Drivers who put other road users at risk face on-the-spot penalties under new measures announced today (5 June) by Stephen Hammond, road safety minister .
The changes will give the police powers to issue fixed penalty notices for careless driving, giving them greater flexibility in dealing with less serious careless driving offences – such as tailgating or middle lane hogging – and freeing them from resource-intensive court processes. The fixed penalty will also 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, existing fixed penalty levels for most motoring offences – including using a mobile phone at the wheel and not wearing a seatbelt – will rise to £100 to bring them into line with the penalties for similar non-motoring fixed 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."
Chief Constable Suzette Davenport ACPO lead on roads policing said: “The new penalties are absolutely necessary to deal with drivers who are putting people’s lives at risk and police will not hesitate to enforce them. These measures should also act as a reminder to careless drivers that their behaviour will not be tolerated.
“The vast majority of drivers are law abiding, but some are still not getting the message. We said we would get tougher on those who make our roads dangerous and that is exactly what we have done.”
Edmund King, AA President said: “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.”
The fixed penalty for careless driving will be £100 with three points on the driver’s licence. The most serious examples will continue to go through court, where offenders may face higher penalties. There are no changes to penalty levels for parking offences.
Fixed penalty levels for most of these motoring offences have not increased since 2000. In addition, raising the penalty levels for these offences is designed to offer an additional incentive for drivers to take up remedial courses which address poor driving behaviour in the longer term.
The changes – which the Government aims to bring into force next month – are being introduced following extensive consultation with road safety groups and police forces.