Intelligent Transport Systems UK (ITS UK) is calling for the UK Government’s Home Office to review the process by which it approves enforcement technology for use on the road network, known as Home Office Type Approval (HOTA).
Home Office Type Approval (HOTA) is a testing and certification process overseen by the Home Office that enforcement technology must pass before evidence from enforcement devices can be admissible in UK courts.
ITS UK Members, which include many manufacturers of enforcement technology, have raised concerns that decisions for approvals often take an excessively long time to get made, with procedures being opaque and decisions difficult to understand. Some manufacturers have reported delays to approvals of between three and five years.
The delay to enforcement technology approvals is having a significant impact on both the road network and wider sector:
- Reduced safety: New devices and technology that could be improving the safety of the road network are not being taken up, thereby reducing transport authorities’ ability to keep road users safe.
- Loss of jobs and investment in the industry: Manufacturers have reported that the long and unpredictable timescales make it uneconomical for suppliers to invest in the UK. Some have reported reducing capabilities or that they are even look at pulling out of the UK market as it is too difficult and unpredictable to achieve approval.
- Reduces the ability to innovate: Delays deter new products from coming to market and bar truly innovative solutions from being proposed as these products often don’t conform with the handbook that defines how an approved system can operate.
- Obsolescence of current technology: Existing HOTA devices are becoming obsolete with no clear path to upgrading them. If a sub-module within a device reaches the ‘end of life’, it is currently not possible to put a compatible alternative in as it would need to be reapproved.
On behalf of its members, ITS UK is calling on the government to review the process by committing to regular dialogue with suppliers, setting timelines for approval, fast-tracking the process for modifications and updating the SpeedMeter Handbook that provides guidance on getting approval.
“Enforcement technology on our transport network is essential to keeping road users safe, as well as supporting an important sector for UK plc,” says Max Sugarman, chief executive of ITS UK. “Yet, it is clear that manufacturers of this equipment are not getting their products approved in a timely and transparent way, making it highly difficult to get new and innovative technology onto the road system, and impacting investment and jobs across the intelligent transport industry.
“So, today, ITS UK is calling on government to review the HOTA process and to commit to setting out clear timelines and greater engagement with the supply chain, in order to resolve these issues. Getting the process right would have little to no cost to Government, but would be hugely beneficial to road users, transport authorities, police forces and the wider sector.
“We look forward to engaging with Government to deliver a better, more effective approval system, for the benefit of all.”