- New fixed penalty notices for careless driving come into effect
- Middle-lane hogging and tailgaiting could result in a fine and three points
- Training may be offered as an alternative to punishment
Fixed penalty notices for careless driving offences come into effect today as police are given powers to hand-out on-the-spot fines.
From today (16 August 2013) drivers who commit offences such as hogging the middle lane on motorways or tailgating the car in front will face a fixed penalty of £100 and three points added to their licence.
The changes aim to give the police greater flexibility in dealing with less serious careless driving offences, freeing them from lengthy and time-consuming court proceedings.
The changes – which were announced earlier this year – are being introduced following public research and meetings with road safety groups and police forces.
The offences police are expected to focus on are;
- Needlessly hogging the middle or outside lanes
- Failing to give way at a junction
- Pushing into a queue of traffic or into a queue on a roundabout
- Careless manoeuvres like wheel-spins and handbrake turns
More serious driving offences will still go through the courts and could result in much higher fines and penalties.
Existing fixed penalty levels, including using a mobile phone at the wheel and not wearing a seatbelt, will rise for the first time since 2000. Motorists will now be fined £100, increasing from £60, bringing them in-line with penalties for similar non-motoring fixed penalties.
Road safety minister Stephen Hammond said: “Careless driving puts innocent people’s lives at risk – that is why we have made it easier for the police to tackle problem drivers by allowing them to immediately issue a fixed penalty notice for low level offending rather than taking these offenders to court.”
The Road Haulage Association has welcomed the news and believes that the changes to police enforcement should mean a decrease in road accidents.
”This is good news for all road users”, said RHA chief executive Geoff Dunning. ”The UK road network is among the most congested in Europe. As traffic levels continue to rise, it is inevitable that there will be a corresponding increase in traffic incidents. Careless driving is a major cause of crashes and we hope that the new police powers will go a long way to reducing this situation.”
The Institute of Advanced Motorists also supports the new laws and sees them as a big step forward for road safety.
IAM chief executive Simon Best said: “If the police target the worst and most persistent offenders this could be good news for road safety. If, however, it just becomes another numbers game with thousands of careless driving tickets issued then the impact will be limited. The IAM believes that driver retraining courses have a much bigger potential to actually improve poor driving than simply issuing a standard fine and should always be offered as the first stage of prosecution.”
The police will also be able to offer educational training as an alternative to penalty points and drivers will still be able to appeal any decision in court.