The Council’s Responsibility for Vehicles Abandoned on a Public Road

Definition of Abandoned Vehicle

A vehicle is considered abandoned if it has been left on a particular location for a long period of time and if the owner no longer wishes to keep it. Whilst abandoned vehicles do not have tax disc, this is not an ultimate indicator, since not all abandoned vehicles are untaxed. There are cars, which whilst taxed, are abandoned on public roads.

Difference from Nuisance Vehicles

As distinguished from abandoned ones, nuisance vehicles are not abandoned by nature. The presence of these vehicles on any road creates a disturbance be it public or private. The predicament of nuisance vehicles is annoying, hence the term ‘nuisance.’ This can take the form of a car parked in someone else’s place which causes inconvenience to the real owner.

Reason behind Abandoned Vehicles

No one really knows why owners would abandon their vehicles on public roads. But the most common reason is because vehicles depreciate fast. If a car has been running for quite a number of years with high mileage, chances are, the owner cannot profit should he decide to sell it especially at a junkyard. So, instead of going through all the trouble of bringing it there, the owner just leaves it on a public road.

Responsibility of Local Councils

Local councils are charged with the removal of abandoned vehicles whether these are located on a private property or a public road.  But policies on this matter vary from one council to another which is why you need to consult with these local authorities on how they proceed on such things.

Governing Laws

Local authorities are empowered by law to carry out the removal of abandoned vehicles on public roads. These legislations are known as the Refuse and Disposal Amenity Act (Amenity Act) 1978, Section 99 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, and the Removal and Disposal of Vehicle (England) Regulations 2002 as amended.

Removal and Disposal of Vehicle (England) Regulations 2002 (as amended)

Pursuant to Removal and Disposal of Vehicle (England) Regulations 2002 as amended, local authorities can issue a 24-hour notice on a vehicle which they believe no longer has value and has been left on public road. The owner’s failure to remove it within the given time frame will entitle the local authorities to have the vehicle removed and immediately destroyed.

Whilst this law does not require the local authorities to contact the owner, they may however do so to reclaim expenses made for the removal or destruction of the abandoned vehicle.

There is, however, a qualification here. Should local authorities believe that the abandoned vehicle still has some value, a seven-day notice is given instead and attempts to contact the owner must be made. Only after the expiration of this period can local authorities remove and have the vehicle destroyed.

But there is another caveat for abandoned vehicles believed to be worth a small profit. If such vehicle has a valid excise licence, it must be held for fourteen days after the expiry of the excise.

Can police officers remove abandoned vehicles?

Generally, they cannot. They are not authorised by legislation to deal with such vehicles. By virtue of Sections 99 to 101 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 and Disposal of Vehicle Regulations 1986, police can authorise immediate removal of vehicles under three instances: (1) it is in a potentially dangerous position; (2) the vehicle is causing obstruction; and (3) it is contravening a parking restriction.

Are owners liable for abandoning vehicles?

Owners are held liable for such act. The local council is not only authorised to remove and destroy vehicles; they are also empowered to prosecute vehicle owners found responsible for abandonment. Such directive comes from legislation known as Refuse Disposal (Amenity) Act 1978.

The Problem with Abandoned Vehicles

Abandoned vehicles are more than just eye sores on public roads. The presence of these cars in such areas is detrimental to your health as well. Because of battery acid and fluro-elastomers in vehicles, abandoned vehicles pose a threat to your physical health. Another danger brought on by these cars is its inflammable properties thus its potential to release harmful substances to the locality.