ONE of Britain’s leading motoring groups has called for discretion on bus camera fines across the Capital after it emerged drivers were being stung simply for veering around turning traffic.
The Automobile Association (AA) said the system designed to stop cars from blocking major bus routes should not be turned into a money- spinner for councils.
Fixed penalties of £60 are being issued to motorists who enter a bus lane for only a few seconds to move past a turning vehicle.
Old Dalkeith Road in Cameron Toll is one potential trouble spot. Drivers who have indicated left and briefly moved into the neighbouring bus lane to get past a stationary car trying to enter Cameron Toll Shopping Centre have been caught out by the number plate recognition cameras. The city council confirmed any appeal in such circumstances would not be upheld.
In one ruling made last month, a statement from the authority said all drivers were banned from entering a bus lane unless they were avoiding an accident. Circumstances “outwith the control of the driver”, such as being shunted into a bus lane during a crash, would also be grounds for getting out of a fine.
AA spokesman Luke Bosdet said drivers who committed the error were effectively handing traffic enforcers a fine “on a plate”. But he said: “They would argue that if they were to allow that manoeuvre wherever there’s a bus lane, there would always be an excuse for anyone to nip in and out whenever they wanted to. But you could also argue that there’s a need for better discretion.
“The fine should depend on the circumstances. If fear of getting a fine causes the traffic to back all the way up behind the car that’s trying to turn that would seem to be an own goal. Maybe they need to look at the [Cameron Toll] junction to see if there’s some way they can free it up or be more lenient. The idea of a bus lane fine is to serve as a deterrent and not a cash- making machine.” Drivers have the option of paying a reduced rate of £30 if the penalty is settled within two weeks.
The Evening News revealed in August that 800 motorists had been hit with fines in the space of just two months after being snapped by a controversial new bus lane camera at the Royal Infirmary. One hundred fines were being issued every day to motorists who illegally drive in bus lanes in Edinburgh from April 23, 2012, to July 4 this year.
City transport convener Lesley Hinds said: “It has never been legal to drive in a bus lane during restricted hours. Doing so can hold up bus services and add to congestion.”