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New law targets foreign drivers

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Foreign drivers who break UK road rules face fines and the immobilisation of their vehicles under new proposals.

Road safety minister Jim Fitzpatrick said the new system would ensure that drivers from outside the UK would no longer be able to escape punishment for offences on British roads.

Under the plans, the police and the Vehicle Operator and Services Agency (VOSA) would, from next year, have powers to collect on-the-spot penalties from anyone without a satisfactory UK address.

They would also be able to issue penalty points.

VOSA examiners would have the power to issue fixed penalty notices to hauliers for offences such as breaking driver hours, weight or safety regulations.

As well as the penalties, the measures will allow the police and VOSA examiners to immobilise any vehicle prohibited from continuing its journey as a result of the driver breaking rules.

Mr Fitzpatrick said: “These tough new measures mean non-UK drivers who break our laws will find themselves in a similar position to UK drivers who are either issued with a fixed penalty notice or prosecuted in court.

“From next year, all drivers without a satisfactory UK address who commit offences will have to pay a financial penalty deposit equal to the amount of the fixed penalty, or up to £300 as a surety in respect of a potential fine.”

The move follows research which reveals that the number of crashes involving foreign drivers is rising dramatically, with drivers from Poland accounting for nearly 17% of all crashes on UK roads.

The issue has also caused problems for fleet managers, not only in terms of licence checking if recruiting but also in making claims on foreign insurance.

A consultation on the proposals was launched last week and can be found at www.dft.gov.uk/consultations until October 17.

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