On-the-spot fines come into force to target bad drivers

MOTORISTS in the region could be issued on-the-spot fines for tailgating and lane-hogging from today as part of a new Government crackdown on bad driving.

The new fines are part of changes giving roads policing teams across the country powers to issue penalty notices for £100 and add three points to drivers’ licences.

The most serious examples of bad driving will continue to go to court, where offenders may face higher penalties.

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As part of the changes, the level of fines for some existing offences, such as using a mobile phone while driving, will also rise.

The changes seem set to go down badly with motorists, with a recent poll of 3,000 drivers by Auto Trader showing that 60 per cent reckoned the new fines would make no impact on road safety.

And an AA/Populus survey revealed that 29 per cent admitted to staying in the middle lane of motorways, with the AA adding that the Government had not done enough to warn people of the new penalties.

The police will also be able to offer educational training as an alternative to endorsement. Drivers will still be able to appeal against any decision in court.

The changes give the police greater flexibility in dealing with less serious careless driving offences, freeing them from resource-intensive court processes.

Also from today, various fines, for which drivers do not have their licence endorsed, rise from £30 to £50. These include such offences as not having an easily-seen car tax disc and failing to give way at a junction.

Other fines, such as using a mobile phone at the wheel and some speeding offences, rise from £60 to £100. These offences lead to an endorsement on the licence.

The fine for failing to wear a seat belt also goes up from £60 to £100, while the driving-without-insurance fine rises from £200 to £300.

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.”

Chief Inspector Mark Bownass of West Yorkshire Police said there would be no change to how roads in the county were policed as a result. But he said: “The new fixed penalties provide officers with a toolkit which allows them to deal with the offence based upon their perception, right through from a fixed penalty ticket to a traffic offence report.”