Fines hike for bad drivers

Careless drivers who put other road users at risk face on-thespot penalties under new measures announced in June by road safety minister Stephen Hammond. The changes are set to be enforced from July 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 middlelane 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.

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 nonmotoring 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 they are consistent with other similar penalty offences.”

However, the Freight Transport Association has called on government to issue clear guidance to police in identifying careless driving. While the FTA said it supports the increase in fixed penalty values in line with accumulated inflation, it also expressed concern the changes had been left for so long with sudden increases so as to catch up with inflation.

Malcolm Bingham, FTA’s head of policy for roads, said: “While calculating inflation over a 12-15 year period is a mathematical issue, it is difficult to convince the public the large increases are in line with inflation. We would support a better system of review of penalties, say, on a two-yearly basis.”

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 to court, where offenders may face higher penalties. There are no changes to charges for parking offences.