Government considers increased driving offence fines and introducing fixed penalties for careless driving

Increase proposed in fines for speeding and phoning at the wheel

by Sarah Barth   June 15, 2012  

Speed Camera © Simon MacMichael.jpg

The Government is consulting on new road safety levies, with harsher financial punishments for careless drivers who infringe road laws.

Under the new proposals, fixed penalty notices could be given on the spot, allowing police to crack down on minor incidents as soon as they see them - and keeping them free from paperwork. Educational training could also be given in lieu of licence endorsements.

The proposals also include increased fines for many offences, such as speeding and using a phone while driving - both known to be factors in deaths and injuries of cyclists in recent years - as well as not wearing a seatbelt.  The proposals would see penalties for these offences increase from £60 to £90.

Road Safety Minister Mike Penning said: "Careless driving is a major public concern and a cause of deaths and injuries on our roads.

"These changes support both police enforcement and, for some cases, the associated offer of educational training for motorists unaware of the full, potential consequences of driving carelessly.

"We also need to make sure that the penalties for a wide range of fixed penalty motoring offences are set at reasonable levels, consistent with the potentially severe consequences of some infringements."

The proposed fixed penalty for careless driving will be £90 with three points on the driver's licence. The most serious example will continue to go through court, where offenders may face higher penalties.

Graduated fixed penalties for breaching rules such as driver hour regulations are also being considered. The Times reporter Mary Bowers, who is still unresponsive in hospital after a crash with an HGV in November, was hit by a driver who had worked two jobs at once for two different haulage companies, clocking up well over the legal maximum of hours.

Fixed penalty levels for most of these motoring offences have not increased since the year 2000.

The proposals have sparked the old speed camera debate, with the Taxpayer's Alliance saying that research they did last year found the rate of decline in road accidents slowed when speed cameras were introduced, and that panic braking and erratic driving to avoid being caught was dangerous for all road users.

Claire Armstrong, co founder of campaign group Safe Speed told the Daily Telegraph: "Road safety is not measured in miles an hour".

The increased fines will net the Government around £33.5 million extra a year - despite the coalition partners having accused the Labour government of using fines as a 'cash cow'.

How much of that revenue will go towards cycle safety schemes, which would arguably save more lives, remains to be seen.

18 user comments

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MM! how much for dead cyclists ?

antonio

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posted by antonio [947 posts]
15th June 2012 - 10:24

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Driver awareness courses? My girlfriend went on one last month after getting a S30 and afterwards told me that it was OK to overtake bikes, horses, tractors, etc where there's a solid white line on your side of the centre of the road. The course tutor missed out the bit about the vehicle you're overtaking needing to be going less than 10mph AND it being safe to do so.

And one person fell asleep during the course as well.

Shambles.

posted by jarderich [84 posts]
15th June 2012 - 12:33

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Disappointed to see friends of the mail and lazy journos everywhere, the taxpayers alliance, quoted in this article as if they are some kind of representative organisation and not just the right wing libertarian lobby group that they actually are.

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posted by joemmo [792 posts]
15th June 2012 - 12:47

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Enforcement?

posted by Coleman [329 posts]
15th June 2012 - 13:35

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You can overtake anything when there is a solid white line! jarderich; provided that it is safe! Solid white lines do not mean 'no overtaking' there is a separate sign for that! A solid white line means you must not 'cross' the white line unless overtaking a cycle, horse, road maintenance vehicle travelling at less than 10mph, turning right or passing a stationary vehicle (Rule 129). So the instructor was correct! But seriously this is great news; this country should have done it years ago...They do it on the continent as I know to my cost! Saw a couple of idiots (two cars) overtaking around a blind bend and across a solid white line last friday...the day after 3 people died on the same road. Fortunately no one hurt but the person who nearly died coming the other way on this occasion was a traffic officer in a marked police car who did a U turn caught them and nicked them! F*****g result! Hopefully more and bigger fines and points (with the extra insurance premiums that go with) will equal less knobheads on the road; Hooray

posted by SideBurn [787 posts]
15th June 2012 - 14:33

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It was reported in my local paper this week that a man had been caught "drink driving" for the fourth time in 8 years. While banned from driving from his last apprehension.

He has been banned from driving for 24 months and told me must retake his test at the end.

The justification, he was caught on a Tesco Car Park so not the highway, and pleaded guilty.

The JP obviously didn't consider that he must have driven, while banned, to the car park in question, so with no insurance obviously. And that his current ban had not prevented him from driving so what point is a further ban.

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posted by bikeandy61 [389 posts]
15th June 2012 - 14:58

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Using a phone while driving is as bad as drunk driving. A £90 fine is a joke. It should mean an automatic driving ban for at least three years.

Paul W

posted by PaulVWatts [111 posts]
15th June 2012 - 15:20

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It's a start but £90? I would have made it £100 a point. Nice and simple to remember. 3 points and £300. Also for a second offence it would be double: 6 points and £600. If you're carrying points already and lose your licence then that's your problem. All these reduced fines and 'I need my licence for my job" BS drives me crazy.

In defence of Claire Armstrong her quote about road safety not being about safety however ridiculous isn't what's quoted as her words in the article. Her assertions about 'milking the motorists' is just nonsense as ever. If you don't break the law you will not be fined. It's about improving all our lives - not making cash and to spin it the other way is disengenuous spin.

Silly me. You're probably right....

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posted by MercuryOne [1055 posts]
15th June 2012 - 15:23

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Its about time - speaking as a driver and cyclist, that this was done. Gives Police a quicker remedy that the cumbersome court system and should mean that drivers from other members states can be punished for driving offences - a frequent complaint in this part of the world. Perhaps the rules about the advanced box for cyclists could be enforced and the ones about overtaking in the highway code?

Using the TPA in the article is a shame (for reasons noted above) but at least no quotes from the the "association of british drivers" ABD (or is that BAD?). Both are equally guilty of abuse of statistics and the law of logic - recall an interview on BBC Kent a few years ago, where a spokesman for the latter said that his members found it difficult controlling cars at lower speeds.

robbiec

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posted by robbieC [62 posts]
15th June 2012 - 15:23

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My comment was obviously lost in translation - I was trying to say what you did SideBurn but clearly not so succinctly. The fact remains that my other half left her course under the impression that it was ok to cross a SWL in order to overtake / pass without being told about the provisos both you and I mention.

This particular rule is a bugbear of mine - part of my commute is along an A road that runs through a small village, is twisty and with poor visibility. Two days a week I also have my daughter with me in her seat on the bike. Cars, vans and lorries alike will pass us on stretches of road with SWL's on our side or even both sides without considering any of the criteria for doing so (none of which, usually, have been met). I try riding in the primary position but this generally tends to make matters worse instead of deterring vehicles trying to pass as it's supposed to.

posted by jarderich [84 posts]
15th June 2012 - 15:50

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Sorry to sound like a know it all; but it makes me laugh that the law is so precise about these things yet most road users are completely ignorant of the rules. And then theres the grey areas like where you get two lanes on a hill. One is a 'crawler' lane for slow vehicles. A driving instructor once said that this is a dual carriageway so 70mph right/wrong? Or a solid white line at the side of the road (clearway; no stopping?) you cannot cross it (according to a police officer)right/wrong? You have started me off now! Wheres that medication!

posted by SideBurn [787 posts]
15th June 2012 - 16:33

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SideBurn wrote:
You can overtake anything when there is a solid white line! jarderich; provided that it is safe! Solid white lines do not mean 'no overtaking' there is a separate sign for that! A solid white line means you must not 'cross' the white line unless overtaking a cycle, horse, road maintenance vehicle travelling at less than 10mph, turning right or passing a stationary vehicle (Rule 129)

Actually I think rule 129 says something different:

129

Double white lines where the line nearest you is solid. This means you MUST NOT cross or straddle it unless it is safe and you need to enter adjoining premises or a side road. You may cross the line if necessary, provided the road is clear, to pass a stationary vehicle, or overtake a pedal cycle, horse or road maintenance vehicle, if they are travelling at 10 mph (16 km/h) or less.

Which I think says you can overtake slow things or turn off to the right. I don't think it means "you can overtake anything".

posted by horizontal dropout [148 posts]
15th June 2012 - 19:02

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Anything that reduces road danger is welcome and these measures may well help, but doesn't the new option of "educational training" amount to recognition by the government that driver training is inadequate?

By the way that dodgy word "accidents" is creeping in again.

posted by horizontal dropout [148 posts]
15th June 2012 - 19:10

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This is purely academic. Police officer cuts in frontline numbers as well as the well known decimation of the traffic police mean that there will be no-one to give these tickets out. The ones that are given can be challenged and heard in court. A sizable portion of all minor traffic matters contested in court are simply dropped as deemed by the CPS (nothing to do with the police and looking to meet their own targets)to be not in the public interest to pursue. So a non story really.

posted by soulwood2 [3 posts]
15th June 2012 - 19:18

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'MUST NOT cross or straddle it'. horizontal dropout. That is what a white line means. You can overtake anything as long as it is safe and you do not cross the white line. Otherwise, there are exceptions where you can cross a white line if it is safe necessary etc

posted by SideBurn [787 posts]
15th June 2012 - 21:23

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Fines are fine - all the silly courses don't seem to work. Retests are a better deterrent. Or, if you want to water it down, mentoring drivers. I've no idea how it'd work, but I'd be happy to sit at the wheel and explain to somebody who'd been done for recklessness about the possible implications of their actions... Particularly in the vicinity of cyclists. Yes, that might be the job of driving instructors, but at the end of the day a driving instructor is just a cog in the machine of enabling somebody to get in a car weighing two tonnes, capable of over 100mph without any additional support.... I'd happily give up an hour on a Saturday to make sure we're all responsible drivers.

posted by carl j [23 posts]
15th June 2012 - 23:47

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Bringing back public information films would help. Driving standards have dropped since I passed my test in 1982 - especially on motorways - where, for example, hardly anyone indicates between lanes at all. Wooryingly I see a lot of bad drivng driving instructors and constant reminders on some aspcts of driving - at cinemas and on tv - would be useful.

Safer cars and abs has increased speed as well. 30mph areas now mean 35-40 to most people. Only a blanket urban limit of 20mph will help boost cycling to a wider public ( before they get any wider...) no one will respect it but at least they might start doing 30mph. Thinking

Silly me. You're probably right....

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posted by MercuryOne [1055 posts]
16th June 2012 - 14:54

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This shows how the reliance on speed cameras for enforcement has been an utter disaster. Had policing levels been maintained on the roads, we wouldn't have to consider toughening the penalties in this regard. That said, it's no bad thing.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2172 posts]
17th June 2012 - 22:05

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