Careless drivers and middle-lane hoggers to face on-the-spot fines
The changes, announced today (5th June) by Road Safety Minister Stephen Hammond, will also see existing fixed penalty levels for most motoring offences – including using a mobile phone at the wheel and not wearing a seatbelt – rise to £100 to bring them into line with the penalties for similar non-motoring fixed penalties. In addition the current fixed penalty for driving without insurance will rise from £200 to £300.
The Government said the move will help free up police time spent on court cases and added that having the fixed penalty will enable the police to offer educational training as an alternative to endorsement. Drivers will still be able to appeal any decision in court. In addition, most serious offences will continue to be sent to court, where offenders may face higher penalties.
Stephen Hammond said: ‘Careless drivers are a menace and their negligence puts innocent people's lives at risk. That is why we are making it easier for the police to tackle problem drivers by allowing them to immediately issue a fixed penalty notice rather than needing to take every offender to court.
‘We are also increasing penalties for a range of driving offences to a level which reflects their seriousness and which will ensure that they are consistent with other similar penalty offences.’
The move has been greeted by various road organisations.
Edmund King, AA president, added: ’It is worrying that three quarters of drivers see others using mobile phones behind the wheel on some or most journeys. This epidemic of hand held mobile phone use while driving has already cost lives and our members have demanded action. An increase in the standard motoring fixed penalty fine will help deter those who commit motoring offences including mobile phone use. AA members broadly support an increase in the level of the fixed penalty. Our members also fully support educational training as an alternative to penalty points.
‘We are also pleased to see that at long last new powers and fines will be given to the police to tackle the top three pet hates of drivers – tailgaters, mobile phone abusers and middle lane hogs.’
However, Neil Greig, director of policy and research at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, commented: ‘This is a major change in traffic law enforcement and the IAM is concerned that issuing fixed penalty tickets for careless driving downplays the seriousness of the offence. Careless covers a wide range of poor to reckless driving behaviour that often merits further investigation.
‘This could free up traffic police time and allow them to maintain a higher profile. But without traffic cops out on the road to enforce this new approach it will have little impact on road safety.’