Residents’ traffic congestion concerns given a boost by new technology

In response to residents’ concerns about traffic congestion, Merton Council has been trialling the use of technology to crack down on bad driving. The trial is part of a wider programme to update the council’s cameras across the borough.

Traffic congestion has consistently been one of the biggest concerns identified in the borough’s Annual Residents’ Survey, so during the summer months, the council trialled Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras at 24 locations, including bus lanes, where there are high numbers of traffic offences.  Deterring motorists from entering bus lanes will also reduce bus journey times, as well as reduce congestion.

The purpose of the trial was to compare the efficiency of cameras with manual enforcement of traffic offences and to help the council finalise how the technology will be rolled out next year.  ANPR records offences automatically on a database and are processed much more efficiently than at present.

ANPR also frees up the time of civil enforcement officers who currently spend time looking at CCTV footage, to allow them to focus more effectively on handling residents’ complaints about badly parked vehicles and take action in areas where there is a consistently high number of traffic contraventions, providing a better service to residents.

Merton Council cabinet member for environmental cleanliness and parking Councillor Judy Saunders said: “Every year residents tell us that traffic congestion is one of their top concerns. Traffic often slows down because people don’t drive responsibly and don’t follow the highway code. If bus lanes and box junctions are clogged up, journeys take longer and the roads are more hazardous. Better use of technology will help with both keeping the borough safe and improving traffic flow.

“Nobody likes getting a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN), but we have a responsibility to keep the roads safe and a legal duty to minimise congestion. We will always be fair and if we wrongly issue a PCN of course, we will cancel it, but using this technology means we are much less likely to issue fines incorrectly.”