The Government has announced it will bring in on-the-spot fixed penalty notices to crack down on ‘careless driving’ offences such as tailgating and middle-lane hogging. We asked our panel of experts to debate their likely impact.
Do you think that the Government’s new careless driving on-the-spot fines are a good idea?
Tony Leigh, head of car fleet services, PwC: In general yes, but the real problem is still a lack of police patrols. You can drive for miles and never see a police car. Anything that can stop drivers committing an offence has got to be a good thing, but will they be enforced?
Darryl Ashton, fleet manager, Brighthouse: It’s a good idea and it may certainly help to stop the persistent issues we all see every day, especially in some areas where local communities seem to be oblivious to the laws or totally disregard them.
Charlie Shiels, executive director central operations, GeoPost: I do believe the spirit of the objective is a good idea; anything that helps focus all drivers and makes them more considerate and/or safer (as well as deterring criminal offences) should be considered good news.
Paul Tate, commodity manager, Siemens: The introduction of these on-the-spot fines is a good idea as it will be easier and less time consuming for the law enforcement agencies to tackle the bad practices that are happening on our roads every day.
Phil Clifford, fleet & technical manager, St Edmundsbury Borough Council: Clearly any careless driving needs to be addressed but I am not convinced that giving the police the ability to issue more on-the-spot fines will be an effective deterrent. Fines for using a handheld mobile phone or for not wearing seatbelts have not worked to date and I doubt the police have the capacity to deal with the high level of careless driving that we all see every day.
How can fleets minimise the potential impact of these new on-the-spot fines?
Tony Leigh It is always the individual’s responsibility to drive within the law, so all the fleet manager can really do is to advise drivers about the new penalties and make sure that they are aware of the consequences.
Darryl Ashton The information about the new on-the-spot fines needs to be clearly communicated to the fleet driver as it may impact on their eligibility to drive should they pick up some additional penalty points.
Charlie Shiels It is clear that both fleet drivers and the general public need to increase the standard of driving. But I would be more worried about the points added to drivers’ licences as much, if not more, than the actual fines.
Paul Tate Obviously, communication with all your drivers is key. They need to be advised of any new legislation changes together with the potential impact it may have on them.
Phil Clifford Fleets need to communicate with their drivers to warn of the perils of careless driving and to take initiatives to educate and, if necessary, train them to be better. Employers could consider drivers who receive such penalties are in breach of health and safety obligations.
Will these fines help improve the standard of driving on UK roads? If not, how could this be achieved?
Tony Leigh No, I don’t honestly think it will have any real impact. I believe that education is the only way to improve the standard of our driving in the UK.