Drivers who put other road users at risk face on-the-spot penalties under new measures introduced on 16 August.
The changes in the law 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.
The stiffer penalties for anti-social driving were welcomed by Edmund King, president of the AA.
Speaking to the Telegraph, Mr King said: “We are 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.
“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.”
Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Anti-social behaviour is just as big a problem on our roads as it is in society generally.
“Powers that give the police more freedom to act against anti-social driving behaviour on the spot, rather than have to waste time and effort on expensive court procedures, are a good idea, because they will both make our roads safer and also free up valuable resources.
Stephen Hammond, road safety minister, said: “Careless driving 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 for low level offending rather than taking these offenders to court.”
Simon Best, IAM chief executive, 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."