New on-the-spot fines introduced

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Fixed penalties for careless or inconsiderate driving came into effect today with mobile phone use and middle lane hogging among a series of offences which will bring an increased fine of £100.

Other offences covered in what has been described as the biggest shake-up in road policing in 40 years include tailgating, failing to give way at a junction, overtaking and pushing into a queue of traffic, being in the wrong lane and pushing into a queue on a roundabout, inappropriate speed along with wheelspins, handbrake turns and other careless manoeuvres which will include wheelies for motorcycles.

The new rules have followed a consultation period and it’s hoped they can increase the chances of the police being able to get an offence to stick as it won’t have to go to court with all of the associated paperwork; a key reason many were never taken any further.

Existing fixed penalty levels for most motoring offences – including using a mobile phone at the wheel and not wearing a seatbelt – rise to £100, bringing them into line with penalties for similar non-motoring fixed penalties.

Road Safety Minister Stephen Hammond said: “Careless driving puts innocent people’s lives at risk – that is why we have made 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.

“We have also increased 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.

“The fixed penalty for careless driving is now £100 with three points on the driver’s licence. The most serious examples will continue to go through court, where offenders may face higher penalties. The police will also be able to offer educational training as an alternative to endorsement. Drivers will still be able to appeal any decision in court.”

One element not mentioned by the Government is the slashing of dedicated traffic police numbers across the UK which has decreased by as much as 42% in some areas of the country over the past decade. It means the chances of people being caught by a police officer are hugely reduced.

Andy Downes

By Andy Downes

Former MCN Senior Reporter