Brexit Protest and Direct Action Group (BDA), outraged by Prime Minister Theresa May’s negotiations, organised a series of ‘go slow’ protests on Friday ending in police prosecuting four pro-Brexit drivers.
The decision to push back the deadline for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union infuriated Brexiteer campaigners who, on Friday, attempted to cause chaos on rush-hour roads and ‘bring the country to its knees’.
Slow and furious
The protest occurred after news hit that Brexit wouldn’t happen until at least the 12th of April. Group organisers hoped that, by causing gridlock on motorways and A roads, the demonstrations would make sure the UK leaves the EU at the end of the month.
The police say they spoke to organisers of both protests beforehand and told them they must stay in the slow lane and not drive less than 45 mph. Inspector Simon Jenkinson said the force was ‘happy to facilitate’ the protests as long as they didn’t bring the roads to a standstill. Yet protesters drove as slow as 20 mph, occupied all lanes, and caused delays throughout the south-west, Hull, Lancashire, and parts of North Wales.
Video of the demonstration showed a slowdown on the M6 in Lancashire, with annoyed motorists trying to swerve past the slow drivers while honking their horns, yet a tweet by Highways England stated there had been a few issues but ‘nothing of any major impact’ and that everything was ‘running as usual’.
Devon and Cornwall’s forces said their officers stopped nine vehicles who ‘presented a risk to the road-using community’ and prosecuted the lead drivers of the convoys for careless and inconsiderate driving.
Members of the group are planning further such demonstrations throughout the country and claim they have hauliers prepared across the land.
Group organiser, Ian Charlesworth said they are planning a bigger event in London on the 29th of March — the same day as the planned ‘March To Leave’ demonstration in Parliament Square.
‘Come hell or high water’
Inspector Simon Jenkinson, from the Alliance Roads Policing Team, said the campaigners blocked both lanes of the A30 towards Cornwall and at least two lanes of the M5 northbound.
“We recognise the right to protest and make views clear but we will not tolerate careless and inconsiderate driving on our roads.”
“We engaged with organisers before the go-slow began, they ignored our advice to stay in lane one and limit speed to no less than 45 mph.”
Meanwhile, the protesters’ Twitter account stated:
“BDA group believe that our government should fulfil their manifesto and EU referendum pledge to exit the EU on 29th March with either an acceptable Withdrawal Agreement or WTO [The World Trade Organisation] managed exit.”
Organiser Ian Charlesworth, who said the protests could cause ‘serious gridlock’, assumed MPs and the Home Office would be ‘looking at it’ but added he didn’t know how effective the protests would be.
Mr Charlesworth said:
“The ultimate aim is to make sure, come hell or high water, that Britain leaves on March 29.”
The need for speed
Minimum speed limits keep traffic moving at a steady pace and may be mandatory where emergency services might have difficulty accessing, yet the UK seldom enforces minimum speed limits and many drivers have never seen a minimum speed limit sign—it’s a round blue sign with white numerals—but you can’t travel at any speed you like without breaking the law.
If police consider your slow driving to be a hazard to other road users, you may just get a verbal warning but, in more serious cases, you may find yourself charged with driving without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other road users. This might mean up to nine penalty points on your licence and a fine of up to £5,000. To prove you’re guilty of this offence, prosecutors must show that your driving inconvenienced another driver.
If you drive at slow speeds on motorways—and high-speed dual carriageways—you rely on drivers to realise that your car is travelling at a much lower speed than expected, which may cause abrupt braking or overtaking to avoid you and is even more dangerous for large vehicles that need more time to slow down or change lane.
Slow driving is also dangerous on single carriageways where overtaking is difficult and it’s common for motorists to become stressed and impatient whilst following a very slow vehicle and leads to the possibility of erratic driving and dangerous overtaking manoeuvres.
One proposed method to tackle slow drivers is to introduce speed cameras focussed on slow speeds but drivers spotting these could speed up when they shouldn’t—on icy or wet roads, for example. So, while ‘slow-speed cameras’ would no doubt increase revenue, the chance is they’d increase the number of accidents on our roads, too.
What are your views on the Pro-Brexit protests? Was it a justified or selfish move? Are you affected by slow drivers? Tell us in the comments.