DfT to announce on-the-spot fines for range of careless driving offences

Fine for using handheld mobile will also rise from £60 to £100, but concerns raised over police resources to enforce FPNs

by Simon_MacMichael   June 5, 2013  

Car wheel at speed copyright Simon MacMichael.jpg

Drivers are set to receive on the spot fines for careless driving such as not giving way at junctions, or hogging the middle lane on motorways under new rules to be announced by the Department for Transport (DfT) this morning. However, concerns have been raised by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM)  over whether police have adequate resources to enforce such penalties, as well as whether introducing fixed penalty notices undermines the seriousness of the offences concerned.

Fines for using a handheld mobile phone while driving or not using a seatbelt will also be increased from £60 to £100 to bring them into line with the offences that are included in today’s announcement, which also include cutting into traffic queues, tailgaiting other vehicles, or using the wrong lane at a roundabout.

Road safety minister Stephen Hammond, quoted in The Daily Telegraph, 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."

One of the reasons for the introduction of fixed penalty notices for certain instances of careless driving is that currently, they are often not prosecuted due to the time and expense of taking cases to court.

Questions have been raised though over whether police have the resources to enforce fines, and some will no doubt point to the continued high levels of usage of mobile phones at the wheel as evidence that fines do not provide a deterrence, and that there is too little enforcement.

These points were raised by Neil Greig, director of policy at road safety charity IAM who said: "This is a major change in traffic law enforcement and the IAM is concerned that issuing fixed penalty tickets for careless driving downplays the seriousness of the offence.

“Careless covers a wide range of poor to reckless driving behaviour that often merits further investigation.

"This could free up traffic police time and allow them to maintain a higher profile. But without traffic cops out on the road to enforce this new approach it will have little impact on road safety."

Speaking for the transport charity Sustrans, its policy director, Jason Torrance welcomed the changes:

“Any measure that works to encourage a culture of respect on our roads is welcome, particularly where it allows motorists, pedestrians and cyclists to share the space safely.

“It is vital that the punishment fits the crime and, where serious offences are committed, the appropriate action is taken.

“I hope this initiative allows for a sensible approach to issuing fines for traffic offences that relieves the pressure on the courts while still maintaining integrity in our roads rules.”

The increase in fines for anti social behavior behind the wheel also got a thumbs up from the bit motoring organisations, the AA and RAC.

AA President Edmund King commented: “An increase in the standard motoring fixed penalty fine will help deter those who commit motoring offences including mobile phone use.

“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.”

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: "Anti-social behaviour is as big a problem on the roads as it is in wider society. Giving police more discretion to act, and freeing up resources to allow them to do so by cutting procedural delays in court, is good news.

"We are also pleased to see that the stick is accompanied by the chance of re-education for moderate offenders.

"Raising the fine level to GBP100 is justifiable to tackle the plague of handheld mobile phone use which slows drivers' reaction times even more than being at the drink-drive limit or taking cannabis."

Yesterday, national cyclist's organisation, the CTC launched its Road Justice campaign which challenges the police and justice system to treat the issue of road crime more seriously and it is urging cyclists to log incidents of dangerous driving on its website www.roadjustice.org.uk

17 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

"Raising the fine level to GBP100 is justifiable to tackle the plague of handheld mobile phone use which slows drivers' reaction times even more than being at the drink-drive limit or taking cannabis."

both of which risk custodial sentences instead of a FPN!

just sounds like an easy way to raise the coffers to me

Racer 074 for the 2014 Transcontinental Race; 2,000 miles from London to Istanbul.

http://themartincox.co.uk/2014/03/racer-074-transcontinental-race-2014/

posted by themartincox [315 posts]
5th June 2013 - 9:42

like this
Like (4)

How about adding "Stopping in the ASL" to that list as well. Motorbikes are the worst for it but it's getting ridiculous in London now.

By the way there's a typo in the secondary title (Fune for Fine) Smile

posted by VeloPeo [209 posts]
5th June 2013 - 9:46

like this
Like (4)

Anything that makes drivers think a bit more about the standard of their driving has to be a good thing I suppose. Be interesting to see how often it actually turns out to be enforced though.

posted by Chuck [351 posts]
5th June 2013 - 9:56

like this
Like (5)

I read elsewhere that stopping in the ASL might be taken out of the hands of the police and passed over to TFL in London. This would allow CCTV operators to enforce much as they do with bus lane parking and yellow hashed area stopping. A large percentage of motorbike riders don't actually realise it is illegal to stop in an ASL but the days of regular Clunk Click style road safety advice adverts are long since gone.

posted by Gashead [29 posts]
5th June 2013 - 10:12

like this
Like (7)

Apologies for being 'London-centric' but there was something on the news the other night about TfL deciding to enforce £60 fines for breaking ASL laws with more cameras etc. I didn't catch the whole report so can't elaborate but I remember thinking this should have been happening anyway shouldn't it? Not that many drivers I encounter in London give a f*ck about ASLs anyway.

TurboJoe

posted by TurboJoe [53 posts]
5th June 2013 - 10:12

like this
Like (4)

Is it just a coincidence that the car pictured is a BMW? Wink

posted by Darren C [69 posts]
5th June 2013 - 10:20

like this
Like (6)

Where are the police on the roads to be "policing" these policies? More political window dressing. Or have they now got smart speed cameras that can do all of these functions? Utter tosh.

bikeandy61's picture

posted by bikeandy61 [383 posts]
5th June 2013 - 10:35

like this
Like (5)

Absolutely pathetic, pointless posturing. To put this into context, a fixed penalty notice for dropping a piece of litter is £80.

"Careless drivers are a menace and their negligence puts innocent people's lives at risk." So...let me get this straight, Stephen Hammond thinks by upping the spot fine to a level that will cost the perpetrators £20 more to endanger lives than drop a crisp bag is in some way appropriate?

And targeting middle lane hoggers...really?? How about actually punishing the vast numbers of idiots who find it impossible to stick to speed limits, cars blasting down residential streets at 50+ mph etc.

posted by Andrewwd [19 posts]
5th June 2013 - 11:49

like this
Like (4)

I've read about drivers charged with careless driving after pretty horrendous hit & run incidents with cyclists... will they get automatic £100 fines and be done with it too? Thinking Surprise

Asolare

posted by Goldfever4 [165 posts]
5th June 2013 - 12:07

like this
Like (5)

The fine for mobile phone usage is nowhere near as high as it should be, but at least the middle lane hoggers will be fined now, which is good.

posted by Karbon Kev [663 posts]
5th June 2013 - 12:22

like this
Like (4)

Mobile phone use in particular should carry mandatory points (preferably 6) as well as a significant fine (£100 doesn't even cover 2 tanks of fule in most cars).

On my commute this morning the following were fairly typical:

3 occasions where vehicles flashed for others to pull out or turn across them even though I was approaching the junctions, 3 occasions of being unable to access ASL boxes due to motor vehicles in them, 2 vehicles pulling out in front of me close enough to need to brake, numerous drivers using handheld phones and one vehicle passing me with occupants smoking canabis. (actually the canabis wasn't typical - there are usually at least two or three each morning).

The last time I saw traffic police on my commute was ......
actually I can't even remember!

Long way to go I think!

Shay

posted by shay cycles [209 posts]
5th June 2013 - 12:35

like this
Like (4)

Good news about the ASL fines in London if true

By the way - was on the bus last night that was having to crawl along due to a cyclist barely turning the pedals over whilst on a mobile. Twunts are everywhere unfortunately....

posted by VeloPeo [209 posts]
5th June 2013 - 12:52

like this
Like (4)

VeloPeo wrote:

By the way - was on the bus last night that was having to crawl along due to a cyclist barely turning the pedals over whilst on a mobile. Twunts are everywhere unfortunately....

I like how people doing dumb stuff while riding a bike tends to slow them down though. I like that a lot.

Especially having been nearly wiped out several times by phone using motorists taking urban roads and roundabouts at 40mph.

--
"Tant que je respire, j'attaque!"

John_the_Monkey's picture

posted by John_the_Monkey [417 posts]
5th June 2013 - 12:57

like this
Like (5)

Odd this comes at a time when the number of active Police Officers is at an all time low

Angelfishsolo's picture

posted by Angelfishsolo [104 posts]
5th June 2013 - 15:46

like this
Like (4)

John_the_Monkey wrote:

I like how people doing dumb stuff while riding a bike tends to slow them down though. I like that a lot.

Especially having been nearly wiped out several times by phone using motorists taking urban roads and roundabouts at 40mph.

You see all sorts. Bloke a couple of years ago riding no-handed, eating what looked like a Chinese take-away from a foil tray. Decent handling skills - just made me think "t***" though....

On the flip side recently complained to TfL about a driver riding aggressively behind a slow moving cyclist. When I (politely) had a word with him as I was getting off he said "She should have been putting more effort in".

There's idiots everywhere....

posted by VeloPeo [209 posts]
5th June 2013 - 16:00

like this
Like (5)

Resources? I was on Mile-end road yesterday where apparently it takes a dozen police to stop a car to do vehicle tax etc checks, three quarters of them were standing around chatting. Police have plenty of resources, they're just no good at using them efficiently.

As for fines, the average londoner is earning over £40,000, £100 is hardly a deterrent, start sticking points on to people's licenses, that will make much more difference to most drivers.

posted by kie7077 [419 posts]
5th June 2013 - 17:06

like this
Like (5)

Andrewwd wrote:
Absolutely pathetic, pointless posturing. To put this into context, a fixed penalty notice for dropping a piece of litter is £80.

Yes, agree completely.

Penalty for driving in a bus lane: £200.

Says it all about the attitude of those supposedly in charge, doesn't it?

TiNuts's picture

posted by TiNuts [92 posts]
6th June 2013 - 7:56

like this
Like (6)