It’s all too easy to drive in a bus lane by mistake. If you find yourself accidentally driving in a bus lane, the best thing to do is to leave it as soon as it’s safe to do so.
Unfortunately, even if nobody saw you driving in the bus lane, you might still have to pay a fine. This is because many councils now use CCTV to monitor their bus lanes.
In this post we’ll explain how bus lane cameras work, which will help you understand what happens next if you’re caught driving in a bus lane.
How Do Bus Lane Cameras Work?
Local councils are increasingly using CCTV to monitor bus lanes. Some bus lane cameras are fixed. Others are mobile, and only used during the bus lane’s operating hours. If the camera detects a vehicle illegally driving, stopping or parking in a bus lane, it will automatically record some footage – usually at least eight seconds’ worth.
Local traffic enforcement officers will periodically review this footage. If they decide you’ve broken the law, they’ll look up your vehicle registration and send you a penalty charge notice (PCN). You should get this PCN within a few weeks of the incident.
Driving in a Bus Lane Fine
Inside Greater London, the fine for driving in a bus lane is £160, or £80 if you pay within 14 days. Outside of Greater London, the fine is £65, or £30 if you pay within 14 days. But you won’t get any points on your licence if you drive in a bus lane by mistake.
That means that you don’t have to worry about your mistake affecting your car insurance premium.
How to Appeal Your Bus Lane Fine (PCN)?
You can appeal your PCN if you have reasonable grounds. There are times when it’s perfectly fine to drive in a bus lane. For example, some bus lanes have set operating hours, and outside of these hours, it’s legal to drive in the bus lane so long as it’s safe to do so.
Look out for a blue sign by the side of the road. This sign won’t just tell you the bus lane’s operating hours. It will also tell you whether any other vehicles besides buses are allowed to use the lane. Some bus lanes are also open to taxis, motorcycles, and cyclists.
If you see no blue sign, it’s best to assume that the bus lane is in use 24/7, so don’t be tempted to use it. But if you get a PCN for driving in a bus lane outside of the lane’s operating hours, then you can absolutely appeal.
It’s also fine to drive in a bus lane to make way for an emergency vehicle – so long, of course, that it’s safe to do so, and so long as you leave the bus lane as soon as the emergency vehicle’s passed. You can also temporarily pass into a bus lane if there’s an obstruction in your lane. Again, if you get a PCN for using a bus lane for these reason, you can appeal.
Making Your Case
Thanks to bus lane cameras, if you drive in a bus lane, either accidentally or on purpose, there’ll be clear video evidence of the incident. So if you had a good reason for using the bus lane, the video will back you up, and your appeal should be successful.
The PCN itself should give you all the information you need to appeal. And if your appeal is unsuccessful, you can also appeal to an independent tribunal. But for this, you might ultimately have to go to court, which could be more trouble than it’s worth. In many cases, it’s probably best to just pay the fine!