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New regime partly aimed at ensuring drivers breaking law don't go unpunished - but IAM says education, not fines, is key to road safety...

From today, motorists face a £100 fine and having 3 points put on their licence for a range of road safety related offences, including some related to driver distraction or emerging from a side road into the path of another vehicle. But road safety charity IAM says it’s driver education, not fines, that could have a bigger influence on road safety for all users.

In June, the government published its response to a consultation on the proposed amendments to the law first mooted a year earlier, and confirmed it was seeking to make some careless driving-related offences subject to £100 fixed penalty notices, or offer the driver in question remedial training.

One of the reasons behind the change in approach is that all too often, such offences are not prosecuted due to the cost, both financial and in terms of police time, in taken them all the way to court.

The new rules come into effect today. One that is receiving media attention is that motorists will face fines for staying in the middle lane on motorways, but several others touch upon issues of relevance to the safety of vulnerable road users such as cyclists or pedestrians.

Besides the introduction of fixed penalty notices for careless driving, there has also been an increase in the level of fines for some offences already subject to them.

Using a handheld mobile phone, whether for voice calls or to send texts, emails, or check apps or websites – all found by research to be more of a threat to road safety than driving over the permitted alcohol limit, particularly given the rise of smartphone ownership – will now be punishable by a fine of £100, up from £60; as was previously the case, driving licences will be endorsed with 3 points.

Potentially, the prospect of those penalty points could give teeth to the law, since it would be likely to result in higher insurance premiums for the motorist concerned if caught and hit them harder in the pocket, but only if the rules are properly enforced, something that was queried by IAM at the time the chang

In a press release today, IAM summarises some of the aspects of careless driving that will now be subject to a fine as including:

overtaking on the inside
driving inappropriately close to another vehicle
inadvertently driving through a red light
emerging from a side road into the path of another vehicle
tuning a car radio; when the driver was avoidably distracted by this action
selecting and lighting a cigarette or similar when the driver was avoidably distracted by that use.

Its chief executive, Simon Best, cautioned however that the approach to enforcement needed to be carefully targeted if the changes were to have maximum impact.

“If the police target the worst and most persistent offenders this could be good news for road safety,” he explained.

“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.”

Announcing the changes to the law in June, road safety minister 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."

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

41 comments

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msw [113 posts] 2 years ago
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“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.”

Would that be the same Institute of Advanced Motoring that sells driver retraining courses?

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A V Lowe [573 posts] 2 years ago
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Now I would be impressed if more FPN's were issued to drivers for s.72 Highways Act 1835 offences - across UK 54% of drivers admit they break the law but to date we only see cyclists being fined for same offence. Any figures on cyclists % for s.72 offence?

Clearly with less than 1 fatality per year caused by s.72 cyclist, and over 40 per year hit by a motor vehicle being driven on a footway, the offence of driving a motor vehicle on a footway is one to tackle.

Photographic evidence can be used to prosecute the keeper of the vehicle if the vehicle is photographed speeding, ignoring a stop signal, or a number of other traffic offences but not for being driven on a footway! This needs to change.

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newtonuk [54 posts] 2 years ago
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"introduction of foxed penalyt notices"... Sounds interesting!

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Mattrb78 [23 posts] 2 years ago
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Lol this is yet something else that will never be enforced. Good idea but just like driving whilst using a phone, the police will turn a blind eye to it all and nothing will change!

On the other hand though, if this was enforced and lots of drivers started getting fines and points for doing things that are dangerous and inconsiderate then we really would see a change.

If training/education is the key I don't know a single driver who has ever done any sort of advanced driving course once they have passed there test. The only further training I have ever heard of anyone taking is a speed awareness course after being caught speeding, even then that was just an attendance course that made no difference!

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Dr_Lex [275 posts] 2 years ago
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With the increasing numbers of dash-cams, as well as head/bar cams, is there provision for FPNs to be issued on photographic evidence supplied by other road-users?
Or can someone put up a link to the new legislation, please?

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Animal [41 posts] 2 years ago
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It's mostly good. But "staying in the middle lane"????

W. T. F??????

I mean, I will go back to the left side IF POSSIBLE. But I'll do 75 at most on motorways because I won't grossly flout the law. And there will be several miles of slow lorries. I will need to stay there.

And even if there is a 400 yard gap into which I could DIVE for a few seconds, then I'd be trapped by the CONSTANT stream of lunatics behind me.

This expecting you to either sod off into the 50mph lane, or drive at FULL THROTTLE pisses me right off! They can all sod off!

This one is particularly ill thought out.

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mrmo [2064 posts] 2 years ago
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change the law as much as you like, make any calls for advanced training, But it is all pointless unless you can enforce it! No police, no point in the law.

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northstar [1108 posts] 2 years ago
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This is well and good but it seems police numbers are being deliberately cut and apparently the "country" is in debt so how they are going to fund all this.

A monster has been created and they have no clue how to deal with it other than put up cameras for everything.

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therealsmallboy [166 posts] 2 years ago
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Animal, it's that kind of stupidity that causes pile-ups on the motorway. You are a middle lane hogger and most of the people on the motorway hate you!

All traffic should be on the inside lane unless overtaking, or approaching a junction, in which case move out to whichever of the other two lanes is best.

Also, the word 'limit' means maximum. saying 'I'd do 75mph at most' still means that you're breaking the law. Not only that, but you're advertising it on a public forum. Just because there are people behind 'making' you drive faster doesn't mean it's ok.

Utter stupidity, there should be mandatory motorway training/ testing as part of the driving test.

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Mart [110 posts] 2 years ago
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I thought the idea of a driving licence was to prove you were responsible enough to drive on the roads etc. Advanced courses should not be necessary,if this not the case the original test should therefore be improved. Also the 12 points and your out, should not be open to some people still being able to drive with 15 points, or the ridiculous 25 points I once heard about.

True story.
I got told off by the police for under taking a car, it was midnight and only me and this other car on the road, after following him on the dual carriageway for over a mile (@50mph ) and him not moving over I went for the undertake (cautiously). The police were watching from a bridge.  20 got a telling off and their advice at the time was that I should have stayed behind him for as long as it took, even if it was 100 miles.
We were both technically wrong, only me pulled tho.

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Animal [41 posts] 2 years ago
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FFS!

I AM OVERTAKING!

500 effing lorries!

And SORRY if I won't go 100mph.

If YOU want to do that then sod off.

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Animal [41 posts] 2 years ago
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You CANT have it both ways.

Wanking on about hogging, then saying you want to overtake, then saying 75 is illegal.

fuck off.

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kie7077 [858 posts] 2 years ago
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We have plenty enough Police, the problem is all the bureaucracy/paperwork that needs to be dealt with. Just harping on that we need more police will cost us more money unnecessarily.

50% of stops that could involve points being taken are let off, stop doing that, it encourages racism, sexism, and every other prejudice going. Why should someone get off of points because they basically are charismatic or have the gift of the gab?

And end the hardship clause already, no-one NEEDS a car.

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Kim [221 posts] 2 years ago
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Here again we see the motoring lobby making excuses for bad driving, if you hold a driving licence you have responsibilities. It is time that groups like IAM started to treat this seriously, they have blood on their hands. We have these laws for a reason, to protect the vulnerable and save lives, therefore these laws should be enforced.

Unless the motoring lobby can show the law is unfair or unreasonable, they should expect to act within them. If they feel that these laws are unfair or unreasonable, they should layout a clearly reasoned case for why the the law should be changed, not make spurious claims that it is a "tax" or "to raise revenue". No they are to save lives!

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notfastenough [3665 posts] 2 years ago
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Mattrb78 wrote:

Lol this is yet something else that will never be enforced. Good idea but just like driving whilst using a phone, the police will turn a blind eye to it all and nothing will change!

On the other hand though, if this was enforced and lots of drivers started getting fines and points for doing things that are dangerous and inconsiderate then we really would see a change.

If training/education is the key I don't know a single driver who has ever done any sort of advanced driving course once they have passed there test. The only further training I have ever heard of anyone taking is a speed awareness course after being caught speeding, even then that was just an attendance course that made no difference!

When I had a company car years ago, one of the insurance requirements was a defensive driving course. It was only half a day, but it was spent actually driving with an instructor. I still use the skills now (16 years later), would be good if more people took this.

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fancynancy [78 posts] 2 years ago
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Loads of police out today on my 12mile commute to London. They were actually slowing down coming in the opposite direction to see if I would stop at reds. Good! It should work both ways.

& as for middle lane hogs... don't get me started  3

Signing off, cylist & BMW driver (worst combo, right  4 heehee)

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andyp [1444 posts] 2 years ago
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all anyone (particularly Animal) needs to know:

www.howmotorwayswork.co.uk

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Colin Peyresourde [1677 posts] 2 years ago
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fancynancy wrote:

Loads of police out today on my 12mile commute to London. They were actually slowing down coming in the opposite direction to see if I would stop at reds. Good! It should work both ways.

& as for middle lane hogs... don't get me started  3

Signing off, cylist & BMW driver (worst combo, right  4 heehee)

I would rate Audi drivers the worse. If there is one vehicle that persistantly buzzes me it's an Audi, and usually being driven too fast.

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therealsmallboy [166 posts] 2 years ago
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"You CANT have it both ways.

Wanking on about hogging, then saying you want to overtake, then saying 75 is illegal.

fuck off."

I hope you're not that angry when at the wheel, but I should think that you probably are. Read the link above and try to be more calm. All that anger will get you killed one day.

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Colin Peyresourde [1677 posts] 2 years ago
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Animal wrote:

It's mostly good. But "staying in the middle lane"????

W. T. F??????

I mean, I will go back to the left side IF POSSIBLE. But I'll do 75 at most on motorways because I won't grossly flout the law. And there will be several miles of slow lorries. I will need to stay there.

And even if there is a 400 yard gap into which I could DIVE for a few seconds, then I'd be trapped by the CONSTANT stream of lunatics behind me.

This expecting you to either sod off into the 50mph lane, or drive at FULL THROTTLE pisses me right off! They can all sod off!

This one is particularly ill thought out.

I think you are being misquoted by others - I don't suppose you NEVER use the slow lane, and NEVER use the fast lane.

The problem with these rules is that there is no specific guidance for their operation. You may overtake slower moving traffic (sub-70mph) in the slow lane and there be a space between it and the next vehicle, with no one using the fast lane, but fast vehicles approaching behind. Who determines if you are hogging the middle lane if you remain in it to overtake the next vehicle you are gaining on?

I know from experience that there are people who expect you to clear the road for them driving at 80+mph, but this is clearly not driving legally.

As other people have said, this is clearly unenforceable, and seemingly very subjective. What will no doubt happen is that many 'law-abidding' citizens will be caught and pay up these FPNs, until someone with enough money and righteous indignation challenges it and wins in a court of law.....though actually in principle I do agree to the police taking issue with inconsiderate driving.

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gb901 [149 posts] 2 years ago
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fixed penalty notices - just another way of milking money out of the cash cow that is the motorist!

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shay cycles [319 posts] 2 years ago
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Don't motorways seem to confuse lots of drivers?

All this talk of slow lanes, middle lanes and fast lanes ... Motorways can have 2, 3 or 4 lanes on each carriageway and may or may not have a hard-shoulder.

And don't confused drivers get angry and defensive - just like children in schools who will strike out and behave badly because they don't understand and nobody realises.

Maybe the real problem here is that you aren't taught how to drive on motorways as part of the process of learning to drive. I've always beleived that after the standard test there should be a motorway test and only after that could anyone receive a full licence.

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andyp [1444 posts] 2 years ago
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'fixed penalty notices - just another way of milking money out of the cash cow that is the motorist!'

is that lifted verbatim from the Daily Mail? Do fixed penalty notices also give you cancer?

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cisgil23 [55 posts] 2 years ago
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gb901 wrote:

fixed penalty notices - just another way of milking money out of the cash cow that is the motorist!

You don't get a FPN if you're not breaking the law.
Just respect the rules and other people.

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Colin Peyresourde [1677 posts] 2 years ago
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andyp wrote:

all anyone (particularly Animal) needs to know:

www.howmotorwayswork.co.uk

What this website doesn't say is anything about speed limits. It suggests that people travelling at 70mph in the middle lane who have traffic behind them should pull in (in this case let us take it for red that the left-hand lane is not full, but is in constant use). But this would only be for people travelling 70+mph which is not part of the highway code.

Surely the people who should alter their behaviour (i.e. be fined) are the speeders. I'm not really sure about who the middle lane w@nkers are - except people identified by people travelling over 70+mph who force them to drive in the fast lane....

It sort of strikes me as the sort of behaviour that many cyclists complain about i.e. people behaving as if they own the roads because they are the fastest on the roads.

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mrchrispy [443 posts] 2 years ago
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good news but they need to enforce it ffs.
about as much use as creating a law making it illegal to fart in the bath.

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badback [302 posts] 2 years ago
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Interesting that when youvdrive in France lane discipline is always better on 2 lane autoroutes. When it becomes 3 lane it all seems to go to pot.

I still reckon getting everybody to re-take their driving theory test and have an eye test every few years would sharpen peoples road sense up.

When I passed my test 30 years ago there were no such things as ASLs. When I took my bike test a few years later I was amazed at how much of the highway code had changed.

(I also took my advanced test when I'd taken my normal test. Cost me nowt as the instructers were volunteers).

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a_to_the_j [118 posts] 2 years ago
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is this just some lipservice with the rash of cycle deaths recently, as it will hardly ever be enforced, apart from of course a Copper needing to "up his quota" standing at a junction seeing a rich guy in a Porsche messing with his phone and hey presto he can now get him there an then.

in all my years of riding ive never once seen a policecar/officer be at the same point at the same time as me on a bike when a car passed me by with less than 1inch to spare...so what the hell is the point....get more police on unmarked bikes and the existing laws will suffice....

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TeamCC [146 posts] 2 years ago
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I'm surprised this law wasn't already a law. Also agree with other points here, if someone needs retraining on driving, perhaps they were passed too easily.

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Colin Peyresourde [1677 posts] 2 years ago
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a_to_the_j wrote:

is this just some lipservice with the rash of cycle deaths recently, as it will hardly ever be enforced, apart from of course a Copper needing to "up his quota" standing at a junction seeing a rich guy in a Porsche messing with his phone and hey presto he can now get him there an then.

in all my years of riding ive never once seen a policecar/officer be at the same point at the same time as me on a bike when a car passed me by with less than 1inch to spare...so what the hell is the point....get more police on unmarked bikes and the existing laws will suffice....

What rash of cycle deaths? (did you know that cycle deaths in London are actually down in the last year to just 6?) I think that there are popular misconceptions about cycling deaths, especially on this website, because they have a habit of reporting all of them. More pedestrians and motorcyclist were killed last year (in London). This is the problem with media, is that it is difficult to filter out what it is telling you, and what the truth is.

As far as I can see this is just the government's road transport policy. In all likelihood, due to increased road use, and an influx in foreign drivers (immigration) this is an attempt to create culture of transportation. It's not about cycling at all, except that if it gets motorists behaving better it benefits us.

They would jump on any driver messing about with their phones. You seem to be just venting, and not really paying attention to specifics here.

You are less likely to see anyone misbehave with a policeman around as they will likely get pulled up and fined/cautioned/arrested. It is a reason to have more men on the beat, but that's actually expensive.

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