Mixed reaction to new on-the-spot fines
Under the Government changes, the police will gain new powers to issue on-the-spot fixed penalty fines for less serious careless driving offences. In addition, existing fixed penalty fines for most driving offences, including mobile phone use and not wearing a seat belt, will rise from £60 to £100.
In addition the current fixed penalty for driving without insurance will rise from £200 to £300.
The British Insurance Brokers' Association (BIBA) has welcomed the announcement of the latter measure.
Graeme Trudgill, executive director of BIBA, said: 'BIBA has long called for tougher penalties for uninsured drivers and we welcome the Government's commitment to increase the fine for this offence.
'We recently discussed increasing the sanctions for those caught driving without insurance with Stephen Hammond and we're pleased that he has announced a tougher stance which should act as a deterrent.
'Uninsured driving is a scourge on our roads, costing honest motorists around £30 per policy. Uninsured drivers are also five times more likely to be involved in road collisions, fail to comply with traffic laws, or be engaged in other criminal activity.'
The new careless driving measures have also been welcomed by Brake but the road safety charity has called for higher fines to deter risky law-breaking.
In its response to last year's consultation, Brake said: ‘While Brake is supportive of the idea of introducing an FPN for careless driving on the basis it should enable increased prosecutions of drivers committing this offence, we are concerned about such a low-level FPNs being introduced for this charge (of just £90 plus three points). We are concerned this will is inadequate for deterring law—breaking, risky behaviours that frequently lead to road crashes and casualties.
‘It is worth noting that Brake takes issue with the existence and definition of careless driving charges, especially in relation to cases where a death or serious injury has occurred or could easily have occurred. “Careless” is an inappropriate and offensive term to use for bad driving; driving that is bad is by definition dangerous. Brake believes careless driving charges should be scrapped, with cases prosecuted under these charges instead prosecuted under dangerous driving instead, with a full range of penalties handed out up to the maximum, according to the seriousness of the offence.’
Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive at Brake, added: ‘It's crucial we encourage greater respect for laws on our roads, which are in place to protect people's lives, and higher fines can help achieve this. £100 is not enough to pose a strong deterrent to potentially life-threatening behaviour, like using a mobile at the wheel.
‘We are also calling on government to stem worrying cut-backs in traffic policing levels. We believe traffic policing should be made a national policing priority, to ensure we have sufficient numbers of officers enforcing vital safety laws on our roads.’