- Transport Minister announces tougher measures to tackle careless driving
- Fixed penalty notices will help reduce workloads on the courts
- Will come into effect in July, but do you think it will make a difference?
Motorists who hog the middle lane on motorways, tailgate the car in front or fail to give way at a junction could find themselves £100 worse off and with three points on their licence as police are given more power to prosecute careless driving.
Transport Minister Stephen Hammond today announced new measures that will become effective in July with the aim of bringing minor careless driving offences into line with the punishments for similar non-motoring fixed penalties.
Motorists caught tailgating the car in front or wrongly occupying the middle lane on a motorway will be hit with a £100 fine and three penalty points. The fixed penalty for using your phone while driving is also rising from £40 to £100.
Police are also expected to be able to issue instant fixed penalty notices for not giving way at a junction or using the wrong lane on a roundabout.
Until now these offences have generally gone unpunished because of the bureaucracy involved in prosecuting a case. A motorist had to be stopped, a summons issued and evidence presented in court to make any prosecution stick, now however, the police can act immediately.
Similar to speeding offences, educational training may also be offered as an alternative to the points.
If prosecuted, penalty notices could still be appealed through the courts. More serious offences will also go straight to court.
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.”
According to the Institute of Advanced Motorists Director of Policy and Research Neil Greig, however, without enough traffic police cars on the road, this new penalty is unlikely to have an impact.
"This is a major change in traffic law enforcement and it 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."
The Freight Transport Association (FTA) supports the new approach, but is calling for penalty levels to be reviewed more often to increase them in line with inflation.
Malcolm Bingham, FTA – Head of Policy for Roads argued: “The review of fixed penalty levels was long overdue and we believe that the new levels will better reflect the severity of the offences covered. While calculating inflation over a 12 to 15 year period is a mathematical issue it becomes difficult to convince the public the large increases are in line with inflation. We therefore would support a better system of review of penalties say on a 2 yearly basis.”
Do you think the new measures will serve to curb bad driving? Vote in our poll below, or head over to the Parkers Facebook page to join in the discussion.