2023 – a huge 43% increase since September 2022. This is in addition to the hundreds of thousands of chargepoints in homes and workplaces, with over 400,000 supported by the government to date. In total, the government has already spent over £2 billion supporting the transition to zero emission vehicles.

Last year’s electric vehicle infrastructure strategy set out the government’s plans to make the public chargepoint network reliable and affordable. The government expects that the majority of charging infrastructure will be privately funded but will continue to provide investment in key areas.

In March 2023, the government announced over £380 million of funding for local authorities across England through the Local Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Fund. This will deliver tens of thousands of local chargepoints and transform the availability of charging for drivers without off-street parking.

In addition, our Rapid Charging Fund will accelerate industry’s own investments in transport decarbonisation. It will fund a portion of the cost of upgrading the electricity grid at strategic locations.

The government is continuing to support those in rented accommodation, flats and multi-occupancy buildings, as well as landlords, to install chargepoints through our Electric Vehicle Chargepoint and Infrastructure Grant. Small or medium sized enterprises and public sector organisations will also be supported through our Workplace Charging Scheme.

However, we recognise there is still more to do. As set out by the Prime Minister on 20 September 2023, the government is committed to reducing pressure on families and charting the fairest path to reach net zero, while meeting our climate change obligations.

In this plan, we are taking further steps to support universal access to a world-leading charging network.

What we are doing next

To accelerate and support equitable access to charging infrastructure, we will:

  • continue to work with distribution network operators to review the grid connection process to accelerate chargepoint delivery. This will build on the government’s commitment to improve the grid connections process, as set out in the Powering Up Britain Plan
  • consult on easing chargepoint operators’ ability to install chargepoint infrastructure on the public highway using permits, instead of street works licences
  • provide additional support for schools to install chargepoints, through our Workplace Charging Scheme. Government grants currently support the installation of chargepoints at workplaces. Schools have one of the largest estates of any public building entity in the UK and are traditionally centred in residential areas, providing a potential source of charging for staff, visitors and local residents at night, weekends and during school holidays
  • consult on the expansion of permitted development rights to make private chargepoint installation cheaper and easier. Planning permission is currently required to install chargepoints and associated infrastructure for properties with on-street parking, as well as certain other private charging scenarios
  • seek to provide guidance on the use of safe cross pavement solutions, and best practice to local authorities on relevant legislation, permissions and how to consider applications. Some households without off-street parking could access cheaper and more convenient charging by running cables from their property to a vehicle. However, if done inappropriately this can negatively impact other pavement users and in some cases can breach the Highways Act 1980. This measure could help more people without off-street parking safely charge from home
  • building on the above measures, regarding permitted development rights and guidance on cross-pavement solutions, the government will expand our Electric Vehicle Chargepoint Grant to trial support for safe cross pavement solutions
  • continue to champion the transition to zero emission vehicles, by addressing common misconceptions and showing how they can be a practical option for most drivers