Spy car idea poses no risk to those who obey rules

COMMENT: All agencies must to held to account for Anne Savidge’s tragic death

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At first it might sound like a crazy idea.

Bus lanes are meant to be no-car zones and yet Portsmouth City Council wants to employ a so-called spy patrol vehicle to go driving up and down these lanes.

The sight of a Smart car fitted with a surveillance camera on top will certainly grab the attention of motorists, bus users and pedestrians.

But the council has rightly identified that the inconsiderate behaviour of some motorists is causing a problem in Portsmouth.

The bus lanes are meant to ease congestion and encourage people to use public transport and yet there are some selfish car drivers who think the rules of the road simply don’t apply to them.

Rather than sit and wait in traffic like everyone else, they drive into the lanes and use them as their own personal stretches of highway.

This clearly obstructs the path of the buses and could pose a danger to cyclists who are entitled to use the lanes themselves.

There are some people who will never be prepared to consider public transport as a viable option. They don’t want to leave their cars despite the fact that Portsmouth’s roads are over-crowded.

Others might be wavering towards using the bus. But they won’t be minded to jump on board if they see cars clogging up the lanes.

While the cost implications of buying and kitting-out a Smart car in this way haven’t yet been worked out, there are sound motives for exploring this idea further.

At present, those who break the law can be fined up to £120 by the police. But that relies on an officer catching them in the act.

This scheme would see lower fines introduced and, crucially, the no-car rule would be actively policed.

Of course there will be cries of ‘Big Brother’ but it is worth remembering that these rules are in place for a very good reason.

And if you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to fear from a patrol car using the bus lanes around Portsmouth to make sure that others are sticking to the rules.