HUNDREDS of on-the-spot fines have been handed out to motorists in Yorkshire for offences such as lane-hogging, tailgating and dangerous overtaking on the region’s roads since police were given new powers last year.
West Yorkshire Police has handed out more than 400 penalty fines for careless or inconsiderate driving since August, though Humberside Police only issued a handful in the same period, according to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act,
The new powers to issue fixed penalties for careless driving, along with a £100 fine and three points on the driver’s licence, were announced by the Government to make it easier for the police to tackle problem drivers.
The changes give the police greater flexibility in dealing with less serious careless driving offences, freeing them from resource-intensive court processes.
Officers who previously might have ignored low-level offences or let the driver off with a warning have been told to consider a fixed penalty and offer the driver a chance to go on educational training instead of having their licence endorsed.
Between August 16 and June 11, West Yorkshire Police issued 247 on-the-spot fines for driving without due care and attention, and 182 for driving without reasonable consideration.
In a similar period Humberside Police issued eight fixed penalties for careless driving, though 517 drivers were sent to attend courses, 48 will be brought to court and 232 face enforcement action that has not yet concluded.
North Yorkshire Police officers handed out 48 notices for offences such as dangerous overtaking and failing to give way at a junction, lane discipline and “careless manoeuvres” between August and June, while South Yorkshire Police issued at least 108.
Inspector Joanne Field of West Yorkshire Police’s roads policing unit, which covers roads including the M62 and M1 said: “We rely on and respect our officers to use their discretion appropriately, and deal with the circumstances before them at the time of the incident.
“There are a number of reasons why officers will issue fixed penalty notices at the roadside. These include a driver’s offending history or the severity of the offence.”
A spokeswoman for Humberside Police said: “The use of on the-spot-fines is just one tactic in the armoury of options available to traffic officers. Although we have issued a small number in Humberside, that does not tell the whole story.
“Several hundred drivers have been stopped for the offence in this time period and although an on-the-spot fine may not have been issued, police action was taken and in many cases is still ongoing.”
Careless driving is not a new offence but since last August it became a “fixed penalty offence”.
A fixed penalty is not applied in all cases and in more serious cases offenders will still be summonsed to appear in court.
A spokesman for the Automobile Association said the new powers were “primarily a rap on the wrist and to remind drivers that although they may think there are not many cops in cars on the roads, your chances of being caught are quite significant, and you face prosecution if you do something stupid and reckless.
“In this country there is the perception that you are unlikely to be caught.”